[Note: This post is a substantial revision of two posts that were accidentally written based on outdated materials and taken down. If you did read those, you’ll find that the situation for SR520 buses has gotten substantially worse.]

Proposed Montake Dual Bascule Bridge Cross-Section (WSDOT)

Last week’s SR520 meeting had lots of pictures of how Montlake Blvd is to be configured when the project is done. The plan includes a transit lane in each direction to improve connectivity between the interchange and the Husky Stadium light rail stop, absolutely critical if the Montlake Flyer Stops are removed to save money and reduce the overall width of the interchange. The bad news is that some compromises in the project, made with good intentions, will make this connection not quite as smooth as it might otherwise be. You can find the meeting materials here, especially the key presentation.

Proposed Cross-Section at Hamlin St. (WSDOT)

Note that there is no Southbound HOV lane in the picture above. More after the jump.

HOV Lanes

The Northbound HOV lanes will be on the inside to facilitate the large number of buses turning left onto Pacific Blvd. Unfortunately, that means that buses serving stops directly adjacent to the station will end up either not using the lane or fighting across the traffic.

Southbound, the picture is even worse. Lanes will be on the outside to support buses headed south beyond SR520 like the 43 and 48, meaning eastbound buses will have to make their way through traffic to a left turn. Furthermore, the HOV lane ends somewhere between the bascule bridge and Hamlin St, so the 43 and 48 will have to fight with the traffic merging on and off of SR520.

Bus Stops

WSDOT (Click to Enlarge)

The takeaway from the diagram above is that the involved agencies haven’t really figured out what to do with bus stops in the vicinity of the light rail station. However, there are two oddities with the stops further South:

  • The Shelby St. stop serves routes traveling in the inner HOV lane, so either the stop will have to move to an island or buses will have to weave in and out of traffic to serve it.
  • Buses destined for Seattle stop several blocks south of the SR520 offramps, so there is a clunky transfer for people going from the Eastside to destinations around 23rd and 24th Avenues.

I think the whole bus plan for the West interchange has to go back to the drawing board. If the deletion of the Flyer Stops is not to make bus trips much more laborious, there must be an effective connection between SR520 and the UW Link station so that it’s an adequate alternative to continuing downtown. I would suggest three critical changes:

  • Northbound HOV lanes on the outside to support a stop on the Eastside of Montlake and close to the Link station. This allows riders to disembark without waiting for a left turn onto Pacific and avoids a street crossing. This would also support the marooned Shelby stop.
  • Southbound HOV lanes on the inside to avoid all the SOV traffic using the on and off ramps, and allowing uncongested progress to the HOV ramps.
  • A stop for 24th Avenue-bound buses somewhere in the vicinity of the direct-access ramp stops to allow transfers for riders headed South.

100 Replies to “REVISED: Changes to Montlake Blvd.”

  1. Say WSDOT/SDOT…this sure would be a great test bed for Dutch style cycle tracks. Contact the UW Built Environment Dept. if you need anyone who has been to Groningen and can show you some pictures.

  2. Geez. It looks like anyone riding The Burke to downtown is going to be asked to cross Montlake Blvd – twice??

    That’s crazy.

    Please tell me I’m misreading the diagram.

    Cycle tracks? Where? Why?

    You have a dedicated bike path on the north side of the cut. Just make sure you preserve/upgrade access to downtown on the south side. I guess you could do cycle-tracks climbing the hill, but I think a bike lane up and sharrow down would do the trick.

    1. I’m not following you… the Burke-Gilman Trail is north of the ship canal. To get downtown via bike you can take the University Bridge and Eastlake or for a little longer ride the Fremont Bridge and Dexter. Or, cross Montlake Blvd once and get on Link. :)

      1. And by the way, I emailed the ST station rep about bike parking and he said that “The UW Station currently has planned spaces for 140 bicycles”.

        If I’m not mistaken that’s a lot more than any other current station, for example after the additions there will be 77 at Columbia City:
        https://seattletransitblog.com/2010/08/20/sound-transit-to-add-277-bicycle-parking-spaces/
        I sent a followup email asking if they knew yet how many would be lockers.

      2. 140 bicycles? Even thought it’s more than any other link station, this underground station is next to the Burke Gilman, the future 520 bicycle-shoulder, and 22,000 UW-Students most of whom use their bike daily.

        And where’s the light-rail crossing the bridge? This city is so desperate for rail, yet they turned down a perfectly good oppurtunity to add more rail! I vision a line from Ballard to Issaquah via the 520 bridge and intersecting the Central Link at UW-Station. This line could also split when it’s crossed the bridge to vere north towards Kirkland, Juanita and Bothell.

      3. Eastlake, because it is not configured for bikes, is dangerous and unpleasant to ride. I much prefer to climb the shoulder of capital hill. Fremont would add 20-30 minutes to the commute of anyone coming from the NE of the city, which would make it unusable option for anyone who has a busy life; i.e. most people.

        I understand this is a transit-oriented blog not a bike blog, but you don’t have to be flippant about real, important issues. I feel I am justifiably concerned about the current configuration. Why do all this work and then make it significantly harder for bikes to get through the maze?

        I assumed their would be bike racks, and hopefully also lockers. I will probably get one for those rainy low-visibility days where biking downtown can get significantly more hazardous. In general though, I prefer to ride over the Montlake bridge every day, and would hope that they don’t create a significant impediment to commuters continuing to do so.

      4. I’m not trying to be flippant, I just don’t understand how this Montlake Blvd proposal makes it harder for bikes. Could you elaborate?

