Montlake Area

Everything with SR-520 has been moving at a fast clip over the last few months and for the first time it seems like consensus is starting to build around a single design. To me this consensus is emerging because city leaders have finally asserted themselves and WSDOT and state leaders are finally making meaningful changes (but not necessary concessions) that are good for neighbors, transit, and non-motorized users.

The Seattle City Council and Mayor have taken a very active role in this project since the last election. In April the Council laid out what needed to change and last week’s revised design in some ways goes beyond what the Council asked for. To his credit, most of what the Council asked for was discussed in the Nelson/Nygaard Project Enhancement Report McGinn commissioned. While the city has been engaged for many years it feels likeit has only recently taken a proactive role. More below the jump.

In many ways I think the Council’s letter got it right. First they insisted on performance standards for the transit/HOV lanes with associated triggers and mandatory actions when their performance drops below a certain level. They also called out WSDOT saying “The High Capacity Transit Plan for SR-520 lacks specificity with regards to service availability, particularly mid-day… as a result, we believe more specific commitments and transit service investments need to be sough from Metro and ST.” Essentially Metro and ST need more money and since WSDOT is eliminating the flyer stop WSDOT and the state need to step up and help pay for operating hours. Finally the Council insisted on better connections between LINK, SR-520 buses and the UW saying “One of the council’s primary goals for this work is to identify ways to reduce the walking distance between all the transit modes that will serve the Montlake Triangle”. The Council and Mayor need to continue to push for these things.

Conversely, WSDOT  has finally learned than it can’t just throw in a lid here or “transit improvement” there. This has always been a complex and urban multi-model project but WSDOT simply has not acknowledge this until now. Only recently has the debate over this project broadened from neighborhood specific impacts and number of lanes to bus operations and priority, transfers to Link and the pedestrian and bicycle environment. These are important details that can’t just be added on afterwards, and probably wouldn’t in light of WSDOT’s poor leadership on these issues so far. This shift is probably due to WSDOT and state leaders realizing they have to make some meaningful changes to take the wind out of their opponents sails and the Project Enhancement Report clearly showed what was needed and viable. And of course it doesn’t hurt that they saved money by removed the I-5 lid and Arboretum ramps.

The Project Enhancement Report was overshadowed by the light-rail report, but I think it is much more important. The report focused on 3 city goals, improve transit operations, improve the pedestrian and bicycle environment, and improve the neighborhood environment. Many of the recommendations in that report like the two-way busway and bus stop on a single large lid, westbound freeways exists at 24th Ave, urban style interchange, narrowed and 45 MPH speed limit Portage Bay crossing, UW triangle pedestrian bridges, etc. were key features of the revised design released last week. These are all things that WSDOT hasn’t give enough attention until now.

The report also shows that the 3 goals mentioned above sometimes conflict, with the second Montlake Cut bridge being the issue the Montlake Community Council seems most intent on fighting. As someone who writes for a transit blog, I certainly think that HOV/Transit only lanes on a second bridge are necessary. Today 594 buses a day cross the cut and that number will significantly increase in the future.  I would like to see the City Council and the Mayor stand up and say that this is a critical transit connection that cannot be sacrificed because of community opposition.

For me the take away is this. Everything looks much better than it did a few months ago but the devil is in the details, and there are still a lot of missing details.

51 Replies to “Musing about SR-520”

  1. Thanks, Adam, for bringing more attention to the Project Enhancement Report.

    A word of caution: Nowhere in the letter from the council does the council actually specifically endorse the pedestrian bridge across Montlake Blvd by UW Station. We may need to keep an eye on whether the city tries to say no thanks to this bridge, based on blanket adherence to past policies.

    The city gets it wrong on the HOV lane location because they don’t want to pay the cost of relocating the trolley wires. But they get the bridge size right, and then call for looking at building the fixed-span (non-opening) bridge to the east of MoHI. I’d actually be happy letting the Montlake Bridge stay just the way it is if we can get the higher bridge to the east by 2016. Getting the outer lanes striped for HOV on the four-lane bridge and adjoining area may be a political struggle, but at least we’ll have the neighbors on our side. And, we’ll want to keep those lanes for the routes serving Capitol Hill, even if we get the MoHI bridge.

