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.


electric vehicles...
Chris Sullivan

Market expert: Consumer confidence in electric vehicles is on the rise

Price, charging infrastructure, and range are the three improving indexes for gradual consumer confidence in electric vehicles.
3 days ago
flight, 5G...
Chris Sullivan

Major US airlines warn of flight disruptions Wednesday as new 5G service starts

Many airlines are warning of flight delays Wednesday as new 5G frequencies are fired up by cell phone companies that could interfere with landing.
5 days ago
reversible lane, 520...
Chris Sullivan

Reversible lane between SR 520 and I-5 under construction

The state Department of Transportation is ramping up work to add a reversible HOV lane between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes in Seattle.
5 days ago
snow removal...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT accuses Kittitas County of ‘misinformation’ on snow removal dispute

The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation is basically saying Kittitas County is lying about its snow removal complaint.
9 days ago
Puget Sound commute...
Chris Sullivan

Uncertainty surrounding COVID, work schedules brings changes to Puget Sound commute

Commute times typically see a dip over the winter holidays, but it springs right back after the first of the year. That didn't happen this year.
10 days ago
pass closures...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT head tells legislature vaccine mandate had no impact on recent pass closures

The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation faced angry lawmakers Monday, asking if the vaccine mandate had an impact on pass closures.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles


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, 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.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Flying cars and bridge behemoths: 2021’s transportation curiosities and oddities