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Seattle Roads Are Not For The Weak At Heart

There was a great story in the news today. Apparently, someone crashed into a guardrail at 4am. So what, you ask? Well, this is Seattle, so there is always a chance that an otherwise normal crash will be spectacular. This particular guardrail was attached to the Alaska Way Viaduct - the aging, sinking, rickety freeway that carries Highway 99 through downtown and along the waterfront. Modern guardrails are boring. Jersey Barriers just kind of bump you back onto the road. Not so on the Viaduct. This fellow smacked into the guardrail and part of his engine was ejected onto the street below. How cool is that, in a "Holly Crap!" kind of way? Suppose you were walking under the viaduct when something like that happened? "Did you hear that Joe died? Killed by a flying engine." Beautiful. Where else could that happen?

The viaduct is one of the main road links in the region that is in desperate need of repair. It is not a question of if it will fall down. It is a question of when. The Highway 520 floating bridge is another example - a mile long, cement, floating bridge that crosses 200 foot deep, 55 degree water. With the 520 bridge it is a question of which will happen first - will is crumble or will it sink. In the past we have also sunk the I-90 floating bridge and a floating bridge out on the peninsula. Of course, we have all seen the film of "Galloping Girdy" - the Tacoma Narrows bridge - falling down.

Here in Seattle, we don't even need a natural disaster or ancient engineering to make an ordinary crash spectacular. We have blackberries. On the side of nearly every road that is even a little bit rural are feet deep bunches of blackberries. In a recent case, a woman drove off the road and was not found for 8 days. She was right next to a major road near her house the whole time. Her car was just swallowed by blackberries. The mountain passes are a whole other story. Avalanches, crashes, etc.

I think that Seattle drivers secretly love to have their commute spiked with a little danger. Where else can you drown, get swallowed up, or killed by flying car parts while just driving to work?


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