    If the neighborhood says yes to the MoHI bridge, then my money says WSDOT will give in and let it happen. They are just tired of prolonging the planning for this project, and the governor seems tired of it being a divisive issue lowering her positive ratings. She’s calling for speed, not getting her way.

    Jonathan, where does the neighborhood stand on the MoHI bridge?

    1. Would McGinn want to peg 520 light rail hopes on this high bridge? Would it be best not to bother for fear of cannibalizing progress thus far?

      1. I’m not terribly impressed with what WSDOT has offered. I am impressed by the fact that they have offered.

        If we have a counter-offer that is less expensive, how can WSDOT say No? (well, other than the proposal to sink the bridge) Which is more expensive? The lid plus the tri-grade Montlake Interchange plus a new bascule bridge? Or simply building the high bridge?

        On a political commentary side note, it does appear like the city was missing from the 520 project table until Mayor McGinn came along. I’m just sayin’.

    2. I *highly* doubt the city would say no to a land bridge. They city doesn’t like sky bridges but if you sink cars underground that is a completely different thing. Its just like a lid. Also I highly doubt that this modification was made in a vacuum without some kind of city input. This issues will be addressed much more in the future because of the working group that will be working on that.

      1. Oh and they actually have it right when it comes to the lane configuration on the Montlake cut bridge. The HOV/Transit lanes should be in the center of Montlake Blvd not the outside. It depends somewhat on how the lanes transition onto Pacific Ave but I think center running is much more preferable to outside running simply because it is faster and much more protected from turning movements. It also works better with how the lid would be set up.

    3. The currently proposed second drawbridge is a lightning rod in Montlake and beyond. I’m getting multiple emails about it while I am typing this response. We are pleased to see a softening of the state’s position in favor of it; the city and state apparently intend to collaborate on a traffic management plan, which sounds generally helpful. We need more information and discussion on this upcoming process.

      As for the potential of a fixed (high level) bridge further east, that is a topic on which many people will have strong opinions, all for good reasons. It might make a difference to some people whether it has 70 or 110 feet of clearance, and whether it is a light rail bridge or rail-convertible HOV or dedicated transit bridge; the old Pacific Street Interchange was 4 GP lanes across the cut on a fixed bridge with a giant elevated interchange in the Arboretum; it’s absolutely understandable why that particular concept met a lot of resistance over noise, view, land use and other environmental impacts, even though it was a huge winner in terms of mobility. One can’t have it all (although we’ve certainly tried, with a vehicular tunnel.)

      My community is active in the Coalition for a Sustainable 520 (as is every neighborhood SR 520 traverses, and others) and the coalition is aligned with the Mayor’s priorities on this project. Montlake has been open to the notion of a high-level bridge in years past, if it is well designed (we seem to get little credit for what we are actually open to), but presently there is no official community position on that topic, while we are clearly passionately opposed to the second drawbridge, an element we argue is no better than marginal in its transportation benefits, while coming with significant costs. There are some who find a high level bridge alternative further to the east an appealing concept, others who find it somewhat objectionable or highly so (I think it’s safe to say UW is on that list), some who would prefer to see a tunnel instead of a bridge, and some who suffer from the cognitive dissonance of holding all of those opinions at the same time as almost everything has both costs and benefits. It is also not a specific concept at this time – note the family of potential alignments illustrated recently by WSDOT, some of which cross Marsh Island, some of which go near East Montlake Park – so it can represent our best hopes and our worst fears simultaneously, regarding such things as noise and view impacts. The community is strongly supportive of enabling light rail to be added to this corridor without major reconstruction, and recent changes to the project in response to the Mayor’s scope of work are helpful in that regard, even if they don’t go far enough.

      Bottom line – the community is supportive of enabling light rail, tends to see both sides of the issue of a high level bridge and has yet to take any official position regarding the concept. Thanks for asking.

      1. Johnathan could you explain why it is such a lighting rod? We are talking about 1 or 2 houses (construction of I-5 destroyed something like 5,000). Also the width of Montlake Blvd probably won’t change since it is already 3-4 lanes wide in both directions, which is ample to add dedicated HOV/Transit lanes and it won’t increase vehicle volumes. I just don’t get what there is to oppose.

      2. The width of Montlake from 520 to UW will most certainly grow, as WSDOT’s greenprint shows. North of UW is another matter, but SOV traffic there will certainly expand if it is allowed to expand across the bascule bridges.

