SounderBruce (Flickr)

In an early Christmas gift for beleaguered Queen Anne-SLU-Capitol Hill commuters. Metro and SDOT have announced a slew of improvements for the notoriously unreliable Route 8. The plan would do a number of exciting things:

  • First and foremost, the city will add an eastbound bus lane on Denny between Fairview and Stewart by reducing westbound Denny (rarely congested) to one lane.
  • In Capitol Hill, much of the remaining street parking will be removed between I-5 and Broadway and on John Street from 12th-16th.
  • 2 queue jumps will be added on Denny at Queen Anne Avenue and at Fairview.
  • 3 new left-turn restrictions will be added (Denny at 8th, Terry, and Boren).
  • Retime 4 signals (Denny/ 5th, Denny/Aurora, Olive/Bellevue, and 12th/John)

Route 8 Flyer

Final design will finish up in early 2017, with the improvements slated to be implemented in phases through early 2018.

Long known as a bottomless pit for service hours, the Denny corridor has had structural problems ever since Arthur Denny and Carson Boren built a 49° grid in the Denny Regrade while Doc Maynard prevailed with a cardinal grid elsewhere else. In the 1960s, an era of concrete foolishness, we built I-5 through the heart of the city, reducing Capitol Hill-SLU pathways by two thirds. In 2011, STB had a post consisting of nothing more than a YouTube video of Route 8 not moving for 12 minutes.

Yet most of Route 8’s struggles are due to the short Yale Street on-ramp to southbound I-5. It is the only southbound ramp between the equally congested Mercer and Spring St ramps, and traffic has nowhere to go but to back up onto Denny, blocking Route 8’s bus stops at Westlake, Fairview, and Stewart. Prior improvements have tinkered around the edges but have avoided anything resembling structural change. Metro broke Route 8 in half in March 2016, and Metro and SDOT have repeatedly invested service hours in schedule padding.

Think about that: your transit tax dollars have not been used for new or better service in the corridor, but to eat the costs of the inefficiencies that solo drivers inflict on it. The end result has been universally unsatisfying: everyone pays more in their money and time, no one gets where they’re going, and the resulting misery exacerbates the problem by creating a perverse incentive to avoid transit.

So three cheers to SDOT and Metro for offering some real hope. This is the kind of thinking we’ve needed all along.

72 Replies to “A Christmas Present for Route 8 Riders: A Denny Bus Lane”

  1. Whoo! I think the real question is: will this come with enforcement of the bus only lane and the left turn restrictions? I see both ignored on a daily basis up and down Westlake.

    1. The plastic dividers help where left turns are prohibited. A concrete median would be a good idea on Denny!

      1. @Matt: Sure, when they start enforcing anything in the City. Until then, no.

        @Ariel: Unfortunately, Denny isn’t wide enough to even put one of those small, yellow, concrete curbs.

      1. If memory serves, Metro toyed with that idea before. Personally, I’m not that fond of it. I think there is a service disconnect between that section of Madison and the rest of the 8. In other words, I think a lot more people from MLK are trying to make that turn than people from Madison Park. As Mars asked, what happens to service along MLK? You could just remove it, and get by with service on 23rd, or just end it at Madison. If you did the latter, a bus still needs to turn around.

        Plus you have the issue of the 11. Right now folks in Madison Park have a one seat ride to downtown. Once Madison BRT is built, I think it makes sense to modify the 11 to go on Thomas, then follow the route of the 10 to downtown. That would mean retaining the one seat ride to downtown, as well as a good connection to both Madison BRT and Link. If the 8 goes to Madison Park, you would either eliminate that one seat ride to downtown, or give folks in Madison Park way more service than is justified (while short changing the Central Area).

        That doesn’t make much sense to me. I think we need to figure out how to make that turn.

  2. By the title of the post, it sounded like something that would happen this month or at least reasonably soon. 1.5 years of Seattle process is honestly among the most exciting of Christmas presents.

  3. Super awesome except they are proposing to remove the westbound bus stop by the substation under construction. I’m not onboard with that which I use to access 24 hour fitness there.

    1. Yeah, that’s pretty crazy… that’s a significant transfer point from I-5 buses (545, 512, 255, various peak-hour routes). Having two westbound lanes at least allowed that stop to exist. I guess people coming from the ‘burbs and heading west will stay on and transfer near Westlake. It didn’t work in the other direction because the outbound buses are Olive Way (hopefully the Olive Way Freeway Station gets built soon?)…

      Anyway, that will leave a gap of almost 3/8-mile between the Bellevue and Fairview stops, pretty wide stop spacing for an urban route.

