The BRT station at NE 44th in Renton (image: WSDOT)

In October, WSDOT awarded the contract for the widening of I-405 between Bellevue and Renton. With significant construction beginning in the Spring, that kicks off construction on the first capital elements of I-405 BRT South. Meanwhile, WSDOT and Sound Transit have been making complementary investments along the corridor that continue to raise expectations for the success of the BRT. Recent briefings in Renton and Bellevue bring us up to speed on how the project is developing.

Direct access ramps and BRT stations on I-405, funded or existing in green, unfunded in blue (image: WSDOT)

In 2019, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 5825, making permanent the toll authorization for I-405 and SR 167 (and authorizing tolling for the Gateway facility in Pierce and South King County). The legislation also redefined I-405 and SR 167 as a single corridor with one account for toll revenue. Bonding was authorized for ETL toll revenues. The effect is to accelerate projects along the corridor. Most consequential for transit users is the second express lane north of Bothell which will enable dramatically faster bus operations in that area once combined with a Sound Transit project to add direct access lanes to Brickyard.

With toll funding confirmed and accelerated via bonding, several projects can move ahead to get the BRT delivered on schedule. The highway between Bellevue and Renton will be widened so it has two express toll lanes (one new lane and one converted from HOV-2), and will also add auxiliary lanes between exits in some areas. Preliminary work starts next week on several miles of paved trail that WSDOT is building along the Eastrail (Eastside Rail Corridor) including a crossing of I-405 that will open in 2021.

Also starting shortly is a BRT station and direct access ramps at NE 44th St in North Renton. This is an ST3 project funded by Sound Transit, though the cost is lower than a stand-alone project because Sound Transit only has to cover the incremental costs of adding the station and ramps to the highway widening project.

The neighborhood around that station site isn’t particularly promising for transit today, but ridership will be boosted somewhat by 200 stalls of planned parking at the “Pan Abode” site on the SE corner. At the Renton meeting, Sound Transit staff mentioned discussions with Vulcan which owns the property. There were few details, but discussions about something more development-friendly than 200 surface stalls appear to be ongoing. Renton also favors including TOD along with the parking. That might mean a partnership that fits the transit parking within some larger development.

In South Renton, Sound Transit is in the process of acquiring the old Sound Ford property for the future South Renton Transit Center. The transit center will have 700 parking stalls and eight bus bays as well as bus layover space and a drop off area.

Preferred layout for the South Renton Transit Center (image: Sound Transit)

The site will also accommodate two acres of TOD on the west side of the property. The South Renton TC is envisioned as the likely future light rail station location. The parking structure and planned TOD are oriented east-west to accommodate the likeliest future orientation of a line from West Seattle. A study of this potential rail extension was funded in ST3.

Bus access to the transit center will be via Rainier Ave, with bus-only and BAT lanes at key bottlenecks between the station and the freeway. An alternative southbound path via Talbot and Grady was studied and performed poorly in AM peak traffic.

Planned South Renton Transit Center with parking structure in gray and potential future TOD in yellow (image: Sound Transit)

At 112th Ave SE in far-south Bellevue, WSDOT recently decided to add direct access ramps to the I-405 ETL project. That could allow another BRT station if Sound Transit funds the stops (probably an inexpensive addition as WSDOT is funding the ramp access). Sound Transit is currently evaluating the costs and ridership there. A transit stop on the ramps would allow BRT and Metro buses to serve the Metro-operated Newport Hills P&R without exiting the ETL. Currently, the stops are on the outside, and the 2020 service change will see some Sound Transit express buses skipping this P&R because it adds so much delay for through-riders.

Sound Transit may add another BRT station near the Newport Hills P&R in South Bellevue (image: WSDOT)

Sound Transit and WSDOT together are making a larger investment in the express toll lanes than was expected even a year or two ago. The 2019 Legislature’s funding of the second ETL north of Bothell, together with investments by both agencies in direct access ramps to the ETL, promise much more robust BRT operations than envisioned by the ST3 program in 2016. Even more direct access facilities are contemplated. An extension of the NE 6th St overpass to 116th Ave NE is funded in Bellevue, and design is funded for direct access at NE 8th. BRT ridership estimates are up 22% in the south and about 30% better in the north vs the ST3 representative project. The ST3 plan envisioned a less built out ETL with buses operating in general traffic in more places.

WSDOT investments on I-405 are contributing to much faster expected travel times on transit when the BRT opens in 2024 (image: Sound Transit)

73 Replies to “I-405 BRT South moves forward”

  1. “ The South Renton TC is envisioned as the likely future light rail station location. The parking structure and planned TOD are oriented east-west to accommodate the likeliest future orientation of a line from West Seattle. A study of this potential rail extension was funded in ST3.”

