bridgesLast session’s legislative attack on the I-90 two-way HOV project has been discussed mainly as an attack on East Link, and it was.  Nevertheless, it’s useful to remember on days like today that “reverse-peak” HOV capacity is critical to the flow of buses and carpools.

There weren’t really any accidents or anything today; it was just run-of-mill congestion on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

Edit from Ben: I can’t say it was really run-of-the-mill. I got on the 545 at Overlake around quarter after 6, and didn’t make it to Denny and Stewart until nearly 7:45. An extra hour lost. Yesterday was the same way – exceptionally nasty.

Edit from Martin: I was referring to I-90, not 520, and the point was that there wasn’t some massive wreck or other cause of delay.  I believe my point stands.

42 Replies to “I-90 HOV”

    1. Yeah, I used to see you post in the Seattle community back in the day. I see an IE cake, are you in 50?

      1. I’ve been using it for a while. I have a Touch Pro.

        – It has no tabs.
        – There’s sometimes up to a one second delay before responding to a scroll attempt. Scrolling is nowhere near as smooth as Opera.
        – Text entry can have a 1-2 second delay between key entry and visibility on the page.
        – It just now took six seconds to respond to my double-touch to zoom. I set the phone down, and then it zoomed.
        – It doesn’t seem to support variable zoom. This sucks for 640×480, it feels written for 320×240 – I don’t want to be as zoomed in as much as it wants to.
        – There’s no context menu when I hold a link.

        I’ll give it these things:
        – Page rendering is faster than Opera.
        – It doesn’t bring up controls blocking my viewing area when I scroll around.
        – It’s much better at CSS than Opera.

        Overall, it’s a step in the right direction, but how long before I get the tabbed browsing Opera had in 6.1? That’s a dealbreaker for me right now, I use mail in the first tab, and open links in a second.

    2. You can thank the driver that thought it was a good idea to leave his pickup truck locked and unoccupied in the right lane of Westbound 520 just before the bridge.

      1. Was that it? I saw it on the DOT tow truck, but I just figured there’d been an accident.

      2. And just an hour ago wsdot_traffic says: Sr 520 westbound at midspan west collision blocking left lane

        One stalled vehicle on the bridge means my commute just got at least 30 minutes longer. Then it backs up on to Montlake and I-5.

  1. I was just wishing I could have taken link from Mercer Island to the U-district. My poor clutch.

  2. yikes that looks nasty. I leave work at 1 to avoid 405 traffic. they should just keep the express lanes open westbound ALL day. for some reason, it’s heaviest in the morning and in the evening getting into seattle because of all the games etc.

  3. I can’t wait till light rail reaches the east side. Then commuting to Seattle won’t be so miserable:

    1. Do you know if the current work in Redmond on 520 will impact the plans of East Link for segments D&E? Four new lanes takes up a lot of space. Cutting off Redmond’s planned ROW would increase the cost of ST3.

      1. One of the plans in ST2 is right of way preservation (and/or purchase) for segment E to Redmond, and I haven’t heard anything about 520 work being a problem. You should email Sound Transit, though – the guy in charge of policy and planning is Greg Walker ( should work), he’d probably know who to send you to if he didn’t know the answer.

    2. Yes, because our entire metro plus 2 million random people from nowhere will ride it every day! YESSSSS!

    3. That really only happens because the Japanese lines are private – they limit supply to make as much money as possible. With a system here, we’ll add trains before that happens.

  4. Traffic like that is one reason I take the train to King Street then bike to Mercer Island. It’s often faster than driving. (Not to mention being able to work on the train.)

    1. You work on Mercer Island and live in South King or something? That’s kind of a neat commute.

      1. I live in Pacific, just south of Auburn. (Hundred-year-old Transit Oriented Development — Pacific was platted as an addition to Seattle, linked by the Interurban. The whole town was walking distance to the Interurban tracks, where the Interurban Trail now runs.)

        Train + Bike vs. 167 to 405 to 90, there are days biking the whole route would be as fast as driving ;-)

  5. My theory for what’s been going the last week is that with it being finals week at UW, a lot of parents have been picking up their kids. I’ve noticed on each of my hellish trips back to Seattle that the Montlake offramp has been backed up to 520. 520 has been nuts, and I-90 is probably just seeing spillover. So next week should be better, right?

    1. High School Graduations at Hec Ed. Woodinville was Tuesday. It took the 545 almot 50 minutes to get from 51st to the Montlake Flyer Stop. I was sure glad I wasn’t in a car wait on the ramp. I knew that part of the trip alone would take another 10-15 minutes.

      Yesterday I rode the 520 bike trail from 51st all the way to the end (116th & Northup) I was passing cars the entire way. Because of the goofy outside HOV lane it’s slower when traffic backs up than the GP lanes east of 405.

