For Immediate Release
April 3, 2018
Regional Transportation partners ready to advance key projects to keep people moving during coming years of major traffic disruptions
The City of Seattle, King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association are taking steps to advance a series of projects totaling $30 million that will keep people moving in and around downtown Seattle, even as major public and private construction projects reduce travel capacity on our roads over the next five years.
Working together over the past two years to evaluate numerous project ideas, the agencies have developed and are finalizing proposals to jointly fund a Near-Term Action Plan to provide mobility solutions and public space improvements to benefit all users of the transportation system. Once implemented, the projects will address the coming traffic challenges in downtown Seattle, the state’s largest job center and the hub of the region’s transportation system.
“Mayor Durkan has charged the Seattle Department of Transportation to use every available resource to increase mobility, improve safety, manage traffic and oversee congestion relief so that we can continue to keep people and goods moving during this period of maximum constraint on our street network,” stated Goran Sparrman, SDOT Interim Director. “With our partners, we will act to make downtown safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and address the impacts of population growth and development of largescale construction projects so that downtown remains an attractive place to live and work, and visit – both in the near-term and the long-term.”
These solutions include:
Signal improvements on Second and Fourth avenues are currently being installed, including the addition of dedicated vehicular turn signals to separate conflicting pedestrian and vehicular movements, which will improve safety and provide corridor efficiencies for transit operations. Timing for implementation: underway
All-door bus boarding on Third Avenue will extend the successful practice of Metro’s RapidRide all-door boarding to all routes using Third Avenue. This will improve transit speeds with faster customer boarding, allowing buses to move more quickly to the next bus stop. Timing for implementation: March 2019
“These are real projects that will make a difference, and support Metro’s efforts to keep the entire region moving,” said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “Together, our agencies are focused on ensuring that transit service remains frequent and reliable.”
A new transit pathway on Fifth and Sixth avenues will provide needed transit capacity, speed and reliability for northbound buses. This project allows more buses to move through downtown Seattle and provides opportunities to redistribute bus volumes through the downtown street network. The existing northbound transit lane on Fifth Avenue will extend two blocks to Marion Street, where it will connect to Sixth Avenue and provide four new bus stops for passengers. Timing for implementation: by September 2019
Public realm and user experience improvements will create a better experience not just for those who work in and visit downtown Seattle, but also for the growing number of people who live downtown. Public space projects will enhance safety at street crossings, add lighting to the Pike Place Market to MOHAI corridor, activate public spaces around transit hubs, and augment the unique character of downtown. New and improved bus stops and pedestrian wayfinding signs will enhance the customer experience at key transfer locations throughout downtown Seattle, at the Montlake Triangle and at the International District/Chinatown Station. Timing for implementation: 2018-2019
“We have more people and jobs moving to downtown every day, and while people have more commuting options than ever before, we still need to make critical investments in downtown’s transportation network to carry us through the next five years,” says Jon Scholes, President & CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association. “It’s not only about moving people, but about improving their experience in the public realm, whether they are waiting for the bus or walking between their office and the coffee shop. This plan invests in both.”
Bicycle Network Connections are essential to solving the city’s transportation needs. In addition to the joint investment intended by partner agencies, the City of Seattle will invest additional funding in bike facilities and protected bike lanes to increase safety and comfort for cyclists. This includes planning and potential construction of a protected bike lane on Seventh Avenue (2018), providing a south end connection between the protected bike lanes on Second Avenue Extension South and Dearborn Street (2019), creating longer and more permanent protected bike lanes on Pike and Pine streets between Second Avenue and Broadway (2021), and building a protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue from Main to Vine streets after Northgate Link light rail is up and running (2021). Bicycle network connections will be funded and delivered by SDOT. Timing for implementation: 2018-2021
Fourth Avenue, a critical north-south connection, is already experiencing the impacts of construction and congestion. Building a new transit pathway on Fifth and Sixth avenues will improve transit travel times and, when paired with Fourth Avenue in its current configuration, create greater flexibility in the system to respond to future congestion. As a result, northbound buses on Fourth Avenue are expected to travel 10-15 percent faster than they do today during the afternoon rush hour.
Additional strategies to help urban goods delivery, motorists and commuters over the next few years include providing more affordable transit and expanded ORCA access to commuters; improving wayfinding for motorists looking for parking to reduce circling and congestion; and enhancing transit stops to help travelers find a ridehail or carshare vehicle to complete their trip. Timing for implementation: 2018-2021
Further work is needed in the months ahead, in coordination with regional jurisdictions and the Washington State Department of Transportation, to conduct public outreach, design these improvements, finalize funding agreements, implement the near-term projects, and develop new strategies as needed to respond to impacts of regional growth.
Before the Near-Term Action Plan is finalized, the City of Seattle, King County Metro and Sound Transit will seek to obtain the necessary approvals from their respective governing bodies. Metro secured funding for these efforts in its transit capital program. Later this month, the Sound Transit Capital Committee and full Board of Directors will consider a proposal to fund $10 million in mobility investments. Later this year, SDOT will seek budget authorization from the Seattle City Council.
“As Sound Transit continues preparing for future light rail extensions that will increase transit capacity throughout a rapidly growing region, our agency remains committed to working closely with its partner agencies to coordinate improvements throughout the region to keep people moving,” said Sound Transit Deputy Chief Executive Officer Michael Harbour.
City of Seattle DOT: Mafara Hobson, Mafara.firstname.lastname@example.org, (206) 396.3053
King County Metro: Jeff Switzer, Jeff.Switzer@kingcounty.gov, (206) 477-3833
Sound Transit: Kimberly Reason, Kimberly.Reason@soundtransit.org, (206) 689-3343
Downtown Seattle Association: James Sido, JamesS@downtownseattle.org, (206) 613.3208