Final Broad Street Plan
Final Broad Street Plan

The Seattle Department of Transportation has finalized its plan for a bus lane on Broad Street, a facility which will improve the speed and reliability of outbound trips on RapidRide D and Routes 1, 2, 13, 15X, 17X, 18X, 19, 24, and 33. We’ve written about this project several times (1, 2, 3) since its inception. In response to public feedback, including complaints about parking loss from adjacent retailers, a couple of components from were eliminated or reduced from the original plan: the bus lane will only be in effect from 7 AM to 7 PM (rather than at all times), and the eastbound bike lane originally proposed was eliminated.

One aspect of the plan has actually become more ambitious: both westbound and eastbound bus stops on Broad will be removed. In a previous post, I argued for this, as the stops in this segment are very close together, but in a response to my questions, Metro staff only agreed to consider removing the westbound stop. I’m not sure what changed Metro’s mind, but I’m certainly not going to complain. Both eastbound stops between Denny and 3rd will ultimately be replaced in favor of a single stop on Denny once SDOT completes the Denny trolleybus wire project. SDOT staff tell me that project just finished 90% design, and a public open house will be scheduled for June.

I’m little sad that the bus lane times were cut back, but congestion isn’t usually a problem on Broad St after 7 PM, so it seems like tolerable compromise. Similarly, the bike lane would have been nice, but the huge hill immediately west of 1st would have limited its patronage. One idea that occurred to me, which SDOT has promised to look in to, is extending the hours of the northbound bus lane and queue jump on 1st approaching Denny, just north of this map. Currently this only operates from 3-7 PM, but harmonizing its operation with the new lane on Broad St makes sense to me.

25 Replies to “SDOT Finalizes Broad Street BAT Lane Plan”

    1. I was wondering that too. I’m guessing that this will be considered “temporary”, as in the light at 3rd and Denny could come next year or it could come in 20 years, at which case, Broad would then revert back to its original configuration.

    2. That series of improvements was always sold as a longer-term project, and I’m guessing SDOT will want to wait until more of the 99/Mercer reconstruction is complete before doing serious reconfiguration along Denny Way. If we have to wait 4 years or more for the real fix, then this very cheap improvement is a good interim step.

      1. I asked Jonathan Dong about that last month, and he said while it’s still being looked at, they’re not sure they can make a signal at 3rd & Denny work.

      2. Jonathan Dong is a nice enough guy, but the fact that he still doesn’t see the problem with a 4-minute red light for buses at Elliott and Mercer Place leads me to distrust that his definition for “make it work” has to do with anything except maximizing SOV throughput on the arbitrarily-defined “primary” road.

      3. They need a flyover ramp for southbound Elliot to Mercer Place and just eliminate that left turn light altogether. It would help the flow of all traffic, bus or SOV. Something along the lines of southbound 1st Ave to the Spokane Street Viaduct.

      4. A flyover has reportedly been considered in the past, and rejected as guaranteed to funnel far more traffic onto Mercer than the segment west of Queen Anne Ave could possibly handle.

        As on 43rd and Phinney, we wind up sending an vital core bus route up a street that, for a variety of reasons, no driver in their right mind would choose to make their route.

    3. I love how that graphic includes Magnolia buses. It just rubs in the absurdity of the fact that the only buses which take the straight-line route between downtown and Interbay are the ones which go to one of the least dense parts of Seattle.

      1. That’s because the ridership to and from Magnolia is almost entirely commuters heading for downtown. If the folks in Julep Town want to go to Seattle Center they drive and park in the garage.

        To get ridership from there it needs to be roughly competitive with driving. They can afford to park in downtown.

      2. Jarrett Walker has a great article (and principle) called be on the way.

        To quote:

        An efficient transit line — and hence one that will support good service — connects multiple points but is also reasonably straight so that it’s perceived as a direct route between any two points on the line.

        Lower Queen Anne is not “on the way” between Ballard and downtown. No way, no how. It’s a deviation. And, largely because of the light at Elliott and Mercer, it’s a very time-consuming one, at that.

        I want to emphasize that there’s a big difference between “direct” and “fast”. The 40’s route is not the fastest way to get from downtown to Ballard, but it is a direct way. Similarly, if the 5 were to be rerouted along Westlake and over the Fremont Bridge, it would not be the fastest route to Greenwood, but it would be direct.