    I must take issue with this. Just because it was studied several years ago does not equal any commitment to eventually provide light rail. The parking garage orientation has nothing to do with adding light rail in the future. The site plan figure doesn’t even show any possible light rail station location! This paragraph appears so unsubstantiated that it looks silly.

    Perhaps more relevant is that the South Renton stop is badly sited for 405 BRT project. The public is spending hundreds of millions to add stops in Newport that will admittedly serve few riders while this huge park-and-ride facility is not directly served from 405. That suggests that the South Bellevue site is in the wrong place — sited first without considering how 405 buses would get there, as well as how the project is developed without objective logic.

    The corridor diagram also is somewhat deceiving. The 405-167 ramps will not serve 405 STRide; why is there not a STRide Line using this? Neither will an eastbound access from NE 6th in Downtown Bellevue; if anything, this connection will make STRide more difficult because it adds vehicles and conflicting movements to two STRide lines.

    1. It looks to me like the Renton Transit Center is quite close to 405. The only thing it is missing (from what I can tell) is an HOV ramp. If it had that, it would be very similar to the Lynnwood TC.

    2. As far as the 405-167 interchange is concerned, you are right, it has nothing to do with I-405 BRT. But it does improve buses going that direction. Right now the only buses that do that are the 952 and 567. There could be more (or those could run more often) in the future. I would imagine those buses will start using the new freeway bus stops.

      1. The currently-planned South King restructure deletes the 952.

        The 567 stays, but it’s a pity they couldn’t enable it to quickly serve South Renton TC.

      2. The 567 stays, but it’s a pity they couldn’t enable it to quickly serve South Renton TC.

        I think that is one of the drawbacks to the HOV interchange. It will make it much faster to get from Kent to Bellevue, but you end up skipping the main stop in Renton. It probably would have made more sense to build HOV lanes from 167 all the way into the Renton TC, and then have HOV ramps connecting 405 to the Renton TC. That would have improved the speed on both routes, connected the two routes more efficiently, and served Renton better.

        The main beneficiaries of the new interchange will likely be HOV users. To be fair, it is quite possible they would outnumber bus riders even if they made it ideal for the buses.

    3. The NE 6th access is mainly for the B-Line and other local buses. The B is regularly delayed at the NE 8th interchange as it is; it’d be great to get it out of there.

      I entirely agree about the South Renton TC. The Newport spending should be redirected to that higher-priority place.

      1. I don’t think the B-line would benefit much from it except in the eastbound direction. It can’t use it westbound, since it would enter Bellevue TC from the wrong side, and it can’t turn around inside BTC.

      2. Frankly, the B-Line needs it more westbound. Eastbound coming north on 112th, it’s already out of the worst traffic.

        The Bellevue TMP has the B-Line go straight westbound into Bellevue TC, and then extend to Bellevue Square (looping on 4th – Bellevue Way – 2nd – 105th). I think that’s an excellent extension and I look forward to seeing it on the ground.

    4. The preparation for future light rail is confusing to me. I think I remember something about the Federal Way TC and Redondo Heights P&R also being designed with light rail in mind (not 100% sure), but the actual light rail path skipped Redondo Heights completely, and has to serve Federal Way TC at a completely different angle. That said, if it’s easy to design it as such and doesn’t add any significant cost or inconvenience, I see nothing wrong with it. The old car dealership certainly provides enough space.

      I think the issue with South Renton would be very difficult to make good for BRT, so is forgivable for being as bad as it is. It’s also worth noting that this may be a source of a lot of ridership, so in cases like that it warrants getting off the freeway more than a source of smaller ridership (like 44th or 112th). Compared to the current service pattern in Renton, this will definitely be a nice improvement.

      I think you’re also missing the point of the 112th Ave direct access ramps (next to Newport Hills P&R). It’s not meant to be like S. Bellevue P&R, otherwise bus access would have been even higher priority. The ramps themselves are a WSDOT thing, meant for cars, and ST is considering just adding a bus stop there since it might as well.

      Similarly with the 167-405 direct access ramp, this is also a WSDOT thing. It doesn’t serve Stride, but it is actually complete and does help ST Express 567 dramatically, since it doesn’t need to weave through lots of SOVs to get to the right-side exit to/from 167. The 567 is planned to stay in the future (since it’s a Sounder connector). Other projects mentioned like the Gateway project is also not likely to be served directly by transit just because it doesn’t work well for a transit route.