      1. I’d venture that many of those suburban buses (esp. from the north) go away because of light rail by 2023.

    2. A side effect of adding the eastbound bus lane, my guess would be. Possibly SDOT not willing to give up the 2nd westbound lane unless the in-lane bus stop was removed.

      1. Considering how slow the 8 is, I’m not going to complain if the elimination of one stop speeds it up a bit more. Even when Denny isn’t a a parking lot, it seems like the bus ends up waiting for nearly every single stoplight.

        Currently, the near-side stop before Stewart St. is especially bad because, when the light is red, cars block the bus from pulling up to the stop, so the bus must wait for the light to turn green before opening it’s doors, which means, by the time it’s time to start moving again, the light is red. At least with an exclusive bus lane, the bus driver will be able to pull right up to the stop and open the doors while the light is red and the bus would need to stop anyway.

    3. Looking closer at the diagram, one or both of the bus stops at Olive/Denny are going away too, so thats no stop between Summit and Fairview!!!!!

      1. My guess: removing the eastbound stop at Denny & Olive, expanding the eastbound stop at Summit. I assume the westbound stop at Bellevue is staying (there’s no “removal” dot on that side of the street). Eastbound that makes the stops Fairview, Stewart, and Summit. Westbound: Summit, Bellevue, Fairview. Seems reasonable, and probably gets the bus through the light from Denny to Olive a lot more reliably.

    1. Jack, I think the main problem with a cable-way along the Route 8 would be the horizontal length of it. Would any line shorter than Capitol Hill Station to Seattle Center make any sense?

      If costs are close, might a standard elevated system from Capitol Hill to Lower Queen Anne work better? I can see same cars as SkyTrain. Or, an east-west subway line from, say, Madison Park, passing elevator-depth below Capitol Hill Station.

      I do think Harborview Hospital to Courthouse Park at Pioneer Square station is worth some serious liaison with Portland Tramway. Depending on soil and geology to foot the pillars, their experience could help us quite a lot.


      1. and once the Ballard subway is built we won’t need a metro 8, but I’ll be on Maui by then so I won’t care.

      2. We’ll need a Route 8 subway if we ever want to connect the third-most populous neighborhood in Seattle, but I’ll be dead and the climate will be permanently destroyed by the time that ever happens, so I should probably try to stop caring.

      3. The main problem is the political will to consider gondolas.

        Hmm, Portland has both streetcars and a gondola. Paul Allen made a big deal about a streetcar and made it happen. What if he’d made a big deal about a gondola….

      4. A Metro 8 subway makes sense after the Ballard subway is built. But a gondola might not.

        A gondola would connect one stop on Capitol Hill (presumably close to CHS) along with at least one stop in South Lake Union, and maybe stops all the way to Lower Queen Anne. Link, however awkwardly, will accomplish that goal. A gondola on Harrison, though, might actually accomplish it better. It could run along Harrison, starting at roughly Summit. The first stop would be Fairview. This gets you to the Cascade neighborhood, and removes the worst part of a walk. So if you were at Harrison on Capitol Hill, trying to get to Harrison on South Lake Union, this would save you about five blocks of walking. It would also mean very little wait time. Gondolas are slow, but “headways” are measured in seconds. A train trip, on the other hand, would require waiting twice. Since there will soon be frequent (and better) service along Fairview, it means that a trip from Eastlake to Capitol Hill would involve this gondola, and be much faster than alternatives.

        But I agree, Mike, the biggest problem is political. People view gondolas as entertainment, not effective public transportation. I think it is both. If built soon, it would bridge a long gap, while offering an alternative to Link that has its advantages. But more than that, it would likely be popular just because it would be fun. I would ride it several times a year (why not?). This is why it would make sense to connect to the Seattle Center. I could imagine a fantastic little loop. Westlake to the Center via the monorail, then followed by a gondola ride and then back to Westlake via Link.

        That’s why I think you are right, Mike — a public/private (or just private) partnership makes a lot of sense. The big question is whether there would be any imminent domain loss of property. This all sounds good until you talk about kicking people out of their home.

      5. Portland has a terrible streetcar system that is slightly faster than walking, yet is expanding at a head scratching rate (something that Seattle needs to NOT emulate).