        Occasionally, you need to choose between fast and direct. (As a silly example, the 70-series buses save a lot of time by “deviating” to I-5.) However, the LQA deviation is neither fast nor direct. And so many riders who have the choice, choose not to use that service. The fact that people ride the D anyway is simply a reflection of the fact that a dense urban area has a nearly insatiable appetite for transit, no matter how poor.

        Of course, a more cynical interpretation of your post is that rich suburban neighborhoods will get better transit service than mixed-income dense urban neighborhoods. I don’t know how to respond to that, other than to say that it *shouldn’t* be that way.

  1. This is the smart way to improve reliability on the C/D Line: A whole series of ROW and TSP improvements, to reduce bottlenecks and travel time, with a positive effect on every route sharing the C/D’s path. Throw in more ubiquitous, working RTA signage, and the issue of on-time pickups for outbound West Seattle commuters during PM peak (which is not the most important measuring stick) will dissipate.

    If the largest bottleneck on the C/D Line is the Ballard Bridge, invest in the technology to make the bridgetender aware of where the buses approaching the bridge are. This could be a computer interface with a map showing the buses, or possibly just a direct phone and radio line to the central route controllers.

    Priority could be given to letting the southbound Ds beat the bridge openings, though they’d have to be within a couple minutes of crossing.

    I would think technology would already be in place to allow emergency vehicles to cross or pass under while the other direction of traffic waits.

    1. I think that federal maritime law would trump any attempts by the city or Metro to make the bridge wait for buses. I would guess that Seattle emergency vehicles are zoned to not have to cross the bridges, except in rare emergencies.

      About all we can do now is, stripe the southbound ramp down to and up from Leary as a bus only lane, so at least they can get through the light and to the shelter easier. That way, when traffic starts moving, they can merge onto the bridge on ramp and be on its way, rather than still fighting to cross Leary.

      Maybe when the Ballard Bridge is finally replaced, we can hope for a tunnel under the cut ALA IJtunnel in Amsterdam (except with light rail too!). There’s plenty of room on either side for the portals.

      1. I agree about striping a bus-only lane on SB 15th [on-ramp] between Leary Way and Ballard Way. It wouldn’t change regular operations for GP traffic and transit, except during bridge openings (when a transit priority treatment would be most needed). Just another example of how a one or two block improvement could make a positive difference.

    2. I agree with RapidRider and AndrewN on giving the bus a post-opening boost at the Ballard Bridge merge.

      But if you really want to improve southbound reliability for both the D and C overnight, just fix the damned Elliott & Mercer light!

      Go back to how it was pre-2010, when left turns got a 15 second burst of green for every 45 seconds of red, 24 hours a day. That actually worked.

      The current arrangement is just stupid, and cascades into 10-minute delays and severe bunching further down the line.

      1. Hint: The long light at Elliot and Mercer has been diverting lots of auto traffic to Gilman Drive where they follow the 1 KINNEAR wire to lower QA (it’s really a much quicker route to lower QA). Just get the QA neighborhood to start complaining about the steady stream of traffic caused by the long light at Elliot/Mercer and the light will be re-timed within a matter of weeks. Find your inner NIMBY.

      2. Which NIMBYs are stronger: those on Olympic Drive, or those on Mercer Place? Time for a tournament.

      3. Those cars must be taking a wrong turn because I have not noticed an increase in traffic on W Olympic Pl; except for construction related vehicles (just another building boom in the neighborhood). I have noticed the larger gaps in traffic coming up from Elliott when crossing W Mercer.

  2. This is my neighborhood, my husband and I live at 1st and Broad. First we lost the waterfront trolley, then we lost all the busses on 1st Ave, and now we lose Broad St. Stops. Enough. If Metro wants downtown residents to take the bus this does not help.

    1. NB 1st Avenue at Broad St and SB 1st Ave at Bay St will remain. Having stops 450 feet apart (as the current outbound spacing is) doesn’t make anyone want to take the bus, regardless if they live downtown or elsewhere.

    2. If you live at 1st and Broad, you will still have a bus stop across the street northbound and less than a block away southbound. The whole reason to take out these stops is that they are too close to other stops that will stay.

  3. Bus lane and bike lane all in one?! How is this going to improve reliability and speed for buses?!

    1. Well, it’s downhill, so this is less of a problem than on flats, uphills, or lengthy stretches where stops make buses and bikes leapfrog one another.

  4. All of this is swell, but unless SDOT also alters the light timing where Broad crosses 2nd, it won’t do much good.

    Every bus that turns from 3rd at the start of the green cycle sees the light at 2nd change immediately from yellow to red, and stay that way for at least a minute.

Comments are closed.