Alaskan Way Viaduct

Even before Seattle built the Alaskan Way Viaduct, civic leaders debated whether to build a tunnel or an elevated highway to move cars along the north/south highway 99 interstate route. They ultimately decided on what we know today as The Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Now, fifty years later, with the viaduct damaged by time and earthquakes, Seattle faces a new decision, as well as, struggling with the realities of today’s transportation problems, namely; what to build, and how to pay for it.

In the spring of 2007, frustrated by a political stalemate, Seattle voters were asked what they thought the solution should be; a tunnel, or a modern elevated replacement. When the votes were tallied, citizens soundly rejected both options sending politicians and planners back to the drawing board.

Because the Alaskan Way Viaduct runs through the heart of Seattle's downtown waterfront, many factors collide as the debate continues, now largely behind closed doors. This documentary, shown currently as a “work-in-progress”, examines the project form an outside looking in point of view, with interviews and commentary from West Seattle residents, local stakeholders, and from former mayor of Milwaukee now Founder and CEO of The Congress for the New Urbanism, John Norquist.

This debut documentary is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray hi-def. To get your copy, email david@tallthought.com.

For more information on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall replacement project, visit the WSDOT website where you can find a ton of documentation. 

Directors Comments

Although this piece is complete and airing on The Seattle Channel, I'm calling it a work-in-progress edit for two reasons. One, the story continues; the viaduct is still serving our city and it's replacement years away, and second; at 35 plus minutes in length, the edit I've put together is more of a personal point of view from me, (a native of West Seattle who loves the viaduct, but thinks it's unsafe).

If you're a Seattleite who wants a visual record of the viaduct today, I encourage you to buy a copy. Take a look at the sample above (push play) that features photography of the viaduct from the bridge deck and a song I composed and recorded.