      5. Sure.

        Right now, it is by no means perfect, but hop of The Burke at the Triangle parking lot, cross a dangerous, low-visibility cross-walk, and ride a wide sidewalk down to Montlake Blvd. You can either stay on the sidewalk and cross with peds, and then take the West sidewalk across, or merge with auto traffic (what I do), and either cross the bascule bridge with cars on the grating (not recommended, as this has lead to paralysis), or hop back on the the sidewalk to get across the bridge, then either back in the road after crossing (what I do), or follow the sidewalk and dodge and annoy peds.

        It looks from the diagram as if they now expect you to, instead of use the West sidewalk, wait at the light at Montlake and Pacific, cross the street to the Link side, use the bike path to get across the East side of the bridge, and then cross back across the street at Hamlin. I could be wrong about this, as the diagram isn’t particularly clear on this point. Is there an underpass for bikes?

        At any rate, neither the current or proposed scenario is particularly ideal, but the proposed scenario appears to force bikes to dismount and cross Montlake and crosswalks twice, for no particularly good reason.

        What would have made vastly more sense, from a bicyclist’s perspective would have been to put a bike lane/path on the West side of the bridge and give bikes a legitimate ROW that would provide a safe and speedy crossing.

        The proposal looks like it will slow bike commuters crossing the cut considerably, and I’m not clear why.

        Get the buses on the East side where they can link with link, and get the bikes on the West side where they can have a smooth commute into and out of downtown.

        I suppose I could continue to mix it up with peds on the sidewalk, but I presume that is going to significantly less tolerated (right now they recommend crossing on the East side, but it’s not enforced), once bikes have their own path.

      6. Hold on. Linking through to the presentation, everything is different.

        Put my indignant outrage on hold… ;)

      7. Getting Downtown from the Burke Gilman, I would recommend taking Eastlake to Roanoke then heading down to Fairview. That only puts you on Eastlake for a few blocks south of the bike lanes, and is a great way to get Downtown, much better than going up and over Capitol Hill, which I think is what you’re describing. I think few enough people take that route to Downtown that it’s okay to have them ride on the western Montlake Blvd sidewalk for those three or four blocks through the interchange area.

      8. Thanks. I just don’t like Eastlake. I took it for years, and it is a anxious experience. I’d rather climb the Lynn hill, since I need to get up to Melrose and Olive anyway. Beautiful views and much more relaxing, with bike lanes and low-volume traffic.

        I understand most people ride Eastlake. It just doesn’t take me where I want to go, and it’s not fun.

  3. [reference to old version of post]
    Page 4 of the presentation shows the southbound HOV/transit designation ending at Shelby Street because the right (leftmost in the diagram) serves general purpose traffic entering onto westbouhd and eastbound 520. Routes 43, 48, and 25 will have to weave through the general purpose traffic headed for 520.

    Additionally, there is no convenient stop for people transferring from westbound 520 to southbound routes 43, 48, or 25.

  4. I would like to see the working group look at transit mobility from the corner of NE 15th and 45th Ave NE all the way to where Mountlke turns into 23rd Ave. They have such a limited scope that you end up with a lot of weird merging movements, from the far left to far right and vice versa.

    This corridor probably has the most bus traffic anywhere outside of downtown and should be treated with more care than it is. It will have BRT to the Eastside as well as probably on NE 45th and 23rd Ave, and has many UW commuter routes that need to quickly get to freeways.

    This is how we should look at buses ROW in this corridor. First ask yourself, how would I build an at grade light rail line along this corridor? Then after you figure that out build it without the rails. That is how you build quality bus service. If that means center running the whole corridor then do that.

    Metro need to demand this because this is their last chance to improve bus mobility through this corridor for many years to come.

    1. I almost completely agree. The one issue comes down to a fundamental difference between buses and light rail. You can’t load from the left side on a bus. So if we have center running service, how do we load passengers? Fat islands? Have buses run the wrong way, crossing back at each end of the run?

      1. You build the platforms just like they did for link in the valley. Of course you need more room but that is just a fact of building higher quality transit.

      2. agreed–but fighting wealthy, entitled Montlake neighbors for ROW is a big task. I think we need to make tough decisions about space for transit instead of cars in the existing footprint.

      3. Why is this so tough and why fight about it? UW has been successful in increasing employment while decreasing the number of trips to campus for over a decade. Link is coming on line at the same time as the new bridge which had better darn well reduce the number of vehicles that need to squeeze through the Montlake corridor substantially. It seems silly to bulldoze through new ROW when there is every reason to believe the number of vehicles required will continue to shrink. Maybe the State is worried about decreasing gas tax revenue and wants to create an incentive to drive more?

      4. You can do this within the existing footprint. The largest impact would probably be on Pacific Ave where the Burke and medical center (and associated ped bridges) limit cheap expansion of the road.

      5. You might be able to add one lane to Pacific Street without major side effects. The Health Sciences building is set back about ten feet from the sidewalk, so moving the sidewalk to be directly adjacent to the building could give enough room for one more lane, preferably an extension of the east-bound HOV lane out to 15th.

      6. By “fighting wealthy, entitled Montlake neighbors for ROW” I understand you mean “bulldozing people’s houses to build a road” – am I right?

        Really, I’m not so troubled by people feeling “entitled” to keep living in their homes.

      7. the Burke and medical center (and associated ped bridges) limit cheap expansion of the road.

        I’d like to think somebody was thinking ahead but failing that; better lucky than good!

    2. How would at-grade light rail be built? On a high bridge, with the at-grade station a few feet away from the elevator to the tunnel station.

      All the buses that go by UW Station need to have a stop as close as possible to the elevators.

