Starting as early as next week and going until June, Metro and SDOT will be installing new bus only lanes in two north downtown corridors. The first project will install a 24/7 bus only lane on several blocks of the Battery St/Wall St couplet between 3rd Ave and Aurora Ave N. This project also includes a queue jump at the intersection of 5th and Wall, to help buses entering downtown merge to the far left lane to turn southbound onto 3rd. These improvements will be used by the 5, 26, 28, and 358, which combined carried ~25K riders a day in 2009.
More after the jump.
The second project is a new peak period (3-7PM) transit only lane on Howell St from 8th Ave to Yale Ave. This transit only lane will be in the right center lane of Howell St. The problem with Howell St is general purpose traffic trying to get onto I-5 southbound at Yale Ave. The signal at this onramp creates long queues on both Howell St and Denny Way, trapping buses heading to the I-5 express lanes or Eastlake Ave. Approximately 60 buses an hour operate on Howell during the PM peak, carrying over 1,200 passengers an hour. Enforcement at this location will likely be important and the intersection of Howell St and 9th Ave may continue to be an issue since buses and I-5 bound cars still must weave at this intersection.
Both of these projects are low hanging fruit and frankly should have been done years ago. It’s good these projects are finally getting attention and it would be nice to hear from riders than will be affected by these changes.