        Their gondola is a VERY expensive toy that was a result of the terrible decision to put a high profile teaching hospital on an inaccessible hill and serves mainly employees of the hospital. That money would be better served getting the “Metro 8 Subway” shovel-ready.

      6. The 2013 data for the Portland Arial Tram (see NTD data says it costs $380,733 to operate and had $415,880 in fare revenue.

        The Seattle version would probably have more fare revenue due to the ORCA network putting money into the pocket of the operating agency, while in Portland they just accept TriMet passes.

      7. Regarding my last comment: eminent domain, not imminent.

        @Glenn — That doesn’t sound bad at all. That’s almost full farebox recovery. It means that it is losing money — so not great from a private business standpoint — but more cost effective than just about all public transit. From what I can tell, it looks like a great place to put it — saving a huge amount of time over the alternatives (even a direct drive in the middle of the day is faster). It connects reasonably well with other transit. I would say the big thing that Capitol Hill to Lower Queen Anne has is density. It wouldn’t save as much time, but it would connect areas that have a lot more people by them.

        It is interesting that the Portland tram only operates every six minutes. The cars are big (about as big as a bus) so I guess that makes sense, but a bit disappointing. It is probably fine for that sort of ride — where alternatives take so long — but for a Capitol Hill gondola, it would cut into ridership considerably. For that you would want something similar with smaller cars but operating more often.

      8. With the time it takes to get from one end to the other and turn over passengers, I’m not sure it could run much more frequently.

      9. Maybe not that particular type of tram, but gondolas in general are capable of much faster headways. Something like this would make more sense for Capitol Hill to South Lake Union.

        I’m guessing the six minute headways are due to relatively low demand (for that size car) and the nature of that trip. From what I can tell, the areas are fairly isolated, so maybe it is based on the connection with the streetcar. The streetcar arrives, everyone waits for one big tram car, and off they go.

      10. Ross: Check again. I think you may be reversing the numbers. $65,000 greater than expenses.

        I don’t think you’d want it to go faster due to the swing when the thing crosses the intermediate pillar. It’s already uncomfortable for a lot of people.

      11. We shouldn’t try to draw too many conclusions about how a Denny or Harrison gondola would do based on the one in Portland. The Portland one is a point-to-point connector mostly serving a single major destination, and it goes where there really aren’t parallel streets. So there’s a real floor and a ceiling to ridership. A Metro 8 gondola would have a higher ceiling for ridership (a greater variety of destinations open over a wide range of the day, all along the line) but a lower floor (there are lots of competing ways to get up and down Capitol Hill). It would really have to deliver high-quality service to succeed.

      12. @Glenn — Ha, I did mix up the numbers. Holy cow, the thing actually makes money. That is fantastic from a public transportation standpoint. I think the monorail is the only system that makes money around here. It sounds like they could drop the price a bit now.

        The speed is fine, I was thinking more in terms of frequency. Basically this is one giant tram going every six minutes. Smaller, more frequent trams would be better, but they might encounter more swinging.

        @Al — I agree. The time savings with the Portland gondola is enormous. Based on info from Google Maps, it saves about ten minutes versus a drive, even when there isn’t any traffic. A Capitol Hill gondola would not have that kind of savings. Depending on the street, it could save five minutes of walking (for some riders) and depending on traffic, either a lot or nothing at all versus a bus. I still think it is worth studying and depending on cost, building. From a transportation standpoint it has a low floor, but I don’t think it that low. It would always make sense if you are traveling close to the end points and it would have value as a fun ride (similar to the monorail).

        If freeway park ever gets extended, then it might make more sense to just extend the park all the way to Mercer. That would mean that you could simply walk across there. From Summit to Eastlake is only 1,000 feet. Over to Fairview (where the 8 might run in the future) is less than a half mile. So someone from that part of Capitol Hill could simply walk down the hill to get to South Lake Union, or pick up the 8 there. That would only save time during heavy traffic, which means that either the bus gets faster or people would have an alternative. Meanwhile, you would have a very nice park, which would also be a lot less controversial to build.

      13. I think the monorail is the only system that makes money around here. It sounds like they could drop the price a bit now.

        Well, there is San Juan Transit. They are a private company. However, they only run 2.5 months a year too.

        I suppose they could lower the cash price now, but the Portland Arial Tram price structure is designed to encourage its use by regular commuters. So, they charge a steep price for cash fares, and accept free of charge monthly passes.