        This, just when U-Link would be three years from completion, undermining the whole purpose of U-Link.

      3. Volumes will not grow because of the crossing. Even with a second bridge there will be *no* additional SOV lanes. It will still be 2 lanes NB and 2 lanes SB with the two addition lanes for HOV and Transit only.

        Montlake just south of the bridge has enough asphalt already paved for 3 lanes SB and 3 lane NB. One of those lanes in each direction will go to transit with SOVs in the other two lanes.

        Volumes may increase over all but that isn’t because of the 2nd bridge, that will be because SR-520 isn’t as bad of a mess as it is now.

      4. Adam, I feel like you’re trying to argue both ways here—how is it the case that taking 600ish busses a day off the existing 4-lane bridge doesn’t increase SOV capacity? I’m sure it doesn’t increase it as much as adding SOV lanes would, but your favorite model says to me that it’s more than nothing. :-)

      5. Thanks for asking. It’s not mostly about those two homes; it’s also about the integrity of what is considered a historic district along an Olmsted boulevard adjacent to two historic landmarks (Montlake Bridge, Ship Canal.) There are numerous pragmatic concerns but the lightning rod aspect has more to do with the notion that we are on the verge of sacrificing the soul of this very special place to move additional vehicles through widening roads. The actual transit benefits are questionable and have not really been modeled separately from the rest of the project. That is necessary for us to do a proper cost-benefit analysis of this bridge or various alternatives, at least of some of which would simply make better use of the infrastructure we already have.

        The issue is about urban design, historic preservation, environmental values, sustainability… it’s really about the sort of city we want to become, and that’s something people feel really passionate about, because we are not just inspired to preserve the economic value of our homes, but also to be stewards of this very special place where a great deal of civilization and nature co-exist. A lot of people care about this landscape, not just the people who live next to it. I actually do not live next to it myself, but it’s the single most emotional issue on this whole project for me, and I’ve been pretty analytic in this process. I encourage everyone to spend some time along the ship canal, walking along the trails, kayaking through there, get to know it, in part because it can be a rewarding experience, but also to develop better awareness of what it is that would be lost if we construct this additional bridge beyond the $81 million it takes to build it. The state’s pursuit of the concept has been met with a combination of anger, sadness, determination… and a whole lot of fundraising.

        Of course, the existing bridge was an imposition on this landscape in 1925, but we really did need it then, and it had the good grace to be a beautiful bridge, and now it is cherished. And the entire landscape is somewhat man-made in the 20th century, and was inhabited for eons by the Duwamish before that. Mobility is one of many important values in this equation. It is a fascinating and beautiful landscape that we are fortunate enough to inhabit. The opposition to the second drawbridge relates as much to those values as it does to the vehicle counts and slivers of time saved here or there.

      6. Thanks for the response. I understand your concern. I lived in Eastlake on Boylston and Hamlin for a year and my apartment faced the freeway. I understand what it is like. It’s not fun. With that said as someone with a masters in transportation engineering and a UW student for 7 years I’m skeptical that the current bridge will be adequate.

        I would certainly expect WSDOT to have already done modeling to determine if they need to spend $84 million dollars. If not they certainly should do that but common sense usually is the best model and my common sense tells me that transit will certainly operate better with a 2nd bridge. I’m sure operations can be improved with the current bridge but it will certainly not be to the same level as a 2nd bridge would achieve. I would be interested to see a comparison still though.

        As for historic issues I see where you are coming from. I understand that some rather not see anything change at all, but when it comes to historic preservation I’m a bit of a pragmatist. I certainly want historic buildings preserved but historic preservation in its self can’t be the only objective. It’s like saying that you shouldn’t ever remodel your house. I think that celebrating history but also moving forward are not mutually exclusive.

      7. We could solve this problem by simply filling in the cut, which really just exists for the benefit of wealthy pleasure boat owners.


      8. …the cut, which really just exists for the benefit of wealthy pleasure boat owners

        As Rob Wilkinson and I like to say, “Oh, you haven’t met the Fish People…”

      9. Adam,

        Could you explain more specifically how inner HOV lanes on Montlake Blvd would work with UW Station?

      10. The buses can operate just like Link does in the Valley. This is how all high quality BRT line operate. A new stop next to the Pacific/Montlake intersection could be built in the middle of the road. This means that riders would cross WB Pacific traffic and then cross the land bridge. This type is operations isolates buses from general traffic which is a good however it requires at least 15-20 feet of extra ROW because you aren’t using sidewalks for waiting areas.

