Everybody remember the recently-completed repaving of 85th St, which screwed up the 48 schedule for much of last year? Well, because that was so much fun, we’re gonna do it all again! Starting this spring, using money from the Bridging the Gap initiative, SDOT is going to repave Northgate Way/105th St from Meridian to Greenwood; construction will continue for about a year. As Northgate/105th is the only arterial in this part of the city, no viable alternative route exists, so inbound Route 40 trips will take a substantial and unavoidable hit to reliability that will be felt by riders throughout the route. Riders to or from Northgate or North Seattle Community College will be impacted even more.
There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel for transit. According to SDOT’s Bill Bryant, all the intersections between Greenwood and Meridian are being considered for Transit Signal Priority, which will (I suspect) likely be of the “hold or advance green” variety. While Northgate/105th isn’t a particularly pedestrian-friendly street — it’s fast and wide without many signals — those same qualities, coupled with the lack of street parking, and the addition of TSP, could make it a very fast and reliable pathway for surface transit.
More after the jump.
All of SDOT’s recent paving projects (e.g. 85th St, Airport Way) have provided minor, but valuable upgrades to the pedestrian environment and transit facilities, like better shelters, lighting, new or repaired sidewalks, and ADA-accessible curb ramps. The Northgate/105th project will do the same, crucially providing high-quality sidewalks throughout; and while the list of transit facilities improvements has not been finalized, some of the current stops on 105th are nothing more than a post on a shoddy tarmac sidewalk, so almost any improvements whatsoever are likely to be quite major for riders.
My only concern is that one pair of bus stops, at Stone Way, is much too close to another set of stops at Aurora, as can be seen on the map at right. These stops should be relocated a block or two to the east, to provide better spacing and coverage in this area; a repaving and facilities improvement project is the obvious time to do this. Again, per Bill Bryant, SDOT and Metro are examining this.
As an example of what happens when stop spacing issues fall through the cracks, consider an example from the Airport Way repaving project, shown in the map at right. The stops here are all over the place, with some bunched less than 500′ apart, and others more than a quarter of a mile apart. SDOT’s contractor constructed concrete bus pads in the roadway for these stops, so they are now basically fixed in this head-scratching arrangement indefinitely.
I know I’ve already spilled quite a bit of ink in previous posts saying nice things about SDOT’s transit speed and reliability work, but I’m going to do it again. This kind of work is completely unsexy and thankless, but its absolutely essential to our future as a city, one where we must, of necessity, find thrifty ways to improve the quality of transit service, to give people in growing urban villages a viable alternative to driving everywhere. Outside of a handful of the busiest corridors, buses (or trolleybuses) are the transit technology we will be using for the foreseeable future, and we to make them work well. SDOT is doing the hard work to make that happen.
SDOT will host a public meeting on this project soon, although the dates have not been announced yet. I’ll post reminders about that meeting when it comes up.