        Have a TriMet day or week ticket?
        In God and Monthly Pass Holders We Trust! All Others Pay Cash!!

        This fare structure does discourage irregular use, but it also is what leads to the operation paying for itself: the tourists paying once subsidize the free acceptance to monthly pass holders.

      14. Oh, I should point out that the 2014 numbers are nowhere near as rosy. There were about $2 million in expenses for that year. I’m guessing that 2014 is when they did the cable replacement. Just like an elevator, they are required to replace the cables on a regular basis. I think it is every 7 years or something, so 2014 would be the year that they did the first cable replacement.

        So, its 6 years of plenty followed by one year of big expense, then 6 years of plenty.

  4. While I see a Denny bus lane as a boon for Rte 8, this does little for the transit riders getting off I-5 and I-5 Express Lanes as single lane GP operations will further snarl an already busy off ramp. The offramp to Denny sees about 15k ADT (2010). More recent data is unavailable because the traffic detectors are in failure.

    Unless Seattle DOT works with WSDOT to provide transit lane connectivity (transit lane on mainline off ramp/Express Lanes to Stewart converted to HOV/Transit Only, the Denny Bus Lane will only benefit CapHill….not the other transit riders.

    1. Did you mean, “Unless WSDOT works with Seattle DOT to provide transit connectivity”? WSDOT isn’t known for putting a high priority on transit, and Seattle and the transit agencies have to work around it. For an example of both, see the 520 project in Montlake and think about buses coming from the Eastside.

      1. Mike, much of SDOTs traffic operations team is ex-WSDOT. …and there is communication between both agencies.

        The project is initiated by SDOT, thus it is SDOT’s responsibility to advise WSDOT of the halo effect where an already poor functioning off-ramp will get worse.

        A number of CT and ST routes are stuck in the Stewart off-ramp slog. This proposal will only benefit the 8. The 510/512, and a number of 400 numbered CT routes will be adversely effected.

      2. Charlotte I am curious as to how the 400s and the 510/512 are going to be negatively impacted by this? Is there more potential for the intersection to be blocked?

        I wonder if most of the negative impact was due to prohibiting the left turn off the I-5 Express lanes to go down Eastlake and Howell to 9th Ave and Howell is still quite underutilized except during PM peak hour. Honestly I wonder if you could make it reversible on Howell into town to get traffic moving off the express lanes that adversely impacts CT and ST routes.

      3. Charlotte, I don’t think the Stewart buses would have any impact. The queues from westbound Denny at Fairview don’t seem that long, and I presume the signal timing at Denny/Stewart would be similar to today.

    2. I disagree. Everytime I go past the “denny” (actually Stewart) offramp coming south, the backup is almost exclusively people cramming into the left lanes to head up to capitol hill, or straight ahead into downtown. The right turn onto westbound Denny is pretty free-flowing (and is already only one lane).

      If you can get around the people going straight & left, turning right is easy.

    3. You may be right that it will be a problem, but only for four years. In 2023 the 400’s and CT expresses will disappear completely, unless they’re routes bound for SLU, and those will probably use Mercer.

  5. I feel like some of the roads that intersect with denny from the south should be blocked off or removed. The way the two different grids mesh together is probably a big part of the problem.

    I guess removing left turns approximates this though.

    1. Yes, absolutely. The south side of Denny is a total disaster for pedestrians. Streets coming from the south should either:

      – Have full signalized intersections (like Stewart)
      – Be one-way, right-turn-only situations (like Yale is today), with curbs extended to minimize crossing distances

  6. 2018. That’s when it will be completed. Perhaps this post was accidentally published two years early ;)

    Wondering why it will take so long – these improvements have already been in the works for a while now.

    1. These changes shouldn’t take much longer than a weekend, ok maybe a bit longer but not well over a year

      1. They have to do signal work at a dozen intersections on what are probably antiquated systems. They probably need to run new utilities to these intersections to bring in the networking for the new signal boxes. They probably have to bring stretches of the street and sidewalks up to code. They need to provide notifications to affected homes and businesses about street closures. They need to schedule around major events on the hill and at Seattle Center. They need to reroute the bus service they are trying to enhance while they do all this work. I’m sure all our eyes boggle at the notion of this taking a year and a half, but picture the Gantt chart for this kind of undertaking.

      2. @fletc3her: I feel that commenters on this blog need to all be part of a civil engineering project from inception, through design, to final construction.