      11. Thanks for spelling this out, Adam.

        So, the buses heading north on Pacific Avenue pull into a station in the middle of the triangle intersection, passengers get out, cross southbound Pacific/Montlake traffic at a crosswalk, and then what? They still have to get across Pacific again to get to the landbridge shown in WSDOT’s latest greenprint. Am I missing something?

        This is where the Pacific Ave Grand Transit Entrance shines: Buses getting off 520 going westbound would simply pull over at UW Station, and then continue on up Pacific Ave with just a stop light at Montlake and no turns. Or, they could turn left or right onto Montlake. Buses heading toward 520 would have an easy pullover stop right after crossing or turning off of Montlake.

        If we have outer HOV lanes on Montlake, northbound buses coming from Capitol Hill and continuing up Montlake have an easy pullover stop right at the front door of UW Station. Southbound buses continuing down Montlake would have an easy pullover stop at the edge of the footbridge, with a short staircase and an ADA-compliant ramp (or elevator) up to the bridge.

        Buses going north and turning from Montlake to Pacific could have a pullover stop across Rainier Vista from the landbridge. Buses doing the reverse would be the biggest U-Link access hurdle. In their case, crossing Montlake to stop at UW Station, doing a u-turn there, and then turning left back onto Montlake might be the best solution, but I don’t have the technical expertise to know if that is faster than having those passengers going to UW Station drop off along the westside and cross traffic.

        Of course, there remains the hurdle of getting UW to turn over the ROW for a Pacific Ave Grand Transit Entrance. They opposed a four-lane high bridge. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll oppose a two-lane high-bridge.

      12. Oh so you’re talking about a second high level bridge then? Its really hard to explain in text things like this.

        I honestly think that a second high level bridge is out of the question. It will just cost too much money, make the UW mad and will harm views for everyone on the bay. I certainly works well for transit but there are lot more impacts than a second draw bridge.

        There are a lot of ways to make this work but the whole area need to be looked at holistically.

      13. Semantics confuses here. There is no first high bridge to UW, so I’m really talking about the first. It may be the second *attempt* at a high bridge, if that’s what you meant to say, but it is a more narrow bridge, with much less car traffic (but perhaps a lot more foot and bike traffic, as tens of thousands will flock to enjoy this new view). The high bridge could be designed to have a foot/bike extension right into the Arboretum. (And I still say that we need a foot area on the bridge separated from the bikes, if only by a stripe, for the safety of pedestrians. If WSDOT folks don’t know why that is needed, spend a day walking down the Burke-Gilman trail. Right! No, Left! Crash!)

        Adding a second drawbridge adds capacity, but not for buses or HOVs, as their capacity could be ensured overnight by WSDOT agreeing to a re-striping. Plus, the buses and rail would be more fully utilized with just the one drawbridge.

        If we have a second drawbridge though, there needs to be a lot more thought put into having as many buses as possible stop at the front door of UW Station and limiting walk time for everyone who can’t have a front-door stop. Three crossings to get to the station is unacceptable. And, as you’ve pointed out, WSDOT has punted transit flow to a later committee.

        So, assuming the lack of a Pacific Ave Grand Transit Entrance, we’re talking about six bus paths (not including stop at the station and turn around to go the other way on a single route).

        Buses continuing northbound on Montlake should drop at the front door of UW Station. That’s the easy one, and a reason for outer HOV lanes. Buses doing the reverse can stop at the edge of the landbridge, and go up a stair, ramp, or elevator. Again, outer HOV lanes win.

        Buses coming south on Montlake and turning west onto Pacific would also stop at the same stop at the foot of the landbridge. Buses doing the reverse would probably do best to come straight into the station, turn around, and then turn right to continue on Montlake. (These would be local buses only.)

        Buses going north on Montlake and turning left onto Pacific could stay in the outer HOV lane and turn right into UW Station, without ever crossing general traffic. Then they’d turn around at UW Station and head straight onto Pacific, in an outer HOV lane on Pacific, where they could most easily stop at the footbridge to UW Medical Center. Buses doing the reverse would maintain their front-door stop at UW Medical Center, and then probably head straight into the station, turn around, and take the long left into the southbound HOV lane (with no southbound traffic to cross when they have the light).

