SDOT held two open houses for the Roosevelt-Eastlake HCT, on Wednesday at TOPS elementary school and last night at UW Tower. The project is the second of the RapidRide corridors partially funded as part of the Let’s Move Seattle levy.
While it’s still early days for this project, we’re getting a better idea of what SDOT meant by the somewhat vague “RapidRide+” that appeared in the levy campaign materials. Though the initial Transit Master Plan had targeted this corridor for possible streetcar treatment, the city has narrowed the study to focus on buses. That’s consistent with what we’ve seen previously from the Murray administration, which has been selective about streetcar investments.
The latest transit study focused on a route that runs from Westlake Station to Northgate via Roosevelt Avenue and Eastlake. Think of it as a “local” version of Link light rail, which will travel underground along a similar route. From Westlake Station to Eastlake Ave E, the route might take Westlake Ave. N or Fairview Ave. N. The Westlake routing is a holdover from when this was a streetcar proposal. Now that buses have been chosen as the preferred mode, Fairview seems like the wise choice, based on current bus routes and the available right-of-way. The buses themselves would continue on to Northgate, but major capital investment would stop at NE 65th St.
The Goldilox menu includes three options:
- “RapidRide” is the minimum bar and least expensive. It would be similar to other RapidRide corridors: branded buses, station improvements, and transit signal improvements.
- “Targeted Investments” is being pitched as the sweet spot: it’s what we might think of as RapidRide+. It would add queue jumps for buses at major intersections and possible electrification, along with some bus lanes. SDOT seems eager to push for electrification as far as possible.
- “Full BRT” would have exclusive right-of-way and center island stations. It would take away parking and have the highest per-mile capital costs. It would also have the fastest travel times.
The full Roosevelt-to-Downtown corridor has a long and varying right-of-way. Getting exclusive lanes all the way through is likely to be cost-prohibitive. Conversations with Metro on bus integration are still in early stages, though SDOT is obviously aware of the similarities with the new Route 67. The “targeted investment” approach also leaves the most room for an “Open BRT” system used by both this route and other Metro routes.
Removing all parking is likely to encounter some opposition from some in the Eastlake neighborhood, especially since most demand for higher speeds and reliability will come from passengers on either side of Eastlake, not the neighborhood itself.
The bike options seem the most fluid: bikes may be located on the side of the street, in a 2-way protected bike lane, on a parallel street, or a mixture of all three.
Speaking of parallel corridors, while they are usually rare in a hilly city like ours, the U-district is unique in that there are 5 major N-S corridors within 1/2 mile: I-5, Roosevelt/11th Ave, University Way, 15th Ave, and, of course, Link. Rather than spread out capital and service investments, it would make sense to have a single point of view from Metro, SDOT, and Sound Transit on where to put biking, transit, pedestrians, and cars.
Project engineering will begin next year, with the new line slated to open in 2019. Documents from the open house will be posted shortly on the project website.
Thanks to reader Tim Fliss for contributing to this report.