      Just look at how Mount Baker Transfer Center was built on the other side of MLK from the station. That is an example of how *not* to connect buses to rail. I still think the lower plaza should be opened up for a couple bus lanes, and then surplus the transit center to private developers.

      Then look at Tukwila International Boulevard Station. That is more the model that should be used for the buses stopping at UW Station. Sure, they’ll have to pull off of Pacific Ave. But a huge portion of every bus’s passenger load will be loading or unloading at the station.

      1. Perhaps UW could divert its city parking taxes to building this transfer center in place of the parking. (or better yet, to help build the transit high bridge)

    3. “I would like to see the working group look at transit mobility from the corner of NE 15th and 45th Ave NE all the way to where Mountlke turns into 23rd Ave. ”

      From Montlake to Madison. That’s the entire span the 48 shares with the 43, and where the 8 crosses. One improvement would be to make the 48 high-frequency/RapidRide on this whole span (perhaps extending from NE 65th St to Mt Baker station). Put a transfer station at 23rd & John and truncate the 43 there. The 8 could also be truncated unless its MLK segment is vital. (It’s close to 23rd but the hills are steep, and east of 23rd has abysmal bus service so I’m not inclined to cut in that area.)

      1. Sheesh. We just finally got all-day and weekend service on the 8, and you’re thinking about truncating it?

        23rd/John is pretty cramped already; where would you envision a transfer station and how would the routes overlap?

  5. For what it’s worth, HOV lanes along Montlake Blvd have been part of SDOT wishlist since at least 2002:
    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/university_actionstrategy.htm

    The buses all use Pacific because of Montlake Blvd is so bad all the way up to U-Village. It’s project #15 here:
    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/uatas/UATAS_ProjectSheets_11-21_small.pdf

    “Montlake Blvd (a state roadway) is highly congested; the average speed for southbound vehicles during the PM peak period is 3 miles per hour. Due to traffic congestion, King County Metro cannot provide adequate transit service. Poor transit access to the University’s Intramural Activities Building and the University Village was one of the most common complaints during the UATAS outreach process.”

    1. Other than the pedestrian bridge at the gym, I don’t see any good reason you couldn’t add an HOV lane to southbound Montlake Blvd. Perhaps replace the bridge with and north-curving extension to the Link bridge?

    2. I was thinking, they should look at a streetcar route up the western edge of the Husky Stadium parking lots/overflow lots going all the way up from UW Station to 45th, then up the middle of 25th past U Village, turning left onto 65th through Ravenna and Roosevelt, then finally going up Ravenna Blvd to Green Lake. This would provide great transit service between major destinations, densifying neighborhoods, and Link stations.

    3. HOV lanes on Montlake from NE 45th to the Montlake Cut are essential. After University Link opens, Metro 68, 65 and 75 should travel south along this lane and terminate at the Husky Stadium Link Station, instead of traveling up through campus.

      Combined transit freqencies along this section of Montlake would be at least 10 minutes, providing reliable service from Link to University Village. Downtown and eastside commuters from NE Seattle would have a speedy and reliable transfer to Link and/or eastside 520 buses.

      1. Your plan isn’t as easy as it sounds, since the 68 and 65 are usually through-routed with the 31 and 67 respectively.

  6. Martin, this may be your point, but I’m not sure a stop on the same side of the street would be any more convenient than the existing bus stops due to the station being located north of Pacific St.

    The current bus stops are on Pacific St a little east of Pacific Pl, and it doesn’t look any farther away from the station than a stop on Montlake Blvd south of Pacific St would be.

  7. Buses coming off the HOV exit at Montlake will first face a traffic signal where GP traffic headed toward Lake Washington Blvd, the Aboretum and maybe 24th Ave southbound will make a left turn across the HOV ramp, before the bus even gets to the Montlake stop (and the inverse headed eastbound.) There will be a second traffic light past the stop before the bus can turn right. With all the traffic here, it is unlikely that the stops will be signaled for transit priority.

    For all the politician talk about how 520 will be a BRT route, neither has the pathway toward the U-District been engineered for smooth, reliable transit operation, nor has the existing Montlake Flyer Freeway station, an existing facility, been maintained.

    1. Transit priority on Montlake is not unprecedented though its full potential has not been realized. There are currently two queue jump signals for transit on Montlake. There is the one southbound from Pacific St to Montlake Blvd coupled with a 3+ HOV/transit lane. There is one northbound at Shelby St before the bridge.

  8. Martin: I haven’t been tracking on this closely, but wonder what bus stops E and F are for? They’re just east of the rail station. Logically they would be for east side routes terminating and orininating at the Link Station, but without a traffic flow map, it’s hard to tell. If that’s the case, they would need a lot of layover space for all the truncated routes, and future BRT service.
    Any insight?

  9. Why is the northbound HOV lane on the inside of Montlake Blvd? Wouldn’t it be much smoother for buses to already be on the outside, where they can either pull over alongside UW Station, or turn right into it?

    Please don’t make the buses have to cross two general-purpose Montlake Mess traffic lanes to get to the station. Every minute of travel time for those buses will make a difference between whether we end up with cost-effective, frequent service from all over the north eastside to UW Station, or an expensive, twice-the-headway destination-splitting from the eastside to both UW Station and downtown.

    1. Their rationale is it’s for buses turning onto NE Pacific St. All the current bus routes, except 243, from Montlake turn on to Pacific St.

      One problem with the NB HOV lane is it ends right after the bridge, leaving buses to join the queue turning on to Pacific St. It’s also odd that they are keeping the Shelby St bus stop before the bridge. The only buses that use that stop come from the Eastside which will be moved to the right away from it. Shelby also has a queue jump signal to give Eastside buses an easier merge and first chance at the Pacific St left turn lanes.