        For buses continuing to/from Capitol Hill, the outer HOV lanes enable a stop near the 520 bus lanes stop on the lid. With inner HOV lanes, these buses would be stuck in general traffic.

        Going from the specific to the general, I am very curious how BRT works with inner HOV lanes at all.

      14. Sorry for the typo. I don’t really think we are on the same page because either of use can explain it in text. I’ll try to draw out sometime in the future but right now I just don’t have time.

      15. A new stop next to the Pacific/Montlake intersection could be built in the middle of the road.

        This is an intriguing idea I have not heard before that deserves exploration. The southern corner of the UW triangle could be in play as the underground parking garage is actually set back from there a ways. It’s so great to be seeing some more eyes on this problem now. Some kind of process is forming up to further refine the plan in this critical area that involves all the affected parties. That will be something to track. We are headed in a good direction with the grade-separated crossings by the UW station. What a big improvement that is over the avoidable ped-bike-vehicle conflicts with the at-grade crossing.

      16. Thanks for the response in the middle of your media frenzy. ;)

        The high bridge would deal with the second of the three big hurdles identified in the Nelson/Nygaard light rail report, leaving the pontoons. I don’t honestly know how much extra it would cost to add pontoons later vs. now. It does occur to me that if they are added later, WSDOT would make ST pay for all the costs.

        I happen to like the high bridge simply for the bus aspect, namely, the dependable trip time to UW Station.

        Thanks also for the heads up that UW is opposed. Have any ideas come forward on how to appease UW and get the ROW to build the transit grand entrance? Also, do we have ideas where the extension of 520 light rail would head through or by UW above-grade?

      17. Well, you could offer them $522 million for a parking garage, but it still might not work. Oh, wait, that was for the tunnel where they get to use the area on the surface at the end. It’ll have to be more than that :)

        The truth is, the UW is not the only potential obstacle for such a concept, nor are their concerns without merit. But it seems to me that if political will and the requirements of the situation are such that a bridge must be built in this general vicinity, it ought to be high enough that it can be an elegant, clean, fixed span without operational delays, navigational impacts, human operators, observation towers, machinery, moving parts, maintenance requirements and the huge footings required for drawbridges that open, and at the very least it ought to be capable of carrying a light rail line.

      18. There is no way in hell UW is going to give up land along the lake for a freeway off ramp. The UW wants less traffic going through campus, not more. WSDOT (actually the legislature and governor) needs to get the hint that UW intends to be a destination, not a cut through route. Make the Montlake exit HOV only (daytime hours) and be done with it. No need for Arboretum ramps, second Montlake bridge, etc. Existing lanes can be designated transit/HOV and for less money you get more mobility, less impact and it’s cheaper. Even the SOV drivers win because of reduced congestion.

      19. You keep making this argument, and I keep having the same reaction, so perhaps I should write it down and let you respond to it, rather than just grousing at my monitor: supposing I am a resident of Montlake (which, for the record, I’m not, though I was for the first 18 years of my life), what possible incentive do I have not to fight with every tooth and nail in my possession against a project that brings my neighborhood a decade of construction, a permanent increase in traffic noise and pollution, and a sharp reduction of my access to much of Seattle and all of the East Side? Or, alternatively put, a sharp increase in traffic volumes on (off the top of my head) Boyer, Delmar, and Lynn, as everybody goes up to Roanoke to get on I-5 and 520?

      20. There’s no concrete ideas for where 520 light rail would go after UW station but I’d expect it to have to have a widening of the UW Station-Brooklyn tunnel, or, if that’s not possible, its own tunnel. Then many have suggested that it continue to Ballard.

    1. Also it looks difficult for a bicycle to get past the on ramps to the South of that clover leaf of the East bound entrance. Wouldn’t a tunnel just to the South of this ramp fix that?

      1. These onramps are a problem today too. The existing path that cuts under the freeway to the Montlake playfield doesn’t help that much: the playfield area is isolated from the rest of the street grid by hills and dead ends. Also, the path is on the wrong side of the road heading northbound. Lastly, the Montlake sidewalks are not bike-friendly: there’s several low-visibility crossings with aggressive drivers.

        So I just ride in traffic the whole way.

      2. From my understanding there will be a grade separate under crossing for cyclist trying to cross Montlake and get to the path on the east side of Montlake. It is just north of the interchange. You can see it in the picture.