      1. “ I think the issue with South Renton would be very difficult to make good for BRT, so is forgivable for being as bad as it is.”

        No it’s not forgivable. If it’s bad for BRT, it should have never been chosen in the first place!

        There was not a study of possible locations for this garage near 405. There was no assessment of other locations, like the unused big box lot (former Sam’s?) at Grady Way/ Talbot Road or the King County Elections site at Grady Way/ Powell Avenue for example. Even a configuration to feed a site between Tukwila Amtrak/ Sounder and 405 could have been considered. Leaders got together and picked the site without study or objective consideration about how 405 buses would access it quickly.

        In other words, it’s pork. You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.

      2. Why would it be any quicker to access Grady and Talbot, or Grady and Powell? It looks to me like you end up going through the traffic light at Grady and Rainier with any of those options. The option that seems like it would work really well is if they put the station south of Grady, then added HOV ramps in all directions. That was likely way too expensive.

    5. The City of Renton insisted on the South Renton P&R location for the transit center. It also complained loudly that Renton hadn’t gotten its share of ST investment and it’d better get something substantial in ST3, and this transit center would satisfy it. ST defers first to the cities anyway and doesn’t like to oppose them because they control the permits and streets and zoning. So Renton strong-armed ST into this location, and WSDOT was probably happy because it wouldn’t have to build an extra ramp.

      The current transit center location would require the bus to make a long detour on city streets like the 560 does now, and Renton didn’t offer any other location. The P&R was chosen because it’s close to 405 and already publicly-owned, so that would avoid land-acquisition costs. When did Sam’s Club close? Was it still open when ST planned the line in the mid 2000s? That may have been part of it. The same thing happened at Mt Baker Station, where UW Laundry blocked a transit center at the station but now UW Laundry is leaving.

      Renton has long-term geographic problems so it’s unclear there’s any location that would be great. It’s a knot of three highways converging, and a station at 405 would require a bridge over Grady Way for pedestrians or buses, so it would inevitably have been a significant detour.

  2. They’re putting it in the wrong place. It should be at the former Sam’s Club site.

    There it would be directly adjacent to the freeway where i’m sure they could figure out an inline bus stop instead of having to slog through possibly the worst intersection in western washington – Rainier and Grady.

    A Sam’s Club site would also be extremely convenient for commuters to access city hall and the triton towers complex.

  3. I can personally see myself using this to go to the airport; I think it would be faster than going into Seattle and switching trains. I hope they don’t cheap out on off peak frequency, though. If it doesn’t run more often than the 560, it won’t work. I generally prefer flights that return to Seattle on Sunday nights, so I get the full weekend at wherever I’m visiting, so off peak frequency matters a lot for those return trips.

    1. You’ll still need to switch to a train at TIBS. It’s also a significant vertical distance at TIBS. STRide as planned goes to Burien instead of the Airport.

      1. The 560 isn’t likely to go away. I could easily see it being streamlined, making only freeway stops between SeaTac and Bellevue. That would mean a two seat ride from Renton to SeaTac, but there aren’t that many people who do that (at most 80 people).

      2. I don’t see how the 560 could *not* go away. It’s redundant, it’s less frequent than the STRIDE, and its ridership is not all that great. Yes, I’m aware there’s a transfer at TIBS. But it still seems faster than going through Seattle. Just look at the map and count the total number of miles to travel.

        Maybe, ST will keep a peak hour express between Bellevue and north Renton, to cover that part of the 560, but I highly doubt they would run it all day. And they certainly won’t run a redundant line all day, just to provide a one seat ride to the airport. Just the traffic getting to the airport bus stop is already enough of a delay to make the Link transfer at TIBS a wash.

      3. “The 560 isn’t likely to go away.”

        It probably will. Stride seems to be a replacement for the 535 and 560. They couldn’t afford Link so they’re going with BRT, and ST Express is an interim service until then. There could be some peak-only super-expresses, but that would more likely be Auburn-Bellevue not Burien-Bellevue.

      4. Keep in mind that if you are in the Spring District, Overlake or Redmond, you would need to exit the train, go up an escalator, cross 110th and catch a bus in Downtown Bellevue to use any 405 South bus. For those riders, just staying on a Link train to ID and transferring to a frequent train there seems to be the most reasonable way to make that trip.

