God Doesn’t Want Me to Move

This coming weekend, I'm moving into Seattle from the Eastside. For the last week or so, it's been becoming increasingly clear to me that some higher power is warning me against the move in no uncertain terms. Let us review.

First, it turns out that this coming weekend is Seafair, which means a boatload of traffic, so to speak, especially downtown. It also means the Blue Angels, whose aerobatic antics over Lake Washington will require the closure of the I-90 bridge for an hour and a half on Saturday. Given how hellish this is going to make driving over with the moving van, I'm perfectly willing to cross during the airshow. The prospect of being an up-close-and-personal witness to some sort of spectacular multiple-plane flameout and being engulfed in the ensuing bridge-busting seismic fireball starts to looke almost palatable, when compared with the prospect of sitting in the induced traffic. But noooo, those feds with their silly safety regulations have decreed that I-90 be clsoed for the duration.

Well, there's always 520. Or is there? Saturday is also the first Seahawks preseason game. Since they're currently in a between-stadia state (which is another rant not to get me started on), they're playing their home games at Husky Stadium. Which basically means that after early afternoon, 520 is going to be transformed from an expressway into an extension of the stadium parking lot.

But wait, there's more! I made my UHaul reservation about a week ago. The woman who took my reservation had some trouble operating the computer, but she was quite apologetic about it and we ultimately managed to work through all my questions and set me up with a truck. The idea was that I'd pick up from the Bellevue location by 10 AM Saturday and return it to any of the Seattle locations by 10 PM. In-town move, nice and inexpensive, no problems?

Problems. Yesterday, I got a call from someone at the UHaul place. The rates she had quoted me were all wrong, they weren't actually open on Saturday, and the person who took my order didn't actually work there. I didn't push too closely on that last one, but it did kind of give me some doubts about the railroad-running abilities of Bellevue UHaul. Well, that too-good-to-be-true in-town rate was too good to be true in that by dropping the van off someplace other than where I picked it up, I kicked over into the one-way category. No problem, says I, I'll just get a van from in Seattle, and dammit, I'll drive TWICE across Lake Washington, through the deadliest traffic in ages. Well, except that that too-good-to-be-trye in-town rate was also too good to be true in that it applied for two hours, not the twelve I'd thought. Multipled out, it wasn't such a good deal any more. So it was back to the one-way category, I'll take that twenty-four hour rental, sigh. Except that Bellevue UHaul -- its answering machine message to the contrary -- is not open on Saturdays in August, so I'd need to pick up the van by 5 PM on Friday. Which would mean having it back by 5 PM on Saturday, a goal which aforementioned traffic events would render well-nigh near unattainable. I managed to talk him into giving me an extension until 11 -- after the surprises his Mickey Mouse operation had pulled on me, it was really the least he could do, I think -- taking care of that problem at least. For sake of reference, I did consider taking my business elsewhere, but from the evidence available to me, I figured I'd not do much better with another truck vendor, that the deal I'd originally been quoted was indeed due to the gross incompetence of the non-employee who quoted it and not to usual UHaul business practices, and that I was best off trying to work this particular situation for as many freebies as I could get. I got a handtruck, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but it did have the slight symbolism of an only partially-tarnished silver lining.

So, yes, the universe is trying to physically stop me from moving. It's also trying to psychologically persuade me that I don't actually want to be doing this. This past weekend, a barge rammed the 520 bridge. How? Why? Nobody really knows. There's no evidence of drugs or alcohol, the barge was obeying the posted speed limits, and the crew were trusted veterans. All they do know is that one of the support pillars is severely cracked. The Seattle Times has described the bridge as "crippled," and the Transportaton Department is saying they won't be able to repair it for at least a month. Until then, one of the two eastbound lanes -- aka, one of my two morning commute lanes -- will be closed. I've seen the traffic along the Montlake cut -- at times when the bridge is ordinarily smooth sailing -- and it's not a prtetty sight. August is going to be a very long month.

It gets better, though. Sound Transit, the folks who are bringing Seattle a multi-billion dollar boondoggle of a light rail system (I'm just parroting the Stranger party line here, which says that Seattle needs a mass transit system, sure, but that the way to go isn't a train but a monorail. Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!), are planning dig a three-block long 70-foot pit in Broadway, centered roughly on my building, put a train tunnel at the bottom of the pit, cover over the tunnel with a steel deck, and then put Broadway back on top of the deck. Oh, and also, they're going to pave over a nearby resevoir and put another street on top of that. Inspection of the plans available online would appear to indicate that Sound Transit will be purchasing the building next to the one I'm moving into, knocking it down and using it as a staging area for the whole digging-of-pit process.

The friend who told me about this whole construction madness said they were going to start in mid-August. My first thought on hearing this was that when the people started fleeing my building, I'd probably be able to get off the waiting list for a parking spot. A more extensive analysis of the available information has, however, provided the tentative information that this construction will indeed start in mid-August, but that's August of 2001, which gives me a whole year of peaceful existence before they come for me with the jackhammers. It was an adventure and a half to figure this out, though -- I challenge anyone to find anywhere on the web a definitive (and reasonably up-to-date) answer to the question of when Sound Transit will start ripping up Broadway, to within six months. Search engines are your friend; bureaucracy is not.