      3. Adam, I’ve been trying to figure out from the diagram if there’s any grade separated trail crossings. Now that you mentioned it, I can see the trail going underneath at the NW corner and coming out at the NE corner. But can you turn left immediately onto Montlake towards UW, or do you have to take that long ramp back to grade?

        The details here will determine whether these paths are convenient or greenwashing by the agency that planned I-5 through downtown. Is there anything more specific from WSDOT?

      4. If I understand correctly, Gary is referring to the vicinity of the Hop-In Grocery and the fact that there are many streets and/or ramps to cross when trying to get north or east from there in this plan.

        Here’s an idea: There should be enough room on the outside of the eastbound off-ramp coming from I-5 to tuck in a little bike path connector. This would go from the vicinity of 22nd/Roanoke (at the west end of Hop-In Grocery parking lot) down to the bicycle trail (Bill Dawson trail) that passes under the highway. This comes up to the Boulevard on the west side of Montlake Blvd. (near NOAA Fisheries) and also connects to the aforementioned tunnel under Montlake Blvd. that brings you to the lid on the east side of the Boulevard in this plan.

        Would that be useful? It’s a whole lot easier than relocating that loop ramp. Where are peds and bikes coming from and going to that could use improvement the current plan?

      5. I’m just thinking about bicycle traffic coming from 520 going toward South Lake Union and the new offices being built there by Vulcan. It’s longer than going over the top of the ridge, but it may be faster because it’s flatter.

        I was wondering if it would be possible to traverse the South side of Portage Bay to Eastlake and end up on Boyer Ave E.

    2. The north end of Capitol Hill is real tough for bikes: Interlaken interrupts most of the through streets, and Boyer is surrounded by dead ends and hills. The only through streets are the arterials: Broadway and 24th. So while it’s not anybody’s priority, given the extremely low cost, I think it makes sense to extend the bike path and see who uses it. It’s a useful route heading downhill towards Montalke, and wouldn’t be that bad climbing up to Roanoke if the freeway traffic really is slowed to 45 MPH.

    3. Never thought about it too. But good luck trying to get them to increase the width by 12 ft. Everything they have been doing is trying to cut down on the width.

    4. The Portage Bay Bridge bike lane concept has come up numerous times, but has never been included in the project. That is basically because it’s expensive and environmentally damaging to widen that crossing (the desire has been to shrink it) and it’s a long slope (roughly 5%) which is questionable in terms of safety, and there are other ways to get there. The emphasis has been on local street and trail alternatives.

      In WSDOT’s latest plan, the 520 bike lane is carried over the lid and under Montlake Blvd. down to the Playfield. If you clamber up the bike lane via Delmar to the Roanoke Park area there is another underpass proposed under 10th that could route you via Harvard down to Lakeview. With all that is now planned I believe it would actually be possible to bike from the Eastside to South Lake Union without hitting so much as a traffic light, which I must say would be a world of improvement over what’s possible now.

      1. First, a pet peeve: It is a shared path not a bike lane.

        Second, There are safety concerns about a 5% grade? The ADA requirement is a maximum of 5% with 8.33% allowed for short sections. I severely doubt the reason was safety. Personally, I think the environmental reason is enough without creating a false argument.

      2. Re: shared or multi-use path across Portage Bay. I agree, the safety excuse in particular seemed odd in Seattle where bicyclists routinely navigate much steeper grades. It was WSDOT that expressed that safety concern.

        How much more useful would this shared path be than the route on local streets? Where would it terminate? I’m not sure the cost; it would be about the same as an extra lane across Portage Bay all the way across. Wild guess: $20M.

      3. I’m not necessarily a fan of the continuation of the path due to environmental impacts and agree that we are dealing with a different concern here unlike transit access. Thanks for the information on the grade. I just hate it when reasons are thrown out in the public with no basis in engineering or otherwise.

        Thanks again!

  2. What happens to the current 520 pull-over stops under Montlake? In the plan above it only shows stops for the buses that get off at montlake and then proceed north. Will there be any stops underneath the lid for the buses that continue on 520??

    1. No, the Montlake freeway stops will be gone. For westboud trips, the only destinations today that I’m aware of are Northgate and downtown. When North Link is built out, riders from Montlake could walk to the Link station and get to those destinations.

