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This is Bertha in March 2015, en route to a nearby repair platform.

Photo: Seattle Department of Transporation

Bertha 

We’re replacing the creaky Alaskan Way Viaduct with a $4.25 billion tunnel project, but Bertha, the machine assigned to the job and the world’s largest deep borer, has been stuck for more than a year.  Conversation Starter “Maybe it really is time to send Bertha to the scrap heap and build a ped-­friendly boulevard. Also, really? We named a now-ineffective piece of equipment after 1920s politician Bertha Knight Landes, Seattle’s first and only female mayor?” 

Kshama Sawant 

In the 2013 city council elections, Seattle elected a self-proclaimed socialist who successfully championed the $15 minimum wage. Conversation Starter “The K is silent. Also, now that a $15 minimum wage is in the works, Sawant is taking on the establishment again with rent control. Also-also, my rent is so high right now.” 

Gridlock 

Seattleites spend an estimated 37 hours a year stuck at a near standstill in traffic.  Conversation Starter “It could be worse. Consider Los Angeles (where drivers spend 64 hours caught in traffic) or San Francisco (56 hours). Got a bike? The city just laid down more than seven miles of protected bike routes (with a total of 36 miles by 2019). Pedal pushers spend approximately zero hours stuck in traffic annually.”

Density 

We expect an 18 percent increase in new residents in the next 20 years, but the mayor recently spiked a plan to build multifamily housing in Seattle’s charming single family neighborhoods.  Conversation Starter “Sixty-five percent of the city is currently zoned for single families. Did you know only 3 percent of Portland is zoned exclusively single family?”

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