This weekend we pointed out the the dog that didn't bark in the night-time - that is, the massive traffic mess predicted for the site of the large-scale road work on I-5 in Seattle. Traffic hasn't, in relative terms, been bad. The shocker is in the quotes from people who say it's better than normal, even now that the work week has resumed.
Part of this has to be a decision by people to avoid what had been widely billed as a rolling catastrophe. But cut a layer beneath that, and you find some implications worth pondering.
Consider this notion from the Stranger's Slog this morning:
Collective panic alone can’t explain the startling number that was reported by newspapers this morning: Of 120,000 cars that normally use northbound I-5 daily, about half simply disappeared. That is, their drivers took alternate routes, rode transit, worked from home, or didn’t take unnecessary trips. Which is, by the way, exactly what happened in San Francisco—and exactly what we’ve been saying will happen here if the viaduct closes down. You can’t argue that closing the viaduct would lead to disaster and then ignore the fact that eliminating half the lanes on a major freeway through Seattle actually made traffic better. And that’s without any additional transit service from Metro, the main transit provider in the region. Imagine how much smoother the commute on I-5 could have been with expanded transit to take another 20,000 or 30,000 cars off the road.