Why Not A Seattle “Veloduct?”

Who says there are no longer any visionary architects left? In response to Seattle’s need to replace their aging Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle architect, John Kennedy, came up with the idea of a Veloduct-an elevated bicycle freeway that will help Seattle lower its gas emissions and protect the environment.

“This is one of the big moves we can make to devote to climate change-the time of the An Inconvenient Truth is looming,” says Kennedy.

Built in 1953, the Alaskan Viaduct, an elevated section of Washington State Route 99 runs along Elliott Bay in downtown Seattle. Since the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, the Viaduct has suffered regular settlement damage and Washington State Department of Engineers estimate that the entire Viaduct would need to be shut down permanently in the event of another earthquake.

Like other Seattlites, Kennedy was frustrated with the two options presented to voters in March of this year-to either replace the elevated highway or build a tunnel. Both options failed at the polls with 55% voting against replacing the highway and 70% voting against the tunnel.

Kennedy’s proposed Veloduct runs from downtown Seattle and heads north across the Aurora Bridge until it reaches Green Lake. Kennedy argues that construction of the Veloduct would be significantly cheaper than the other options currently being presented and would promote a more active, healthier lifestyle among Seattlites.

He anticipates that if the Veloduct is built, at least 10,000 people will ride it. “The veloduct is above traffic and it protects riders from the wind and rain and it will be fun to ride, as riders are 90 feet above the water suspended from the Aurora Bridge,” says Kennedy.

Kennedy’s proposal includes economic incentives for riders as well. The city would encourage use by paying riders $1 each time they ride it while drivers on an alternate road would pay $1.

The Veloduct design incorporates elements of green design through wind and rain screens that consist of vacuum solar tube panels that generate hot water. The water produced by the panels would provide nearby neighborhoods with heat and energy. Adjacent businesses could also feed their waste heat into this system and collected rainwater would be fed into shared rain gardens.

Although Kennedy still needs to pitch the idea of the Veloduct to the City of Seattle, which has five years to make a decision, he is hopeful it will be well-received in light of issues such as global warming and scarcity of resources. “Let’s enter our ‘period of consequence’ with the full force of creativity and imagination,” says Kennedy.

For more information please visit: http://www.kennedyarchitects.com.

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