I’m sitting here in front of the laptop (“Old Trusty”) wondering what bad things I will say about the latest news when I realize I might as well face the facts: I personalize everything. It’s my greatest flaw, worse than my grumpiness, frivolity, distractibility or my running off at the mouth.
I know when I get going about the mayor’s new budget proposal, I’m going to end up talking about how it’s bad for me. So I might as well dive right in at the outset.
I don’t drive. I haven’t driven since 1987, when I crashed the last taxi cab I drove.
The Department of Licensing told me I had to complete a safe-driving course unless I could present a plan to not have any more accidents. So I handed the instructor my driver’s license and said, “How’s this for a plan? You guys keep this and just give me an ID, and I never drive again.” I saved myself nine hours of boring lessons about physics I already knew. It’s all about momentum. Got it. Never wanted it.
Not driving is fine, but it means I need other ways to get around. I’ve said it before: I want my connected trolley line.
The city isn’t going to give it to me, though, because “it costs too much” and because “we’re so poor” because of something having to do with “not enough tax money.” But I know what they really mean: They’d sooner coddle billionaires than get me my connected trolley line.
The city’s not too poor to spend $94 million to pay five crews of contractors to chew up the Alaskan Way Viaduct and stuff the Battery Street Tunnel with dirt.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad cars won’t use the viaduct anymore. That’s great.
Because if there were an earthquake while cars were using the viaduct and the thing collapsed and killed a lot of motorists and passengers and such, I’d personalize that and feel awful.
It could still happen, though, because the viaduct isn’t scheduled to be closed until February.
Think about that. The Nisqually Earthquake happened the morning of Ash Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001. Soon after, the city learned that the viaduct could collapse during the next earthquake.
That quake could happen any time. So, what does the city do? It leaves the thing up and lets cars use it for almost 17 years — because traffic jams.
So, to avoid those traffic jams, the tunnel had to be built for a couple billion dollars and a couple (ok, more than a couple) more years.
Now it’s finally almost finished, which will mean cars can be rerouted through the tunnel and the viaduct can be closed and that’s all that’s needed to prevent most of the harm that would come from a collapsed viaduct.
What to do with that viaduct once the cars are in the tunnel? The city is going to demolish it — and apparently they’re going to do it with $94 million of the money that was going to build MY connecting trolley line that I NEED, because I don’t drive. So what do I care if there’s a tunnel?
And, of course, they’ll tell me it’s a win-win, because the demolition will create jobs.
And those jobs will make lots of money for the contractors, and since the contracting company isn’t based in Seattle, we will see very little — maybe none — of the tax earnings from those jobs, but that’s all good, because jobs are just abstractly good.
And another thing: I work at Real Change and our offices sit a half block from the viaduct that is going to be chewed up and dug up and hauled away to SODO, and I am personalizing the news about that, too.
While I’m at it and we’re talking about big structures and how they impact me: The Space Needle is one of my pet peeves. The whole Space Needle. There was a waste of money to go nowhere. Taking an elevator to get high? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of.
I’ve wanted to say that for a long time.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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