Putting a Lid on Security

Actually, the title of this blog post should be, Putting Security into the Lid Planning.

by Eric Holdeman / March 8, 2019

The dialog and design has started on the concept of covering more of Interstate 5 that runs north-south through downtown Seattle. Sixty years ago when they were starting to build that freeway, there was little thought to how many more people and cars would provide congestion to this region. Someone had the bright idea to use the space over I-5 to build the Seattle Convention Center. And, at the same time they constructed a portion of the airspace over the freeway as open space — a park. Want to guess the name? How about "Freeway Park?"

Now they are looking at using more of that "airspace" over the freeway for green space, housing or commercial buildings. To developers, I'm sure it all makes great sense. Personally, I favor green space for several reasons. One is park space is limited in that area of the city and then there is the security issue.

Let me take you back to 1998-99. Planning was underway for the World Trade Organization's (WTO) conference in Seattle. This ended up becoming the Battle in Seattle with a number of days of rioting in the downtown streets by thousands of protesters and hundreds of police. That was the longest week, with more personal hours of work than I've ever done since leaving the Infantry. 

Before the actual event, there was a site visit by members of the WTO. This delegation included their security staff. Imagine their surprise and amazement when they found out that the Convention Center that was the site for WTO meetings was built over the freeway that carried any number of semi-trucks and tanker trucks, etc., that could be transformed into rolling building killer bombs. It was not an ideal situation.

Well, no one blew up the convention center and the only thing it was the end of was the then-mayor's political career. After that, he could do nothing right in the eyes of the public.

Not many terrorists want to blow up parks. They would rather target buildings. Housing could be a potential target, but then since the convention center is already there — that is the primary target — right?

My only reason in writing is to say that developers and urban planners are working everywhere to promote new building in cities. Wouldn't it be nice if at some point in the planning, they gave security a significant consideration? I don't expect that security will over-rule other decision-making, but then it would be a deliberate decision to do so. If that happens, then I guess we can call that progress.