      1. I think the only thing would work for buses headed north on Pacific and stopping at the Link station would be to have an outside NB HOV lane, end right at the triangle intersection, and have a queue jump signal there to allow buses make the wide turn onto Pacific. It adds to the cycle, but would be the most rational idea for transit.

  10. Ocham’s Razor: Just build the transit high bridge, and forget about the second bascule bridge. If it takes a city bond issue, so be it.

    1. People in love with the idea of a new high level bridge over Union Bay would have been solidly in the camp of the R.H. Thompson Freeway. Amazing how WSDOT is able to sell the idea that a real bridge across Lake Washington is a non-starter because nobody would put up with a roadway that re-open the lake (it would be an eyesore on par with the Golden Gate) but a concrete column bridge with 70′ of mast clearance cutting across Union Bay dumping yet more traffic into the triangle could somehow be a good idea.

      1. Um, no, I would not be a fan of the RH Thompson Expressway. I only want to see the high bridge because it would be for transit, and for transit only (plus pedestrian and bike space).

      2. Just for the record, are you being sarcastic about the Golden Gate bridge being an eyesore? It’s quite possibly one of the most iconic structures in America…

  11. Its a difficult area to serve adiquately, Ideally, you’d have a large bus layover and transfer station at the link station, with routes redesigned to origonate/terminate or pass through there. in lieu of that, having the HOV in the curb lane with special right hand side left turn pockets to allow buses to serve the link station in the NB direction with a protected movement would probally be desirable. than all buses have to do is use NE Pacific Pl to montlake where they make the inline stop and carry on would be the best option (unless they were terminating at the station).

    As for montlake, i’d probally have the NB and SB stops on the lid, with approprate amenites, and signage for connections to the highway SR520 services.

  12. I like the idea of replacing parking with a bus center at the LINK station. But I’m especially curious about this:

    UW Stadium seems to be especially badly located for the north terminal of the University LINK line, even temporarily. What about all the passengers coming in from the north on the 71-2-3, and the 372?

    It seems like they’ll either have to walk across campus, or face a bus ride through really bad traffic just to get to the trains.

    Any talk of bus lanes on 15th Avenue NE and on Campus Parkway down to the LINK station?

    And what happened to the idea of the foot bridge from the Triangle across Montlake Blvd. to the station? If given an attractive park treatment, it wouldn’t be a bad walk.

    As it now stands, I agree: back to the drawing board. How do we start applying serious political pressure on the drafters?

    Mark Dublin

    1. they’ll either have to walk across campus,

      Man, faced with that I’d have just thrown in the towel and never have graduated. Walk across campass… oh wait, I had to run to make classes with a 10 minute interval.

      As it now stands, I agree: back to the drawing board.

      How about back to the future; a flyer stop at Montlake. Let’s start from first principles. Congestion is horrific at the Montlake Triangle. Answer; more people and less cars. Convert one of the existing lanes to transit HOV 3+. But that will make it harder to get there in an SOV! I’d like to say YES! but actually the answer is no. It won’t change that at all. In fact it might actually make it better as public transit is vastly improved and with tolling set to take place there will be more room for those that choose to drive.

      Amazing that most people on this blog are anti highway but still seem to think we need more lanes and an entirely new bridge to flood the UW campus with more vehicles. Worse are the ones that what to create more ramps to nowhere. Jeeze, even back in the dark ages the Seattle community was able to stop that abomination.

      1. Bernie, I don’t know whose opinion you are describing above, but it certainly isn’t my opinion you are describing. I’m pro-sink-the-bridge, given my druthers.

        I don’t remember seeing anyone here call for additional lanes on 520.

        Nor do I remember seeing anyone on this blog call for a new automobile bridge, just a transit one.

        Are we reading the same blog?

      2. Reading the same blog. 4-6 lanes on 520. Seriously there are no HOV lanes without a minimum six lane bridge. A transit only bridge is a fantasy. Metro or ST can finance such bridge? Of course not. Personally I’d be all for turning the 520 bridge into a new artificial reef. Might drive my property value down. Oh well, lower taxes; I’m not moving. It might actually raise them since I wouldn’t have as much traffic noise. OK, less traffic I’m willing to pay more taxes for that. The current plan, more cut-through traffic, plus longer commutes which perversely raise my taxes because I’m closer to the cluster F*ck.

      3. There was once a guest post by someone from WSDOT talking glowingly about adding HOV lanes. There have been a few people who drive across 520 who commented here. But most of the commentors, while being pro-HOV or pro-transit-lane, have not explicitly said they wanted more lanes added. For that matter, I don’t think too many have suggested to keep at four lanes but convert two to HOV, to be fair.

        But I really find it more useful to debate about ideas than to debate about motivations. The motivations you ascribed to others struck me as off-base, but, more to the point, did not advance the dialogue.

        “Don’t attack people. Attack ideas. And don’t just attack ideas. Attack ideas with better ideas.” — Jim West, For State Senate Majority Leader and Mayor of Spokane

      4. Let me know how you what to finance keeping it “at four lanes but convert two to HOV” and we’ll talk. I find it more more useful to debate legitimate financing than motivation.

      5. Who said anything about more lanes for more vehicles? It’s about trying to make the WSDOT’s junk proposals work, no matter how bad they are.

        Amazing to me is how much you enjoy trying to pick fights on every thread.