  7. Assuming it’s only the westbound bus stop that’s being axed, and the eastbound #8 stop in the island is remaining, I guess the bus lane will be the middle of three eastbound lanes? That would be right turns to Yale on the right, through-traffic on the left, bus lane down the middle, veering to the curb past the turn point. Being all the way to the left would be faster (less lane blockage due to lane-changes), but make access to the eastbound island stop impossible.

    This suggests a way to keep the westbound stop. Because the right-turn lane goes away halfway through the Yale intersection and the bus lane is back where today’s curbside lane is at the island, the centerline could run where it does today at that point. Then a westbound bus stop on Denny (used only by the #8) could sit just past Stewart (a little east of today’s stop, directly across from the eastbound island stop). The westbound lane of Denny would flow to the left of the bus stop, then in front of it as the centerline shifts to accommodate the third eastbound lane. This wouldn’t be great for eastbound #8 reliability, though… and I don’t know whether this would be considered too crazy a course for through-lanes to follow…

  8. Removing street parking will not increase bus speeds. It will just attract more traffic. It’s called induced demand.

    It will also take away a “safety barrier” (parked cars) between moving traffic and pedestrians on the sidewalk. I don’t see how this is good at all.

    1. Buses turning from southwest Olive to westbound Denny won’t have to weave around one or two parked cars just to pull back into the bus stop. Also at John/12th, the left-turning cars can really hold up a bus trying to get the bus stops at the far side of the intersection. It looks like they’re selectively removing a few spots along the route to improve bus speed (while not greatly increasing overall vehicle capacity).

    2. Cris, I’m pretty sure that for purposes of this discussion, understanding is that a Downtown or neighborhood street specifically planned for transit will include emphatically reserved bus lanes.

      With the additional understanding that along a right of way worth an express bus line, a lane paved and structured for moving vehicles is too valuable to be used for parking.

      For shielding pedestrians and passengers from each other, a block-long concrete planter’s worth of roses, especially with thorns, will have very few mirrors or doors ripped off of it by moving buses.


    3. Parked cars sometimes make it more dangerous for pedestrians – obstructing visibility while crossing the street, for example.

      Moreover, I don’t think the removal of ~4 blocks of parking is going to induce driving demand much. This isn’t a new GP lane all the way across the Denny-John corridor. Also, a more reliable #8 could encourage a few drivers to switch to transit. A bit less parking could nudge a few more drivers to switch to alternative modes.

  9. These are all good changes. When I commuted last year from LQA via the 8, the backups started way before Fairview. Usually it started by Dexter although it could be at First and Denny on a bad day. Still, if they can make a dent in the delays, that is better than nothing.

  10. Great news!
    By the way, where else should I-5 been have built in the 1960s? Trying to think of sensible alternatives, but not finding any.

    1. Not at all?

      No, in all honesty, interstate highways like I-5 should have been built around the city centers that they pass through, rather than directly through them. That’s how it’s done in Europe, and if it’s truly an “interstate” highway system, then cross-metro connectivity shouldn’t have been an issue. It should have been on the Eastside.

      1. Then Bellevue would be Seattle and Seattle would have lost pretty much all of it’s downtown, probably becoming a sleepy, yet wealthy, single family suburb of Bellevue (assuming 90 expansion and 520 bridge still being built.

        It would have just pushed the problems to the Eastside. We would instead be complaining that I-5 shouldn’t have been built through downtown Bellevue, it should have been built down the 99 corridor.

      2. The other thing Europe and Vancouver have is different land use policies. If those weren’t changed, then sprawl would continue unabated asnd subsidized by FHA mortgage policies. But Bellevue would not “become Seattle” and Seattle would not “become a sleepy, yet wealthy single family suburb”. First, Seattle would be healthier, with its neighborhoods and grid streets intact. Seattle had a sixty year head start, most if the population, almost all the jobs (except the Boeing plants), and underused land in south Lake Union. (The city stalled on SLU zoning for forty years undecided what to do with it; that’s why it wasn’t rebuilt till the 90s. That may have been a good thing considering that anything earlier would have been lower density.) When I-5 first opened people didn’t use it much because their commute patterns didn’t go that way; e.g., Beacon Hill to Renton Boeing. So Seattle would probable have kept most of its existing companies and continued adding new ones. 405’s impact on the Eastside would be somewhat more but not night and day because it was in fact built, it would just have been wider eartier. The only major region-changing business the Eastside attracted before the 90s was Microsoft. That’s one compared to hundreds of business headquarters or regional offices in downtown Seattle. And the entire premise is based on a bet that Seattle is capable of retaining its preeminence and can absorb the growth, and that growth would occur north and south rather than east (which was the assumption prior to 405, 520, and I-90). Seattle had some white flight but it didn’t have the deep inner-city ghettos that people felt they absolutely had to flee from. Presumably instead of I-5, one or two of the existing arterials would have been widened to six-lane boulevards to accommodate the cars traveling north and south to and within the city.

