CHOKEPOINTS

Flying cars and bridge behemoths: 2021’s transportation curiosities and oddities

Dec 23, 2021, 6:24 AM
ZEVA, flying cars, transportation...
ZEVA's personal flying vehicle (right), next to a model of the Wright brothers' plane. (Photo courtesy of ZEVA/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of ZEVA/Facebook)

It can’t always be about road projects, construction delays, tolls and ferries. There were also several fun transportation related stories over the course of 2021.

Let’s begin with a mystery road found under the Maple Valley Highway that delayed a culvert project for a couple of days in October.

Maple Valley Highway mystery

Workers excavating in the area near Cedar Grove Road found some wooden planks. Because no one knew what they were, the state called in archaeologist Jason Cooper to investigate.

“My job is to evaluate it and make the determination if this was a significant piece of roadway,” Cooper told KIRO Radio.

It turned out to be nothing special, allowing work to continue. Cooper traced the history and determined that it was part of the original road from Renton to Maple Valley, built in the 1920s. Most of that original road was made of dirt and rock, but the wood was needed because this particular spot was prone to floods.

“It wasn’t just thrown together. It was built as a solution to this particular wet, soggy spot,” Cooper continued.

Now, 100 years later, the Cedar River still floods that same area.

Largest concrete girder

Earlier this year, we also talked about the largest girder ever made in the United States being installed on I-5 in Tacoma. At 223 feet long, 9 feet high, and over 250,000 pounds, it was the largest of 30 girders placed over the Puyallup River to create the new southbound I-5 bridge.

Tacoma freeways near end of 20-plus year construction cycle (kind of)

“It’s the largest pre-stressed concrete girder made in North America,” Washington State Department of Transportation’s Cara Mitchell told KIRO Radio. “And it’s being made right here in Tacoma.”

Work around this new bridge will continue through mid-2022, when all the lanes of the new span will open.

Flying cars

And who can forget about our discussion of flying cars? A Tacoma company is building an electric personal flying vehicle that it believes will be the future of transportation.

“ZEVA” is engineer Steve Tibbitts’ brainchild, a drone-like flying vehicle that can take off and land vertically, so it won’t need runways to operate.

“The thrust causes it to fly up vertically straight away, and then, within maybe 20 to 30 seconds, it’s developing enough speed where it’ll transition to forward flight. And then you’re flying through the air, kind of like Superman,” Tibbitts told KIRO Radio.

At 160 miles an hour at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet, ZEVA can go 50 miles on a single charge. Tibbitts envisions a future where you can buy one of these vehicles for personal use at an expected cost of $250,000. He sees companies or cities buying fleets of them to provide on-call ride service.

“A utopia, in my mind, is to be able to walk to your vehicle, fly, and then walk to your destination,” Tibbitts said. “There’s no intermediate car access that is going to continue to clog up the highways.”

Tibbitts believes the flying cars will come to fruition in 2040.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

Chokepoints

Trash is strewn along an Interstate 5 freeway on-ramp as viewed in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by G...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: A glance at current Washington state laws to avoid littering on the road

Littering is still a huge problem on our roads, but are you still required to carry a trash bag in your car?
9 days ago
Expansion joints underneath I-5 (KIRO Newsradio)...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 will be shut-down this weekend through Seattle for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.
14 days ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

The new site and app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly alongside 6,000 new card readers and vending machines.
17 days ago
fare...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Sound Transit passes fare reform with diminished ridership accountability checks

Sound Transit no longer has mechanisms in place to check I-D's and track who isn't paying in the first place with their decision to remove law enforcement from the fare enforcement process.
20 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Work to remove bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle set to bring months of weekend closures

Workers are about kick off work to remove those bumps on I-5 through Seattle, but it's going to come with a heavy price for drivers.
28 days ago
WSDOT, HOV lanes...
Chris Sullivan

Northbound HOV optimism and aggressive litter cleanup in Puyallup

Nearly every morning on the KIRO Newsradio text line, I receive this question: When will the northbound HOV lane open?
30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Flying cars and bridge behemoths: 2021’s transportation curiosities and oddities