For three of the last five school years, I have driven into Seattle on the Alaskan Way viaduct nearly every Monday to care for one or the other grandchild, and back across the next day. Trust me when I say it’s been the highlight of the drive, otherwise traveled on Interstate 5.
This week was the last time. The high roadway flanked on one side by Puget Sound with the sparkling Olympics on the horizon (on clear days) and ferries, cruise liners, and barges and the Emerald City on the other side closes permanently this weekend. When it’s torn down, the penthouse dwellers will have their view unsullied by the eyesore of the roadway far below them; and the lowly commuter will travel underground in a two-mile long yellow tunnel.
In the three weeks while they connect the north end of the tunnel with Highway 99, the 90,000 cars that travel the viaduct every day will be on already overcrowded I-5. Next week I’m not going. Then I will figure out some alternate timing for the duration. And will they really get it done in three weeks? Remember Bertha, the tunnel driller that got stuck?
I won’t miss the elderly short tunnel at the end of the viaduct. Remember when it collapsed on Grey’s Anatomy a few seasons back? Or the real life time not too long ago when the automatic sprinklers came on and drivers couldn’t see a thing? Then there was just last month when I drove it and the “tunnel closed, do not enter” lights came on when it was too late to abort and I had to sit in the full tunnel until whatever closed it was cleared trying not to hyperventilate.
I will brave the tunnel (I am not fond of any long tunnel, think Princess Diana) until it becomes a toll road in June or so. When my weekly gig is over forever when school’s out (another sadness), I will probably just do the crappy interstate drive through the city on the occasional visit to the Littles to avoid the toll. Or maybe I’ll just get the darn Good to Go pass.
A cloud and I commiserated together as I drove the last few miles to the viaduct on Monday, after the relief of exiting I-5.
On Tuesday evening, I approached the lower deck of the viaduct for the last time, heading back home. Goodbye old friend.