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Update: The bus lane won’t happen until spring 2018.

Good news is coming for riders of heavily-traffic-impacted Metro route 8. This week SDOT is installing a bus lane on Denny Way, between Fairview Ave and Stewart St, and painting it red.

The eastbound bus lane will be sandwiched in between a left lane for traffic headed further east on Denny, and a right lane for traffic turning onto Yale Ln and I-5. The bus lane is projected to save 1-2 minutes on each eastbound PM peak trip, but that may be a conservative estimate, given the bus stops that get backed up by the I-5 queue.

A westbound lane will be lost, but SDOT expects any impacts to westbound AM peak trips to be brief.

Road work will start after 7 pm Monday, and is expected to be complete by Thursday.

The new lane is part of a slew of improvements announced last December.  The Route 8 corridor improvement project is funded from $1.4 million in federal grants, and slated to be complete in early 2018.

28 Replies to “SDOT Installing Transit Lane on Denny This Week”

  1. It will improve transit times, but the removal of the westbound stop at Denny and Stewart means no more easy transfer from inbound 520 expresses to Seattle Center and Queen Anne, and no more bus ride to REI from Capitol Hill. Not that these were common trips–but this improvement is a trade-off, not a win-win.

    1. I don’t think the westbound stop is disappearing, since the center bus lane is for eastbound buses. The Denny Substation project includes a “super” stop with seating and other amenities, so I don’t think that investment is going to get tossed mid-construction.

      1. Check the plans! It’s getting deleted because there will only be one westbound lane on that block, to accommodate the added eastbound bus lane.

    2. Trip planner shows Kirkland -> Seattle Center as just s fast if not faster by taking the 255 all the way to 3rd and transferring to the D.

      There are also more options there with all the Queen Anne trolley buses, plus the 33 and 24.

      1. I would tend to agree. There are so many buses going from 3rd/pine to Seattle Center, you shouldn’t have to wait more than a couple of minutes. Much better than having to depend on a single bus that arrives, on paper, every 15 minutes.

    1. Do you suppose that if they painted red the bus-only lanes on Howell that people would stop driving their SOVs in it?

      1. It doesn’t work on Battery Street nor does the signage work on 3rd Avenue most of the time, I don’t see why this will be any different.

      2. On howell the bus only lane is bus only for only certain times of the day which creates confusion

        The other problem is that the space between stop lights on Howell is so limited that the general purpose lane that ends up going towards southbound I-5 is overwhelmed..

        Construction along the street hasn’t helped either.

        Howell is a mess.

  2. By and large I’ve seen the vast majority of drivers respect the red-painted bus lanes on midvale and spring streets. I can’t vouch for battery street or any other spots, but it seems to be working where I’ve seen it. With any law you’re never going to see 100% compliance, but doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to have the law. That said, cameras would get you close.

    1. Not Howell in the PM peak, even with police standing in the intersection one block before the Yale St onramp. The bus lane is clogged with braindead pick up trucks that don’t give a sh*t

    2. Same goes for the Pacific Street lane near UW Station. The only issues that seem to regularly come up are box blocking in front of the lanes, and the use of the lanes by non-transit buses (charters, MS Connectors, Duck boats).

    3. Contrast that with San Francisco where the first time I drove there and went straight through an intersection in a BAT lane, a cop pulled me over and I was issued a warning since I had out of state plates and it was a first time mistake. Never made it again and I noticed that their lanes seem to actually work for buses, go figure.

  3. Am I right that this does nothing for the bridge across I-5 on the way up to Capitol Hill? Or shortage of red paint?

    For me, solutions for the bridge would include a mid-bridge bus lane exactly like a rail-road single track, with buses signaled onto the lane as they arrived? Please fill me in.


    1. Mark, I take it you mean a reversible lane for buses? While it would be nice in theory, it might be a little complicated in practice. I’d think that a downhill bus lane might work and would be much more helpful during rush hour when westbound traffic gets backed up approaching stewart. Since only one lane of car traffic will be continuing onto Denny heading east over the freeway, we could probably survive with a single general purpose eastbound lane with a transit-priority signal at Stewart and left-turn restrictions east of the freeway. Westbound, you would have a bus-only lane on the right, a GP through lane in the middle, and a left-turn lane on the left. Thoughts?

      1. Little different, Squints. Also, one more reason to be mad they killed the Waterfront Streetcar. You don’t do this for a main line, but it’s mainly for slower service where you don’t have room for a track in each direction.

        Many streetcar lines still do this. Too bad not on the Waterfront. Though would work very well with buses. If lanes are painted red.

        Every so often,tracks diverge and then re-join so cars can pass each other. Often a center-platform station. Requires extremely strict communications and signalling. Telegraph equipped 19th century railroads created a lot of folk songs whose title started with “The Wreck of Number….”

        For Denny across I-5, you’d put one bus-only lane in the middle of the street. Signal separate from car-oriented ones would hold approaching buses at top or bottom of bridge, or both. Then, one would be cleared to proceed while the other one waits for its own “Go” signal.

        Signals could also be adjusted to let cars into their own lanes after the bus has crossed into the center lane. But all lanes very low speed. Still faster than present zero miles for a lot of an hour named after bad comedian named Limbaugh.

        Let’s think about it. At last ’till we get the aerial tramway from Capitol Hill Station to Seattle Center.


    2. The argument is that most of the traffic is cars lined up to get onto the freeway, meaning the southbound entrance at Yale Street. There is a northound entrance at Melrose but I think it’s no-left-turn from Denny, so cars have no incentive to queue up on the viaduct to get to the northbound entrance. And in all my times riding the 8 eastbound, I don’t think I’ve encountered any slowdowns east of Stewart.