        The bridges are trickier to predict. I can’t see I-90 not being widened; three lanes peak, one lane reverse-peak was clearly not sufficient long-term, especially if 520 weren’t built. So the bridge would have to be enlarged, and something done for the cars on the west side. But it could have continued terminating at Dearborn Street, which was already wide. And most traffic woulf have gone to the 405 interchange and remained on the Eastside, so ther only cars coming to Seattle would be those who want to come to Seattle (or the islands or west sound).

        I don’t know the story about 520, what motivated it. If the Mercer Island Bridge hadn’t been so minimal, and the new I-90 bridge hadn’t been delayed until the 80s, maybe 520 wouldn’t have had such string support. Not building I-5 in Seattle would have left a lot of money to get the Mercer Island bridge renovated earlier. But mayve 520 would have been built anyway. In that case, its Seattle side should follow the same principles: not a neighborhood-slicing freeway. As is happens, there already is a boulevard that could have been widened: Madison Street. Oh, Madison Park residents would not have been happy. But I don’t know how many of the mansions and boutique restaurants existed then. The highrise dates from around that era.

        Could the Bellevue “second city” have been in south King County or Lynnwood? Christopher Leinberger says every American metropolis has a favored quarter where the rich business execs live, generally in the opposite direction of the historic industrial district, and inside a pie shape of two radial freeways and a peripheral freeway. The execs establish companies the can reverse-commute to avoiding traffic. So Bill Gates in Medina and Microsoft first at Bellevue Way then in Redmond fits this picture. But that assumes the existence of the three freeways. And it was the rich people’s presence that caused the radial freeways to go that direction, both by their direct influence and the belief economic developmemet would happen there. I’m not sure why they favored the Eastside so much; mayve it was the Lake Washington shoreline and the view driving across the bridge. But maybe if a few other factors had been different, the predisposition for the favored quarter could have been different too. South is unlikely since it was the industrial district (although Tukwila and Kent were still farmland so presumably they could be ritzified. So the remaining direction is north, and that suggests Lynnwood. Lynnwood has direct freeway access, it’s about the same distance from Seattle as Bellevue, and it doesn’t have the bottl;eneck of the bridges to cross. So in out 405-only scenario, maybe Lynnwood would have been the new Bellevue.

        Of course, it also depends on the city councils, how much they support growth. Bellevue was planning a big downtown in the 70s. Lynnwood wasn’t ready for more than two stories until the 2000s, and because of that it missed the real-estate bubble that could have built some of it.

      3. No freeway has been built through or into downtown Salem.

        It just means that if you want to go to a drive-through window at a fast food restaurant, you have to go east to the freeway. It also means BoltBus doesn’t go there.

        This has not stopped much of the downtown area from being demolished and turned into parking for what remains.

      4. Also, remember the 1980s KOMO documentary that was linked here. (I checked the Sunday open threads from May 2016 to May 2015 but couldn’t find it.) The region was considering three growth scenarios: “metro towns” (satellite cities), linear districts (three parallel north-south lines) , or centralizing all growth in Seattle. These decisions determined where the post-1970s businesses and housing would go. The metro town model won out, and the commentator said the vision had been fulfilled pretty much as expected. That’s a bit hard to believe because the suburban landscape in the 80s and now does not look like “satellite cities with green in between”, it looks like sprawl everywhere. But maybe by “growth” they meant just commercial/multifamily districts, not cul-de-sac houses. That coukld explain how they thought it succeded when thewre’s no green land to be found except in parks, and the asphalt-and-concrete sprawl is soul-destroying.

    2. If the city had been adamantly opposed to the freeway, maybe another alternative would have gotten favor, and Seattle could have just gotten another boulevard in the north end and in the south end as in England and Vancouver. But the city leaders were really bullish on freeways: the World’s Fair had just ended with its transportation of tomorrow theme, and they thought I-5 and 520 were going to be the greatest thing for the city’s economy we’d ever seen.

