About six months ago, I wrote about the Uptown-Belltown Transit Project, an SDOT project to improve the bus interface between Belltown and Uptown. As I discussed and diagrammed in that post, all buses to or from Queen Anne, Magnolia or Ballard (via Interbay) must, in the outbound direction, traverse an awkward and time-consuming jog between 3rd Ave and 1st Ave N via Broad St and 1st Ave. In addition, trolleybuses must make this jog in the inbound direction, thanks to the lack of three blocks of trolleybus wire eastbound on Denny Way.
SDOT seeks to rectify these problems by adding the necessary inbound trolley wire and studying the possibility of a transit-only signalized left turn from 3rd to Denny. SDOT still doesn’t have a page on their website about this project, so last week, I checked in with SDOT’s Bill Bryant to see what progress has been made since then.
The first part of the project, which I labeled “Part A” in my previous post, to add trolleybus wire on Denny, is at 30% design and proceeding well; SDOT will probably start public outreach soon, and hopes to perform construction in 2013. For “Part B”, an RFP has been assembled to study the 3rd-Denny left turn, and that study should start early next year. The outcome of that study isn’t known, but Part A has been designed to accommodate the necessary additional trolleybus wire if that transit-only signal turns out to be feasible.
More after the jump.
In the interim, SDOT is making a small improvement to Broad St to improve the reliability of outbound bus service. On the north side of Broad Street, a lane of parking will be removed in the afternoon peak to make a bus-only lane. Bryant tells me that while Broad St usually works well for transit, this lane’s purpose is primarily to address occasional severe reliability problems in the PM peak. I suspect these problems occur on days when traffic accidents close a freeway entrance in the north end of downtown, and the whole north end of the city center is paralyzed.
Along with the improvements to facilities Metro has made in Uptown as part of RapidRide, many of which were poorly-lit, ill-maintained and generally inadequate for the number of people they served, these small projects will have quite significantly improved the user experience of transit service in Uptown — and it’ll get even better once Metro manages to get their real-time arrival information signs working and the ORCA readers unhooded (I have questions in to Metro about when we can expect this to happen).
In the last year, SDOT has been on a rampage of improving stops, adding bus bulbs, bus lanes and queue jumps on major corridors like Aurora, Market/45th and here in Belltown. These sorts of things aren’t sexy and they aren’t going to save the world, but they’re cheap and effective, and SDOT deserves credit for continuing to move ahead on them.