Metro’s head of service development, Bill Bryant, told STB about Metro’s provisional plans for West Seattle bus operations when the viaduct closes later this year, during the 3-6 week period when the SR 99 tunnel has not yet opened. These changes are not permanent. Metro will revise service again when SR 99 is back in operation through central Seattle.
Bryant also provided STB with two maps of the intended route changes. Those maps, and the below plans, were shared with and created with input from SDOT and WSDOT.
One map shows operations downtown, which may have another revision; the other shows operations in Sodo, which are unlikely to change. Bryant emphasized that any part of the plans could change, especially if operations create unforeseen challenges.
“[The map] is subject to change,” Bryant said. “Metro is working hard to be flexible, and we might need to change the routing during the actual closure as well.”
Here are the important points, from a rider’s perspective:
- Stops will not be changed in West Seattle, or south of West Seattle. Routing “south and west of Spokane Street” will be the same, says Metro spokesperson Scott Gutierrez.
- Schedules will change, because trips will take longer. “Travel time between the middle of downtown and Spokane Street did increase by 50 to 100 percent,” in Metro’s models, Bryant says. Metro hopes to improve travel times over previous viaduct closures. During the 2016 closure, that segment’s travel time consistently increased from 12 minutes to 24 minutes.
- Metro is adding service. Metro will have up to 20 buses at a time on standby, which will be dispatched “as needed to maintain capacity and when extreme delays occur,” Gutierrez says. The West Seattle Water Taxi will also add service with a new vessel. The circulator shuttle routes that serve the water taxi, 773 and 775, will each gain an extra vehicle during peak hours.
Which routes will be restructured
Bryant said twelve routes will be affected: 21 Express, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, and RapidRide C.
How West Seattle buses will cross Sodo
Buses will exit the West Seattle Bridge from the Spokane Street Viaduct at the 4th Avenue South exit. They will take two right turns and a left to enter the Sodo Busway from the offramp.
SDOT will make changes to improve mobility at the 4th Avenue South exit, Gutierrez says:
“SDOT will temporarily extend the eastbound bus-only lane on the West Seattle Bridge to the 4th Avenue off-ramp intersection. The off-ramp is two lanes, one of which will be bus-only. On the northbound approach to Spokane Street, the through lane adjacent to the right-turn-only lane will be designated as a bus-only lane temporarily.”
At the north end of the busway, buses will turn left onto Royal Brougham Way, and right onto 4th Avenue South.
“SDOT will temporarily make westbound Royal Brougham Way west of 6th Avenue bus-only to help facilitate this movement,” says Gutierrez.
Buses will then enter the 3rd Avenue Transit Mall via Prefontaine Place.
Southbound/towards West Seattle
Southbound buses will exit the 3rd Avenue Transit Mall via a right turn onto James Street. They will turn left onto the 2nd Avenue Extension and merge onto 4th Avenue South.
Vehicles will then traverse the Edgar Martinez Drive overpass and turn left onto 1st Avenue South, and enter the West Seattle Bridge via the Spokane Viaduct onramp.
Metro’s map shows two southbound alternatives in orange:
- Columbia Street: Buses would exit the 3rd Avenue Transit Mall via a right turn onto Columbia Street, then turn left onto Alaskan Way, and continue onto East Marginal Way S, via a bus-only connection between Alaskan Way and Marginal Way that WSDOT will build. Buses would turn right onto Spokane Street and traverse the Spokane Swing Bridge to West Seattle. This route would only be used in the afternoon. (According to Metro, port freight traffic causes too much congestion for buses to use the street in the morning.)
- Edgar Martinez & East Marginal Way: This route would diverge from the primary option at Edgar Martinez Drive. Instead of turning left onto 1st Avenue South and traversing the West Seattle Bridge, buses would pass 1st and turn left onto East Marginal Way S via the Atlantic Street overpass, and turn right onto Spokane Street and traverse the Spokane Swing bridge.