      6. The current Montlake Bridge isn’t being torn down or reduced from it’s current four lanes in any of the proposals. Adding another bridge, of any kind across the Montlake cut is adding more lanes. The current junk proposals are exactly that, junk. Start with what we’ve got; four lanes across the cut and a flyer stop at Montlake. Then figure out how to make that work. It’s probably the only affordable option for at least ten years. If people have a few years to experience more people and fewer vehicles moving through the area they might just decide we don’t need to widen Montlake Blvd or build another bridge across the Cut.

      7. Oops, they are reducing the current bridge from four to three lanes but then adding three to the new bridge. Net increase is +2 lanes. Once built, there will then be pressure to restripe back to four lanes and match the proposed Hamlin cross section.

      8. Great, but tell that to WSDOT, because I don’t think too many of us here like the addition of the second bascule bridge.

      9. I’ve made comments to WSDOT. Usually you get back a nice letter that paraphrases exactly what’s on their website. In the end WSDOT isn’t a policy making organization. They’ll build whatever the State tells them to. About the best thing I can say about the second bascule bridge is that it’s better than a high span across Union Bay. The real key to the west side is what the City of Seattle and UW want to push through. I’m pretty sure UW will block any expansion of Montlake Blvd in front of Hec Ed and I don’t think they’ll go for any more lanes on Pacific either. So, there sits the capacity limiter. Until there are fewer cars nobody’s going anywhere.

    2. Isn’t it just a matter of time before the whole length of 25th Ave NE (at least the portion not controlled by WSDOT) has bus lanes? Getting to the station from 25th and from Sandpoint should be straightforward.

      A corollary question is whether there will be inner-campus buses, since the inner loop doesn’t connect too well with the station. Brooklyn Station will partially solve the problem, but we’re facing four years between the station openings, right?

      That streetcar proposed for Pacific might be more useful if deployed on the loop.

      1. Yeah it’ll be four years of awkwardness for buses in the area, I think they’ll have to for the most part keep the 71/72/73 heading Downtown. But that’s a short period of time of inconvenience in exchange for an excellent transit system that could last hundreds of years.

  13. So at first I was like “this isn’t too bad, i’ll just not be the best experience for people on busses going through the area.”

    And then I remembered what it’s like to drive through there, and realized this is going to be almost as bad as it is now… when it has no reason to be!!

    I think instead of trying to put HOV lanes in the middle of the road, they should use the second bridge for a dedicated busway that connects transit directly from 520 to the link station.

    I’ve made a diagram of what i’m thinking:
    http://iscs.us/montlake.pdf

    We need a direct connection to the link station, or otherwise bus riders will be stuck in traffic longer then it would just take the bus to get to downtown.

    1. Amen to this idea! Then, those trying to get closer to the middle of campus can catch any of the buses rapidly passing by the station, heading north, to mid-campus or the bridge to the medical center. With jumping on the bus to get across Montlake instead of taking one of the long pedestrian briges, this plan gives new meaning to the phrase “bus bridge”.

      If we are to influence anyone, we first have to unite behind an architectural plan.

      1. Wow, I’m out of touch. Back in the early 80’s nothing was “rapidly passing by the station”. The area was totally gridlocked. Good to know it’s all flowing freely now, other than that anomaly where Woodinville HS was graduating and walking from 520 was at least 20 minutes faster than driving or staying on a bus.

  14. Anyone notice the double standard here? Surrey Downs residents who complain about traffic and noise, are spoiled, self-centered NIMBYS, but when people in Montlake whine and cry about more noise and traffic, they are “concerned about their community.”

    1. They’re NIMBYs because they don’t want light rail, something new. They already have the roads, noise, and traffic and have dealt with all of it since they moved in.

  15. How does this compare to the current situation for the 43, 48, and 271? You say it’ll be bad but it’s already bad. So will it be worse, the same, or slightly better?

  16. Make the Montlake interchange HOV and transit only. That will provide better transit access to UW Station, allow the flyer stops (or something similar) to be kept and cut down on the number of vehicles trying to use Montlake Blvd.

    1. I noticed that there is now an outside HOV lane leading to the ferry at Kingston. Most of it is I think the old shoulder which is used for overflow ferry parking but it goes all the way back past the light at Four Corners. What caught my eye is that it’s HOV peak hours only. On 405 we’ve had HOV 7AM to 7PM and open for GP overnight. This was the first time I’ve seen HOV lanes signed as open for GP during the day. I wonder if that could be made to work with HOV “only” at Montlake. Someone that can shift their hours slightly would be able to say start work at 6:30am and leave at 3PM thereby avoiding the HOV restriction. Of course some people probably already use this strategy to avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic so maybe it wouldn’t have much of an effect on evening out demand but at least it wouldn’t penalize the people currently using this strategy and perhaps gain a little more support. It would be a cheap experiment to give this a try with the current configuration; ideally with the addition of the promised extra transit during peak.

  17. Here’s the progression:

    1. No rail transit for the 520 bridge – it’s a BRT (bus rapid transit) corridor

    2. Not enough room for the Montlake Flyer station (we need all the expanded width for other ramps and current highway standards) but we’ll provide alternate transit

    3. We’re over budget so we can’t provide any operating funds, but we’ll provide some capital to buy bueses

    4. It’s really hard to fit transit on the Montlake bridge, and it doesn’t work very well on Pacific St, so we have a few kludges. Don’t mind the new traffic lights on the ramps.

    Net result – no rail, no Montlake Flyer station, no operating funds, increased operating costs, no easy tranfer to Link, and no prioirty transit flow for either 520 exiting buses, or 43/48 buses. Total loss for transit service. (But we’ll continue to sugarcoat it in all brochures and presentations as a bus transit route.)

