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Goin’ like 60

September 23, 2008
West Seattle Bridge

West Seattle Bridge

On the GTS, heading east on the Spokane Street Viaduct (the one that will be replaced) I see a sign that says “Speed Limit 35.” It’s got little day-glo orange diamonds attached to the top, which means it was changed somewhat recently. The speed limit was probably lowered.

Not that it matters. I glance at the speedometer—60 mph. I’m being passed as if I was standing still.

I’ve been taking both the Viaducts and Aurora Avenue a lot lately. Just as I needed to get familiar with shifting gears on the PX, I need to get comfy with freeway speed on the GTS. That’s what I got it for, I remind myself as traffic zooms by.

It makes no sense, but I find the east/northbound trip easier. You go downhill on Fauntleroy, it curves around and heads uphill to the high-level West Seattle Bridge. Then you’re downhill again, leveling off in the 35-mph zone. From there, you can make a 360 loop onto SR 99, or keep going straight to Columbian Way, which gets you to Beacon Hill.

The northbound lanes of the Alaskan Way Viaduct are on top, giving you a marvelous view of Elliott Bay and a closeup look at the downtown skyline. An enjoyable experience. Unless visions of getting crushed by a large truck or knocked around, pinball-style, by a phone-yapping SUV driver intrude.

I make myself go through the Battery Street Tunnel, even if taking Western Avenue would be easier. Again, it’s easier going northbound; the grooved pavement (whose dumb idea was that???) seems less nibble-prone.

Coming the other way, I find being in the center lane the most comfortable way to cross the Aurora Bridge. There’s an entrance ramp at the north end of the bridge that continues as a separate lane, but some people in these parts seem not to grasp that concept, immediately moving over a lane to their left even though it isn’t necessary. If you’re going to the north part of Queen Anne Hill, you’ll need to take the first right after the bridge, a move that takes people by surprise in spite of the signage. And, you need to be conscious of people coming the other way, making the right turn onto Aurora, most easily done by waiting for someone turning right to exit.

South of Green Lake, Aurora isn’t much different than the lesser Viaduct. The posted speed limit is 40; I see 55 on my speedometer, and I’m the slowest thing on the road. Luckily, you can hop off at Dexter, Broad Street or Denny if things get too intense.

Once off the southbound AWV, you have to watch out for a big crack in the concrete pavement, roughly at a point where you can see a big yellow containter-carrying thing on your left. It’s in the middle of the lane, so go around on either side. I’ve sent e-mails to SDOT about this, but the Pothole Rangers have yet to fix this rather large potential hazard. I hit it dead-on riding the PX one time, and still think it was nothing less than The Hand of God that prevented a crash worthy of Olympic-level gymnastic competition.

Past the Crack, you can get back to West Seattle one of two ways: take the high-level bridge, or take the Harbor Island exit. Therein lies the bugaboo. For some reason, I wimp out and go for Harbor Island. One time, the sun was in a retina-melting position that made me think, if I’m having trouble seeing other vehicles, they surely might not see me. But the other times, I’ve had no excuse. Favicon

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