      For eastbound, buses from the U district can use the direct access ramps and the associated stop on the lid, from downtown or Nothgate, Link is again an alternative.

      1. Not only are the Montlake Flyer stops on the highway gone in the current plans — they will in fact be gone early in the construction process, as will the Lake Washington Blvd. ramps. The traffic in the Montlake interchange area is likely to be especially challenging during that time.

        Better transit service from UW to the Eastside is envisioned (and to some extent is already funded) with an eye toward the impending removal of these stops. This year we should see Sound Transit 542, for instance — which will go from the UW to Redmond. Of course, University Link will provide all sorts of benefits when that opens.

        I suppose it is not out of the question for buses to get off and back on the highway, at least temporarily, but I have never heard the transit agencies suggest that.

      2. I believe the 542 actually begins at the 65th P&R at 65th and Ravenna (and yes, going through UW). BTW, are there any timetables for this route yet? It’s to come live in September, right? I’m tentatively excited about this route because it starts much closer to where I live. But it seems to make many stops in UW which concerns me from a ride-time perspective.

      3. It’s cool but I wish it would stop between the 65th P&R and the U District, even if only once or twice. It’d be awesome to have an ST route stop at 65th & 15th, cause that’s right by my house.

      4. As someone who lives a block or so away from that intersection (65th & 15th), and works at MS.. That would indeed be awesome!
        Anyway, given how clogged the onramps from I-5 SB to 520 EB are in the mornings, I think the delay that the 542 will incur by stopping several times in the U-district should not be too much of an issue.

      5. Among the reasons that I-5 SB to 520 EB movement is so difficult is that there are few good transit options from North Seattle to the Eastside today. That’s something we’ve been trying to improve by optimizing bus-rail transfers at the UW.

        In 2018 or whenever the Roosevelt rail station opens, the commute from 65th St. to Microsoft is going to be a whole lot faster. Of course, that’s no help tomorrow morning…

  3. mitigation for the loss of the Montlake freeway stops requires additional service subsidy. Ben S. has pointed that out on the blog.

    given that the service subsidy is not available, the SR-520 design could be further revised to retain their function if the two center lanes rose to an interseciton with Montlake Boulevard East similar to the I-90 ramps at 142nd Place SE. the stops could be cantilevered over the other lanes. yes, through trips on routes oriented to and from downtown Seattle or Northgate would be delayed, but the increase in connectivity would be worth it. the center lanes and their intersection could be used as the on and off ramps for the routes oriented to and from the U District.

    the minority of current users of the freeway stops travel to and from downtown Seattle. in 2016, their trips will be improved with Link. according to Nelson Nygaard, 80 percent of the freeway stop users are traveling to and from the east. Link will not help many of them. Route 542 will be peak only; Route 556 is peak only; Route 540 is weekday only. Only Route 271 will do a reasonable job of helping to mitigate the loss of the freeway stops. the major loss is access to Route 545. enough traffic is oriented to the U District that the two center lanes could be transit only for a short distance on either side of the new raised intersection.

    Dubman: could not the second drawbridge be handsome and well designed? Could not two of the lanes be transit only? would not the additional drawbridge break up traffic jams more quickly?

  4. Wow. This discussion has certainly gotten way down in the weeds. I can’t follow all the detail, but want to make a point re the high-level fixed-span transit and/or HOV bridge over MOHI, as most recently conceptualized.

    Seems to me this should be built as part of the first phase 520 project as a bus/HOV facility convertible to rail in the future. This would allow the elimination of the bus/HOV ramps and transit station now shown at the Montlake interchange, and elimination of the second Montlake bridge.

    Yes, this high-level bridge would increase costs but those increases would at least be partially offset by the elimination of the Montlake HOV facilities and the second bascule bridge.

  5. I don’t get how a 45 mph speed limit – the present limit is often ignored and is difficult at best to enforce – and lowering the noise by a mere 5 db is going to matter much. But, if these very-vocal neighborhood members (where they have an extremely high concentration of lawyers, I’m told) buy off on it, I guess why should anyone else care? On the other hand, connecting to the Express lanes is a long-overdue improvement. They’re still not fixing the general purpose connections, i.e. the left exit and left entrance situation (from N. 45th St. – Mercer St.) which I believe is responsible for at least 1/3 of the traffic congestion in that area. Hopefully, that can be done at some point in the not-too-distant future.

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