    The 520 Montlake design is unacceptable from a transit perspective.

  18. Northbound:

    Move HOV/transit lanes to the outside.

    Use stop D. Use new signals at Montlake x Pacific Pl to stop the GP lanes and allow buses to turn left from the outside transit lane, going the “long way” around the triangle.

    1. Southbound:

      Transit lane as planned, disappears after the bridge. Buses weave to left to avoid GP backups.

      Use stop H.

  19. Is there any way we could get someone from WSDOT to do a guest post explaining their reasoning for the inside HOV lanes on Montlake? The reasons stated here don’t make any sense once U-Link opens.

    If someone from WSDOT hears us all in unison saying the buses all have to stop at UW Station, maybe they’ll start thinking a little harder on how traffic flow will work for transit.

    Giving that two bascule bridges don’t make access over the cut any faster than one bascule bridge, can’t we just save the money and restripe the outer lanes for HOVs, and for transit/bikes only during peak hours?

    It’s also not too late to implement the suggestion for solving the hollow-column problem, to wit, pour concrete into the middle of them! Are there engineers here who can vouch for the feasibility of this much cheaper solution? Was there any reason other than the hollow columns to completely rebuild 520 west of Montlake?

    Also, WSDOT could, if it really wanted to, change the current outer lanes on 520 to be HOV only, immediately. That would solve a lot of short-term congestion on the bridge.

  20. As I understand the history of Sound Transit’s system development, University of Washington has consistently taken the position that it does not want the station area vicinity near the Stadium and Hospital to be a major transfer point for passengers moving between buses and light rail in either direction, nor for bus-to-bus transfers.

    1. Yes, but the current Montlake Flyer stop is a major transfer point that is being removed. The argument being made for removing it is that all those transfers will happen near the new light rail station.

      Can’t have it both ways. Eliminate the flyer stops, and the station area becomes a transfer point. Either WSDOT or UW is going to lose here.

      Or they both win, and transit riders lose.

  21. Where’s the light-rail crossing the bridge? This city is so desperate for rail, yet they turned down a perfectly good oppurtunity to add more rail. I moved to Seattle a few years ago, and I am very displeased with Seattle’s lack of rail and inconvenient buses.

    I vision a line from Ballard to Issaquah via the 520 bridge and intersecting the Central Link at UW-Station. This line could also split when it’s crossed the bridge to vere north towards Kirkland, Juanita and Bothell.

  22. Losing the montlake flyer stops is a huge loss. We should be creating more freeway stops, not fewer. We should be branding major freeway service that we already have, adding key, fast stops that connect to frequent local service. Imagine if there was freeway access for the 545 at south overlake near 24th, and at 108th in kirkland, and connected to frequent local service at each stop. Suddenly the route network can serve so many markets.

    I cant help but think that the 542 is a waste. Rather than doubling up the frequency of the 545, it adds another route that duplicaates existing connections. It nearly eplicates the 48/ 545 connection that already exists (15 minute high frequency route with the 48, connecting to a high frequency 545. Its a transfer that works). If you took 1/2 the money going to the 542 and poured it into route 48 improvements, increasing frequency, reliability, and did some stop consolodation, you now have an amazing improvement to the network that serves Capitol Hill –> UW, Capitol Hill –> Redmond, Downtown Seattle –> Redmond, *AND* UW –> Redmond.

    The 542 on the other hand is single serving transit. The only major improvement is a one seat ride to the UW, and to light rail which I suppose is useful, but not compared to a major 48/545 backbone. And it does not create any improvement on any of the connections I listed above.

    It could have been possible to use the 542 money to increase both the 545 and the 48, serving the 520 corridor AND seattle’s high frequency network. Total missed opportunity Seattle. Totally a missed opportunity.

    1. But once UW Station opens, why would there be a 545 route going downtown at all, when it should be faster to catch U-Link from UW Station? (6 minutes from UW to Westlake)

      If we do still have routes going downtown on 520 at that point, then why did we bother building U-Link?

      1. U-Link is DT to UW and then the Seattle market up to Northgate at some future date. 520 serves the eastside; different market. It’s 15 minutes for me to get a bus from S. Kirkland to DT Seattle. They’re pretty reliable on the times I use it. But in the transfer and you double the time once you have to allow for being there ahead of time.

        An argument has been made that DT Seattle capacity is at it’s limit. But UW Link doesn’t even come close to absorbing the volume of extra buses that would occur if all 520 routes were divert to U-Link. UW isn’t going to put up with the “campus” becoming the transfer point equivalent to the Downtown Seattle Bus Tunnel. And then there’s the issue of spending billions to force a transfer that accomplishes nothing more than what we already have.

        Another factor I haven’t really seen discussed is where else might eastside routes go besides DT Seattle. Currently only a few go north on I-5 (about the same number as are currently able to muddle through the Montlake Mess). As SLU grows and Seattle “Center” has always been neglected what if we reroute a lot of the eastside service to “destinations” rather than DT Seattle? That would be one less transfer. The everything terminates at UW don’t need no stinking flyer stop precludes this. It makes it worse. Instead of having the current paradigm of all eastside riders go DT Seattle and then get on a bus to where they might really be going it means go to UW… transfer… go DT… transfer. Not seeing this as an improvement that will make transit work.

      2. Suit yourself, Bernie. The headway to downtown will just be annoyingly long.

        Thinking of Link as a second seat misses the point of high-frequency rail (or BRT, for that matter). If two half-hour waits were involved, that would be intolerable. But with the UW connection, you have the wait on the eastside (shorter, if most of the lines go to UW), and a very short wait for the transfer.