      1. Ah, the HOV lanes will go to the inside edge when they’re extended across the bridge. Having them on the outside is preferable when they’re partial, because you cause buses more problems than you save in time by forcing them to merge across GP traffic.

      2. Yeah but they’ve been “partial” since the seventies. There really wouldn’t be that much involved in building flyer stops. They don’t have to be like the the monument they built at Totem Lake. As it is now they might as well all be GP lanes because when you need the benefit of dedicated right of way the HOV lanes are slower because of the weave and merging of people trying to get over to the GP lanes. Even if they did build inside flyer stops darn few people actually use the stops between 405 and the floating bridge. Express buses could use an inside HOV lane from Overlake Transit Center all the way to the bridge deck. Then they’d have two miles to move over before Montlake and the traffic is usually moving again once it get onto the bridge deck.

      3. The current 520 HOV lanes to the bridge were meant to be shoulders. They’re designated 3+ to limit traffic in that very narrow lane. I would keep them there until they find the space to put in a proper shoulder.

        I rarely see people use the Yarrow Point flyer stop but the westbound Evergreen Point flyer stop is an important transfer point for people from Kirkland and Redmond going to the upper UW campus (not the med center).

        The flyer stops there (Montlake to Yarrow Pt) don’t look ADA accessible either.

      4. You’re right that the HOV lanes are just a restriped shoulder. But they’re getting just about as much traffic as the GP lanes now anyway and buses have to be hard on the pavement. On the other hand if the HOV lanes moved to the center then there’d be more truck traffic on the outside so maybe it’s a wash. Anyway, it’s going to be about 7 years until they plan to open the new bridge. It seems like moving to a center configuration would be worth it for the interim especially since the situation is only going to get worse as destruction starts in earnest on the corridor.

        Evergreen Point could still function as a flyer stop but just not for the Express buses. Maybe some buses could be routed through Medina (nah, that’ll never happen). Or for not that much money it could be moved to the center (a couple of pedestrian bridges and a few jersey barriers). The old toll plaza is wide enough to accommodate this without the “bulge” in the outside lanes being too severe. Certainly nowhere near as bad as the old bulge in the I-90 bridge or the one just removed from the Hood Canal bridge and it’s only temporary.

  6. You guys should ride bicycles on days like this. It’s beautiful out, the bike lane is nearly empty and you can easily beat that commute without breaking a sweat. Plus you can feel superior to the folks stuck on the bridge.

    I’m riding nearly 17 miles each way, and yesterday I drove in. So it was 10 minutes faster to drive, and I watched myself for that first 10 minutes at work to see how I used that time….wasted reading this forum for sure! But not really all that productive vs knowing that I got my daily exercise in.

    But I understand riding in November/December/January in this area really, really sucks most winters. And a decent alternative is necessary.

    1. I’ve ridden in a lot, but from Redmond to Capitol Hill means either 22-ish miles on the Burke-Gilman/SRT, or through Bellevue and over I-90. I’m thinking of the latter again, but it’s incredibly dangerous, and *most* days the bus beats the cycle by a good half-hour.

      Plus, I have screwed up knees. :(

      1. Or West Lake Sammamish to I-90. Not so good for the way in but a good option for the return in the evening (load the bike and bus one way). As a bonus you get to pass about a mile of backed up cars at the traffic circle.

      2. Ride to Montlake, throw the bike on a bus going across the bridge (any bus, it doesn’t matter which one), get off at Evergreen Point and bike to campus, do the reverse on the way home.

        The only real issue is there is a bit of an unpleasant gap in the bike trail between Bellevue Way and 116th where you have to ride on Northrup Way which isn’t exactly bike friendly in that section. On the plus side you can stop at Dixie’s BBQ on the way home!

    2. Winter cycling around here sucks if you’re riding a racing bike. But if you get a reasonable commuter bike, and spend a fraction of the car savings on good rain gear, it’s really not nearly as bad as you’d think.

      This seems obvious in countries where more cyclists are utilitarian than recreational, but is lost on most bike companies in the U.S.

      A winter commuter bike should have reasonably wide tires, full fenders with mud flaps, a chain guard, and a drivetrain that doesn’t require lots of maintenance when ridden in the rain. For me, that’s a Bianchi Milano, with 8-speed internal gearing (like an old 3-speed hub, but with a wide enough gear range to handle Seattle hills).

  7. A visual reminder of the limitations of rubber tire transportation.

    Plug-in hybrids, electric cars, longer and larger buses…all this “progress” means more and worse traffic.

    And more demand for light rail!

    1. Longer and larger buses typically don’t mean worse traffic, assuming they add a couple of passengers! :)

    2. Or replace articulated buses with double-deck buses for the same capacity, in less space.

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