      The same logic is at work on the westbound queue jump at 45th in Fremont. They made only one block transit-only and said that would solve most of the problem. Seeing how narrow Market Street is west of there: three lanes on the west side of Phinney Ridge, I can see how they couldn’t take two lanes for dedicated transit lanes.

      1. I’m pretty sure the Melrose entrance is from Olive Way, with no direct connection to Denny. Denny traffic therefore has to turn right onto Olive to get onto the freeway.

  4. The problem here is that the east-bound curb lane is solidly stop-and-go during the evening rush hour.The cars that turn left onto Denny from Fairview are forced into the left lane as the right lane is always backed up to the crosswalk at Fairview. For these cars to change lanes into the right lane they will be blocking the center bus only lane until someone lets them in. I foresee an empty bus lane that the bus can’t drive down due to one or two cars blocking their path trying to get to the right lane and onto the freeway.

    1. Pete. we could try a signal setup that would hold cars out of the intersection ’til a bus cleared. If the streetcar lane is along the curb, as through South Lake Union, cars can be held in the lane just left of the train ’til it gets across Denny, and then released for their right turn.

      Other places- like a lot of Rapid Ride intersections, signal can hold ’till all cars ahead of the bus, and then the bus, clear the intersection. Low enough speed in all lanes to keep “weaves” comfortable could still result in faster, smoother crossing for both sets of vehicles.


  5. Always thought the city might consider purchasing some additional feet of ROW from the various parking lot owners on the south side of Denny between Broad and Fairview. Might give you enough room to physically separate a transit lane w/o losing GP lanes. You wouldn’t be able to piece together more than a block or two of transit lane at a time, but as a queue jump with its own signal it could still offer significant time-savings through a stretch where you often sit still for multiple signal phases.

    Or, you know, maybe we should have just built an east-west subway through the densest part of the city before spending billions to serve the hinterlands with expressway stations.

    1. Irving, one problem with “Married With Children” having “Jumped The Shark” and been eaten- not very frequent off Rogers Park or Evanston- is that Google says a lot of the Brown Line is elevated.

      Because I think the guys who dug the subways in Chicago and everyplace else could have given you some discouraging cost comparisons. Argument for subways is all the time and money they save. But not when they’re being dug. Just a guess, but good chance soil, I mean sand, along that cliff is same at Denny as at Swedish Hospital.

      Construction priority always a judgment call. It was always known that Central LINK would carry the least passengers of the three early segments. But it was also the part that could be carrying passengers first. Which was also reason for starting LINK with dual-power buses (really a howl to watch ST people “lose it” when you tell them that.)

      Also, construction explosive both more effective and dangerous than blasting gelatin: Pent up fury of residential and automotive overcrowding. Subways in all our major cities resulted from a fuse stuck in a huge, angry, trapped tax-base. So time we spend building out those extensions to will create a huge pent-up force able- and desperate- to pay for it.

      But for Seattle’s whole future: “New York Alki”…meaning, in the Chief’s language “But you gotta wait.” Or: “In Ya Dreams!”


      1. Oh, sorry, I was sloppy with the word “subway.” Light-rail — tunneled, MLK-style, elevated, whatevs — is what I meant.

  6. Just kidding about the specifics, Irving. Incidentally, what kind of neighborhood is Irving Park now? Last saw Rogers Park about 20 years ago, which was about forty years since we moved near Detroit. Weird thing was not how much the same the place looked.

    But how much more expensive the same sand-blasted brick buildings beside the El track were.
    Proving that proposed Seattle Monorail’s Second Avenue neighbors were needlessly worried about ‘El trains effect on their property values. Maybe if Second had residences instead of offices.

    However, your point about electric commuting’s outer limits raises some interesting questions. The excellent Chicago ‘Els and interurbans nowhere near prevented same sprawl as the rest of our country. But now that the suburbs are packed into worse immobility than old Chicago was packed with people, how do we de-sprawl our suburbs?

    Same motive: car-serving pattern leaves people worse trapped than anyplace in Mayor Daley’s 1950’s Chicago. How do we build the line-haul transit it’ll take to liberate them? Well, like all the Flash Gordon, Space Cadet, and Roy Rogers’ radio announcers said when the half hour was up: “Same time, same station!”

    Radio was great. Weight-training for the imagination. Really a bummer, though, when TV revealed that a World War II bomber called “The Dragon Wagon” did not look in the slightest like a black 80′ long dragonfly. THAT would’ve scared the Nazis a lot worse than a regular B-25 with that olive-colored Army paint.


    1. Irving Park/North Center/Lincoln Square was going through some pretty serious gentrification when we left 10 years ago. A lot of longtime middle-class homeowners were being forced to sell because they couldn’t pay their property taxes. But compared to Seattle…man. We were walking distance to the Irving Park stop and had a large one bedroom with hardwood floors, original crown molding, 12-foot ceilings, a dining room, an office, and enough porch to comfortably hold a Webber kettle, all for $900 in a 1920s courtyard building.

      And, yeah, Rogers Park is night-and-day even from the ’80s and ’90s when we would bike up to catch indie flicks at the 400 theater on Sheridan.

  7. Speaking of the 8…….does anyone know why Metro has started running short buses on the route during the morning commute for the last couple of weeks, just when the bus has become packed with Meany middle schoolers now attending middle school at Miller? Often SRO at MLK and Madison, and with very little relief when they get off at 22nd as more and more Amazonians pile on. It would be one thing if Metro was running buses every 5 minutes, but they are still on a (theoretical) 10-minute schedule.

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