        Sure, with the 1-seat ride, you just have one long wait (due to destination splitting).

        15 minutes from South Kirkland to downtown Seattle? when it takes 10 minutes just to get to Montlake? Really. I’d expect Norman to offer time projections like that.

        The concept of Link as a spine means there will be 3-seat rides, but the total wait+travel time should decrease. If we aren’t up for some 3-seat rides, we shouldn’t have voted for Link.

      3. Yes, if you perfectly time your transfer you can break even (what a winner) but if you miss it’s 10 minutes longer (give or take depending on time of day. Since you don’t know you have to assume the worst if you have a specific time you’re trying to get somewhere. In other words you always lose the max; it just depends on if you’re waiting for your transfer or arriving earlier at your destination than required. And that’s going in to DT. Coming home late frequency on the 255 drops to 30-60 minutes. You don’t want to miss that bus so instead of being at your one stop ride five minutes early you have to plan to be at UW 20 minutes early to assure that if you miss your late night link connection you still get your bus. So including wait time your one hour one seat ride turns in to almost an hour and a half, maximizes your fare and is less reliable. Yes, more things can go wrong. The bus is just as unreliable as it was and you have ADD the additional uncertainty. For commuters it’s not horrid; except for that getting up 10 minutes earlier every day and then running in the rain to catch a standing room only train. For choice riders looking at an alternative to driving, not so good. The transit share for that group from the eastside isn’t very good now. It can only get worse. There’s no magic about riding the train when you have to take a bus to get there.

      4. In fact, my math based on the 255 schedule shows it would take about 23 minutes to take a bus from South Kirkland to UW Station, transfer, catch U-Link, and be at University Street Station — same as the amount of time the schedule says it takes the 255 to get there. Throw in the headway differential, and your 1-seat ride is left in the dust.

        Given that math, don’t expect Metro to pay for that 1-seat route, given all the other places it could be spending the money.

      5. It could save Metro 25% on operating cost for the 255 if it really only takes 5 minutes to turn around at Montlake. Then the question becomes will they maintain the same amount of fare revenue with the forced transfer? I really doubt Metro will use the hours saved to increase frequency on the 255, especially off peak where half full is doing well already. The amount I’m paying in sales tax isn’t going to go down. In fact I’m paying more to support Link. So, one agency is saving money by providing less service but the public is paying more… quite a bit more. Theoretically the eastside isn’t paying a dime for it (so far). So, I guess my only gripe is that our bus service gets worse just so Link can boost it’s ridership numbers. Now, if Metro had subarea equity and we could decrease the percentage sales tax charged outside Seattle by the amount of Metro’s savings I’d be more supportive.

      6. Metro doesn’t necessarily need to add new service if the eastside lines are combining to go UW Station. The combination of the lines already will provide very low headway (starting in 2016, unless someone wins a campaign to send a bunch of duplicate-head buses downtown, like Norman’s campaign to save the 194). How does much lower headway not count as improved service?

        Enjoy your half-hour wait for your 1-seat ride, since you seem to consider that better service.

      7. You don’t seem to comprehend that it’s the same wait whether that one seat ride goes to UW or to DT. It’s the added transfer which makes for the “better” service. Same thing on the return but the transfer from relatively high frequency Link to low frequency bus is even worse. The “combination of the lines already will provide very low headway” but not to where I’m going. If South Kirkland P&R were a flyer stop you’d have a point. But they’re not going to divert buses from 520 to serve S. Kirkland because it would be an expensive waste of time for everyone not using that destination.

      8. Bernie, check out the videos on the eastern portion of 520. All the current major pullover stops will become in-freeway flyer stops. South Kirkland will get served.

        On the return trip, why would you not expect there to be a bus heading east from UW Station every 7.5 minutes during peak hour? Unless, of course, you succeed in ruining the commute of eastside-UW commuters by having the buses come from downtown instead.

        The in-freeway stop ain’t happening. And even if it did, commuters coming from campus would take a much longer time to get to the 520 freeway stop under your plan than if they had the low headway resulting from single-westside-destination.

      9. Brent, I’ve followed this pretty closely but I went back and reviewed it. HOV direct access ramps are being added at 108th only in the Seattle direction. Center HOV is an improvement over the current “driving on the shoulder” but the access will only replace what is currently there with the shoulder HOV lanes (new access required because of the shift to the center). Through buses won’t server S. Kirkland; it would add at least five minutes to their schedule trying to get back on 520 eastbound. Bidirectional access would be expensive and a traffic disaster because of the proximity to the I-405 interchange (weaving). That said, I think (and yes this is probably personal prejudice) the 545 should stop at S. Kirkland after the headway on the 255 goes to 1 hour (or maybe 1/2 hour). Then terminate the 255 at S. Kirkland and use the hours to create 1/2 hour or better service on the portion of the 255 north of S. Kirkland. That could be a win win.

        The only freeway access points in the WSDOT plan are Yarrow Point and Evergreen Point. Both are trivial compared to the Montlake Flyer stop being lost. The big buck items are freeway lid parks for Medina, Hunts Pt. and Clyde Hill. No surprise that’s where our legislators live. In the video you might be confused to think that access is both directions because the video reverses direction at 108th but HOV/Transit only leaves 520 eastbound and only has direct access westbound. S. Kirkland, like S. Bellevue is a, “missed it by this much Chief”. Sadly, the current plans are to add to this crop of “could have been a contenda'” with a 130th P&R that again misses the mark. Really sad considering the buses on 520 would be able to serve DT Seattle and UW in half the time the train taking the scenic route through Bellevue, M.I., SODO…

  23. Now that the state and the MoHaI have reached a deal for the sale of the MoHaI’s land, is it a little more feasible for the transit high bridge to be built across there?

