This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
What can I say, I suppose it’s “HOV Lane Friday” here at Orphan Road.
Driving back from Bellevue this morning, I noticed work had begun on adding HOV lanes on and around Mercer Island:
I-90 has a two-lane reversible center roadway between Seattle and Bellevue for buses, carpools and vanpools only. Traffic travels westbound in the mornings and eastbound in the evenings on the center roadway. However, buses, carpools and vanpools that are traveling in the opposite direction of the center roadway are forced to use general-purpose lanes. This makes buses and other high occupancy vehicles traveling between Seattle and Bellevue run increasingly late during rush hours, and reduces the benefits of sharing the ride.
The reversible center lane, used on I-90 and I-5 north of Seattle, naturally only works when the bulk of traffic is going one way in the morning and the other way in the afternoon. That may have been the case years ago, when the I-90 lane was first envisioned (and it’s still mostly the case on I-5), but it’s not the case any more on the Eastside. In fact, there may even be more people traveling East in the morning. Q.E.D., the buses suck.
Fortunately, when light rail is built across I-90, they’ll do away with the reversible center lane entirely, use it for the trains instead, and put standard HOV lanes in either direction. I suspect the work on Mercer Island is a precursor to that effort.