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Tom and Curley

John Curley being wrong ‘saved 20,000’ lives in Seattle

An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people attended the 520 floating bridge celebration. (AP)

KIRO Radio’s John Curley doesn’t like to be wrong, so when he drastically underestimated the number of people who would attend a celebration for the new 520 floating bridge, he took his own high road.

“The fact that I was wrong saved the lives of 20,000 people,” he said. “Who knew there were 25,000 people who had nothing better to do than walk across a bridge and almost die? Almost die is how I’m spinning the headline.”

Related: Forward thinking may prevent future headaches for 520 commuters

Saturday’s “party” that accompanied the 520 bridge unveiling was filled with some highs and lows. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people attended the food truck-filled event on the bridge, but a lack of shuttle buses created a bottleneck that left attendees unable to leave the bridge, according to The Seattle Times. Though event planners had anticipated up to 40,000 people, officials announced shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday that no more visitors would be admitted onto the bridge.

Co-host Tom Tangney said the “Tom and Curley” show deserves credit and blame for what happened Saturday after Curley originally predicted only 100 people would show up while Tom said at least 20,000 would pounce at the once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk along the middle of the bridge.

“Because of those two pieces of information, they were unprepared for the fact that there were 25,000 to 30,000 of them who wanted to go,” Tangney said. “The only thing that was poorly planned was how to exit. All the thousands of them wanted to get off at the same time. They only had shuttles that could do 100 people at a time. Fifty-one shuttles. That’s the problem.”

Curley, who mocked the event Friday while warning visitors that pit bulls and feral cats would be released on the bridge, said Monday he was “shocked” that so many people were actually interested in attending.

“If they’re planning for 40,000 and they can’t handle 25,000, just thank God there were some 15,000 people that had something better to do than be stuck on the bridge,” Curley said. “I saw the movie Bridge on the River Kwai. I know what can happen on a bridge.”

Tangney called the state department of transportation “victims of their own success” with the party. He said the Seattleites should applaud themselves for having such a successful bridge and that so many people wanted to check it out on a relatively nice day.

That’s not how Curley viewed it.

“What it says is there are a lot of parents with kids who are tired of going to the zoo,” Curley said.

Tom and Curley on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 9am for The Tom and Curley Show.

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