      A 405-only alternative wouldn’t have had to make the sharp turn at Soutcenter and go through downtown Renton near the Boeing plant. It could have gone more gradually northeast from Federal Way, perhaps like how Highway 18 does now, and then it could have turned north to follow the Eastside Rail Corridor (which I assume it intentionally did).

      1. When I-5 and the rest of the Interstate Highway system were designed, I think that very few people could imagine could imagine that fifty years later, they’d be to blame for the greatest loss of personal mobility in history.

        No question usual greed and corruption were in there. Also miles of linear ethnic cleansing. But I don’t recall any popular resistance serious enough even to slow down construction. If there had been, Forward Thrust would have won on the first ballot.

        I wonder what plans, or even ideas, exist right now for what to do with lanes and structure designed for fast car and truck travel through an artificial canyon through a major city. When its usefulness no longer pays for its upkeep.

        Good thing we’ve got seventy years more underground civil engineering experience, because its alteration should be a lot easier than its construction.


      2. No question usual greed and corruption were in there.

        In some cases, towards the end of the streetcar era, that was certainly the case.

        However, in the early years, better roads and automobiles were viewed by the trust busting movement as a way of setting people free from horse manure and oligarchs that owned street railways and railroad companies.

        Sadly, today, a certain group of individuals would like to see us return to the latter (privatize public services!) by feeding us lots of the former.

  11. So is this change going to mean better service frequency for the #8? Or is it going to mean they are able to maintain the same frequencies with one less bus?

  12. The DJC reported today on a twin tower project in design starting construction next year at 7th near Denny with about 750 parking spaces, so yay more projects with tons of parking dumping more cars on streets (And there’s many similar ones in design or construction too around here). Hopefully the streets are so badly congested that they’ll be scared away from using their cars.

  13. This is great but I’m now not sure what you mean by the westbound lane isn’t congested? Every time I drive there during rush hour (which isn’t all that often) it’s always backed up and slow. A good plan, though.

  14. I’m very concerned about the idea of “retiming” the Denny/Aurora lights. Unless they’re talking about it after the tunnel is completed (in which case “Aurora” is a very different thing than today and will need to be recalibrated entirely. The problem is that no one knows yet what the end of the Battery Street Tunnel (and the ability to access Western from the tunnel) will meant to Aurora traffic. But as a commuter on the 26X, I’m very concerned if the usual SDOT method of thinking that giving a light a longer cycle when it just backs up to the next light (see Mercer at Dexter) is used. We may never get off the 26X south of Denny again.

  15. The handful of parking spots along olive that will be lost are totally worth it. I wonder how they will structure the turn from Olive to Denny. With Denny backing up all the way to Olive with freeway traffic, how are cars going to continue straight on Denny from Capitol Hill? Also I hope to god they finally restrict people going east and west from turning left at the Broadway and Olive/John intersection cars will now be forced to wait.

  16. So I wonder how the completion of the SR 99 project (AKA Bertha) fits into this. The long range plan includes a bus line — a rapid one at that — turning at Fairview and then crossing Aurora on Harrison. This would be the first crossing of Aurora between Mercer and Denny since the 50s (if I have my history right). Since it is a new crossing, and there is very little traffic going that direction, simply turning one of those lanes into a bus lane should be very easy politically. Fairview itself will hopefully get some bus lanes (as part of the Roosevelt HCT project) which means that from the Seattle Center to the freeway would all be in bus lanes. That is a huge improvement, making that trip at rush hour a lot faster than driving.

    You still have several turns, though. How exactly those turns are handled will determine a lot. It seems to me that the 8 should get the same treatment as the other RapidRide+ corridors ( Since the Roosevelt HCT project will get off-board payment, the 8 should as well. That means that sharing a stop at, say, Fairview and John, would make a lot of sense. The issue again is making that left turn. Maybe you could make the middle lane on southbound Fairview straight only, with left turns only allowed for buses. That would mean that a bus would have only to move over one lane to turn left and not deal with cars turning left, but simply cars heading straight. The lane I’m talking about is the one with the bus shown in this picture.

    This changes sounds good, but the loss of stops makes it tricky and controversial. I hope they study this in conjunction with all of the possible changes (like using Harrison instead of Denny to cross Aurora or the Roosevelt HCT project). It would be a shame to shuffle things around a few years after making this change (although these types of changes are relatively cheap).

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