    1. It would cost a fortune and destroy the beauty of Union Bay. Washington could use a jobs program. I wrote my legislator suggesting we accelerate the removal of the ramps to nowhere in the Arboretum (gee, it’s only been what, 50 years that these bridges to nowhere have been there?). No money was the answer, yet there’s plenty of money to start building pontoons for the “safer” bridge which is yet unfunded to the tune of $2 billion dollars (yes, the part that sinks is penciled in but if it doesn’t connect on the west side the project is not really fund). Color me skeptical about the WSDOT “restoration of Yarrow Creek” tacked on to the plans. Looking a whole lot like Bellevue’s BS of “creek restoration” in Bel-Red that’s only being funded as a new and wider roads project (oh, but we’ll stripe the gutter of these new four lane arterials as a bike lane so it’s “multi-modal”). How can anyone familiar with the Montlake area think a new major traffic interchange on the north side of the Montlake Cut is a good idea. Isn’t the blight on the south side bad enough already?

  24. I had the privilege of driving from Bellevue across the Montlake Cut this evening. Learned a lot. #1, although the HOV on 520 is 3+, the ramps are 2+! Damn, that would have saved 20 minutes. #2, there is a perfectly good sidewalk already on the west side of the Montlake Bridge. In decades of walking, biking and driving I’ve never really noticed that because it doesn’t get used. In the “do over” plans it looks like they are going to mothball the current “sidewalk” that virturally all bikes and peds try to cram through and they show a couple blissfully walking on the currently unused west side. There’s got to be a better plan that uses our current resources.

  25. Wow, where are the kudos to the State for listening to the public? A great lid over the highway, direct access for buses, bus lanes on Montlake, signal priority, a bus lane on the highway in both directions, huge excellent quiet transfer locations on the eastside, direct access on the eastside, and moving the bus lane to the center. Having a bus lane over Portage Bay bridge will sure make the morning eastbound trip much faster. No more sitting in congestion.

    I read through this information and must say that the State has done a great job listening to the people and updating their project to accommodate as much as possible for transit, pedestrians, and the safety for all travelers. I think that the transit agencies need to step up to the plate and explain what they have planned and how they have ensured their plan is compatible with the 520 project. If they don’t plan to run buses directly to the Sound Transit station, then say so. If the transfer between buses and rail is not the major demand, then tell us that. Not all the people will get a perfect transfer. IMO there doesn’t need to be a single station over the light rail. I can’t imagine that people will want to transfer off of a SR 520 bus to go downtown when the SR 520 bus service will take them directly to downtown. Or they could take East Link Light rail. I think people just want to get to the UW.

    Would the transit agencies need to figure out how to get some more bus service to the UW area because the flyerstop is gone? Maybe. Does there need to be a BRT service to the UW all day? Not likely.

    I think we need to keep things in perspective. The State is trying to improve the SR 520 corridor for safety and mobility. They are trying to improve the connectivity to the local streets as is warranted by their project. They should not be requested nor required to rebuild all of Montlake, perform transit planning, or fix the City of Seattle’s transportation issues. Transit agencies should be doing the planning and then working with the State to figure out how to make it work.

    Oh yeah, I love the bike ped plan that includes a full path across the lake that ties into the Seattle system and then has a wide path over the drawbridge (scary today). They even have a ped bridge over Montlake that ties into the Burk. Great layout!

    1. Lola,

      For all the spending that WSDOT is committing to this project, it appears that many people’s transit commutes will actually be worse. If you’re headed to UW, you’re currently able to take any of the many downtown-bound buses and transfer at the Flyer Stop to any of the many buses on Montlake Blvd. You dismiss BRT to the UW — the second largest transit market in the State — as not likely to be necessary. But the current plan is worse than the status quo.

      The only way to make the UW commute work is to shift downtown-bound resources to the UW, and provide a seamless transfer to University Link for those headed downtown so that their trip isn’t degraded.

      If there’s something the transit agencies should be doing to “work with the State,” but aren’t, please be specific. My impression is that they’ve been there through the entire process.

    2. Thanks for your input, Lola.

      I’m worried that, yes, most of the 520 buses will end up continuing to go downtown, to within a block of the DSTT, even after U-Link opens.

      Metro’s failure to embrace Central Link as a way to funnel more south King County riders into downtown, save substantial service hours, and provide more frequent 2-way neighborhood service suggests that Metro isn’t interested in helping the transformation to a spine-based transit system work. (They’ve even rebuffed repeated requests from my neighborhood association to shorten a route to serve Tukwila International Boulevard Station.)

      If Link becomes a white elephant, Metro is partially to blame. But really, it comes down to whether people realized that when they were voting for Link, they were voting for a spine-based system in which lots of bus routes would feed into that spine well outside of downtown. They may not have realized that was what they were voting for.

      With all the 520 buses going to UW Station, you’d get more frequent service across 520, and a faster ride downtown, if you accept the notion of a quick transfer to U-Link, with the northbound HOV lane on Montlake on the outside, so it doesn’t have to cross any general-purpose traffic until the bus crosses to Pacific, and you don’t have to cross a busy arterial to get to the station.

      With duplicative service to downtown, you’d get less frequency, longer travel time, stuck in gridlock more often, and … probably higher fares to pay for the premium bus service.

      Moreover, if suburban riders don’t embrace the idea of transferring to Link on the way downtown, Sound Transit may be forced to scrap Link altogether. We either embrace the spine-based transit system, or decide now to keep with a spoke-based system and save $14 billion+ dollars.

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