SDOT Blog announced more upcoming transit improvements around 1st/Denny. They will:

  • Add a signal phase that allows left turns to Denny from northbound 1st Avenue’s right-side bus lane. This will allow outbound Magnolia routes and Ballard expresses to use the bus lane all the way to the intersection instead of merging into the often congested general-purpose lanes to turn left. Details of the signal phase are not given, but there’s precedent for short, vehicle-actuated queue jump phases in similar situations throughout Seattle. The biggest question I have (as someone that doesn’t ride through here regularly) is whether more advanced detection is needed at this intersection, to check whether multiple buses need to get into the intersection. When the 44 bunches (or when the 44 and 16 go through 45th/Wallingford together) its queue-jump signal phases aren’t long enough for both buses to get through. When it’s two buses on the same route giving the first a head start doesn’t matter much (the second, emptier bus will catch back up to the loaded first bus within a few stops), but this turn serves five different routes.
  • Move the bus stop just after this left turn west, to make more room when multiple buses approach the stop. The need to do this suggests that multiple buses indeed go through the left turn together often.
  • Extend bus lane hours on northbound 1st approaching Denny. Currently it’s open for a few hours in the evening peak. A few hours in the morning peak will be added as well. This is good news as it helps out the D Line and all-day Queen Anne routes making counter-peak trips. It’s not quite the all-day bus lanes requested here, but it’s an incremental step.

Investments at this intersection suggest SDOT isn’t imminently planning to let northbound buses turn left from 3rd to Denny, for better or worse. I haven’t seen any exact dates, but the blog says “complete by fall 2014”.

15 Replies to “SDOT: Improvements at 1st/Denny to speed QA, Magnolia, Ballard routes”

  1. Isn’t that lane also the right turn lane? I don’t see any indication that right turns are prohibited there, though when I lived in Belltown it always felt weird because it’s like a 135 degree turn.

  2. …suggest SDOT isn’t imminently planning to let northbound buses turn left from 3rd to Denny

    What a shame. Westbound Denny is pretty much free-and-clear from about 4th to 1st, at all hours. What better way to say “we prioritize transit” than to give buses exclusive access along their natural path, even while the mechanics of that complicated intersection prevent autos from doing the same.

    That right-triangle detour is awful for buses. After the infuriatingly labored four-way stop at Cedar, buses always seem to reach Broad just as the light is turning. The next cycle, inbound traffic invariably delays turning. Then you miss the 2nd Ave light every…single…time, because SDOT has the signals synced for Broad Underpass through-traffic that no longer exists, thus rendering their own bus lane useless. Then wait for pedestrians at 1st, and then you’re finally on your way… as long as some Seattle driver isn’t too far over in the middle lane, thus blocking the bus lane.

    In this added signal phase, coming as it does after 3-4 minutes of foul treatment at the hands of SDOT planners, is a pretty lousy consolation prize.

    Reminder: many of these buses have the word “rapid” on the side.

    1. How hard is it for 1,2, 12, D, etc. for drivers to make the turn onto 1st Ave N from Denny? Would it make any sense to give them the current “right triangle” detour, while letting the express buses (15,17, 18) and Wallingford buses make the turn from 3rd onto Denny?

      1. That right turn has no issues at all. The 8 does it dozens of time a day at the very end of its run. There is rarely any sort of obstructive quantity of pedestrians crossing latitudinally at that particular corner.

        There’s no reason for any bus to retain the detour.

    2. That right turn onto 1st is an issue even when everyone behaves, because the buses almost all need space in the center lane to complete their turn. There really needs to be a small “do not block” section (like those in front of fire stations) for 50 or so feet in the center lane on 1st Ave.

  3. Why dont the police ever enforce bus lanes in Seattle? Its ridiculous the disregard motorists have of the lanes

    1. Why don’t they ever ticket Bus drivers for blocking intersections? Every single time there’s the slightest bit of congestion some idiot bus driver will block the box and bring downtown to a complete standstill.

      1. The opposite is true. I’ve been on buses that have missed five cycle in a row, because the available space keeps filling with SOVs on the alternate phase, and he refuses to block the box in the slightest, no matter the damage it does to his passengers.

        Common sense says that sometimes you must override a system that broken. Dozens of bus riders are more important than the couple of cars that may be partially and most fleetingly obstructed.

        Just fucking block it.

  4. why doesn’t SDOT assign transit priority lanes & signals coupled with SPD enforcement so transit can get those thousands of people home without getting stuck in traffic? what a great reward for leaving their cars at home

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