01 July, 2009

Neverending roadwork

I am going to jump to "now" for a moment to rant to you about what I perceive to be an absolute travesty. In all of the years I have lived in King County, there has not been one single moment when there is not at least one major highway undergoing significant revision or closure. I lived in Boston for many years, and projects would be started, and projects would be completed. Even "The Big Dig" had a beginning and an end, and that was a mammoth project that involved completely demolishing one roadway, and building another one, without ever having the path from point A to point B closed down.

King County has been trying to do things like repave, or occasionally modify an exit ramp, or widen an existing highway by a lane, on each of its 4 major highways (405, 520, 90, and 5) constantly for the last 10 years. Major onramps have been completely hobbled due to barrels that narrow lanes, and projects that appear to be languishing in eternal stagnation. And the "Murphy's Law" of King County roadwork is that they will close exactly the number of lanes required to make things impassable, at all times of day. If it is 2am, and there is light traffic flow, let's close ALL the lanes, to make sure the commute remains unbearable.

This area is one big disaster, all the result of poor planning. The traffic problem itself was caused by poor design of the highway patterns, with ramps spaced too closely, and with "Exit Only" lanes on the left side of interstate highways. And they are needing to replace support structure for many of the elevated highways and bridges in this area, because of poor original design. And, in true King County fashion, there is so little citizen interest in demanding better infrastructure, that nobody seems to notice that these projects are lasting forever.

If you want to have a new sports stadium, that will get done on a schedule. But if you want a public transit system, or roads that are not constantly in a state of "Cone-age" or "Rough Pavement", you'll have to wait until 2035 or so, when the entire current state government is deceased.

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