On Wednesday, from 5-7PM at the Greenwood Public Library, the Seattle Department of Transportation is hosting an open house to discuss a set of proposed transit, pedestrian and bike improvements for the section of Greenwood between 85th St and 105th St. The proposal has changed significantly from its initial version, but mostly in good ways. If you’re a person who uses transit on Greenwood, you should be there to express support for these changes, which will make your bus faster and more reliable; alternatively, you can send comments to Christine Alar at SDOT.
The main part of the proposal is to close a number of substandard and overly-closely-spaced stops, and upgrade four of the remaining stops to be transit islands similar those found on Dexter, with benches, shelters, conduit for future real-time sign installation, and bike lanes flowing around the outside (concept diagram below). This is a major upgrade for those facilities, as most of this section of Greenwood lacks proper sidewalks, and some of the stops are little more than a post in a ditch.
More after the jump.
Responding to public feedback, the stops at 87th have been retained, and other improved stops have been shifted closer to existing crosswalks and traffic signals. Also, not obvious from the map above, the stop currently just north of 103rd will be shifted up, just south of 104th, to slightly improve the connection between Route 5 and Route 40. Because of the channelization and traffic patterns of the complex intersection at 105th & Greenwood, and obstructions on the sidewalk, it’s not possible to move that stop further north.
The second part of the proposal is largely invisible preparation for the future installation of sidewalks throughout this section of Greenwood. As with many of the arterials north of 85th St (notably including Aurora), no authoritative survey of the public right of way has ever been undertaken, so property boundaries are unclear, which effectively prohibits major upgrades to bus stops and sidewalks. Surveys are expensive, but SDOT has paid to have this stretch of Greenwood surveyed, both for the bus islands, and to complete a shovel-ready design that can be used to compete for federal and city grants that would pay to complete the sidewalk network here.
There are some cheap things that could be done to capitalize on the speed and reliability improvements this proposal would provide. Most obviously, Metro and SDOT could work together to consolidate stops on the section of Greenwood between 50th and 80th, which has far too many stops, some just a block apart. The agencies could also examine the possibility of speeding up the bus by using Fremont and 50th rather than Phinney and 43rd.
Like everything else SDOT’s Transit division does with buses, my only real complaint about this project is that the scope isn’t large enough: we should be doing this for all of Greenwood, and for every other major transit street in Seattle, as fast as humanly possible. Projects like this aren’t sexy, and this part of Greenwood isn’t the kind of the photogenic place where electeds like to have photo ops, but this kind of block-by-block hard work, negotiating with property owners and transit riders to make transit universally fast, reliable and accessible, at a reasonable cost, is a major but unsung part of how we will make Seattle a viable place to live without a car.