      5. There are several parts to the 560. Westwood Village to Burien seems like it will go away, being replaced by Metro service. Burien to SeaTac probably isn’t worth it. Bellevue to SeaTac is still a worthy connection, and this BRT will be significantly slower. Not only will the BRT stop in Renton, but you have the transfer as well. I could see them running just an express between those two places. That would be a much cheaper bus than what they run today. It wouldn’t surprise me if they only run it peak direction though. That is the only time the bus is full. I would increase the frequency though — half hour during peak is really bad. If they just run it every 15 minutes it would compete well with the BRT, and save riders heading from Bellevue to SeaTac (or Bellevue to southern Link areas) a lot of time.

      6. If it’s full peak hours, it’s probably people living in Renton going to Bellevue for work. The airport is a nearly 24/7 operations and is unlikely to have more demand during rush hour than midday.

        Fair point about Spring District/Redmond, but I’d be coming from Kirkland, so it’s a transfer anyway. I could do it at UW station, but Bellevue Transit Center has many more options for buying food to take on the plane. Airport food is low quality and expensive.

      7. The 560 is definitely going away. Per the draft SIP, ST plans on keeping the 566 at peak for north Renton, freeway stations to Bellevue.

        Draft SIP also contemplates extending ST 574 to Westwood Village to fill in part of the gap left by the 560.

        So yes, there is a forced transfer for airport passengers. Though it will slow down travel to the airport a bit, it will dramatically speed things up for through riders from Burien. And airport to Bellevue will still be much faster even with the transfer. This is due to the fact that the 560 takes almost an hour to do this trip, since it makes a lot of stops in Renton and on I-405. STRide will make a single stop in South Renton, and freeway stops will be limited to ETL direct access ramps, a dramatic improvement over the 560’s freeway stops on the right side.

      8. “Spring District, Overlake or Redmond”

        Wilburton Station will probably become a popular B+Link transfer point to avoid the Bellevue TC walking overhead. Some people in the “Spring District” or “Overlake” will be close enough to NE 8th Street or Crossroads to make this feasible. From Redmond you could take the B but it’s a long way, so you’d probably take Link and transfer in Seattle. Or you could take whatever the NE 85th Street route is to Stride North and transfer to Stride South at Bellevue TC without a significant walk.

        “There are several parts to the 560. Westwood Village to Burien seems like it will go away, being replaced by Metro service. Burien to SeaTac probably isn’t worth it.”

        Burien looks like it will lose the 180 and have no replacement until 2040. It will have Stride+Link and F+Link via TIB. Burien is a small city with nothing beyond it, so it arguably doesn’t need a one-seat ride to the airport. The F’s Burien-TIB route is fast because there are few cross streets or houses due to the airport boundary. Metro’s 2040 plan restores the one-seat ride with an Express from the West Seattle Junction to Burien, SeaTac, KDM, and Kent.

        “Bellevue to SeaTac is still a worthy connection, and this BRT will be significantly slower.”

        ST asked the community whether Stride should go to SeaTac or Burien, and the majority said Burien because it has little regional transit and SeaTac Stride would overlap with Link. The 560’s current travel time is 24 minutes at noon, 59 minutes at 5pm. Stride+Link will be, er, 42 minutes minus Burien plus Link, which is about 42 minutes. In exchange it will be much more frequent and it will get out of most of Renton’s traffic. That will reduce waiting and impatience and increase reliability. It’s not much different from the 51x’s replacement by Link, which is in the midrange of ST Express’s travel time and has the same advantages and disadvantages.

      9. “The 560’s current travel time is 24 minutes at noon, 59 minutes at 5pm.”

        Checked that out, actually looks like it’s 39 minutes at noon (I think you timed it to Renton TC by mistake). In any case, I think Stride will be faster off peak than peak, but not by as much. Off peak, Stride will probably be able to go from S. Renton to Bellevue in 15 minutes, vs maybe 20 peak if the ETL lanes are as good as they should be.

      10. Oh, sorry, I was counting 30 + 1 – 7 but that’s inaccurate, It’s 30 + 1 + 8 (15 to 45, plus 1 for 46, plus 8 to get from 15 to 7). So 39 minutes makes it really close to the Stride time, and the Link segment is only 90 seconds more. That’s at midday. In the PM peak the 560 is significantly slower.

      11. If it’s full peak hours, it’s probably people living in Renton going to Bellevue for work. The airport is a nearly 24/7 operations and is unlikely to have more demand during rush hour than midday.

        Hard to say, really. There are about 126 people that use the “SeaTac” bus stop, and another 126 who use the one on 176th and International Boulevard. My guess is that there are some people who commute by plane, and need to work in Bellevue. There are also people who take other buses that connect at the airport. Some of those buses keep going to Tukwila, some don’t.

        It comes down to speed, really. Do you gain much with a bypass. Lots of people are saying that serving Renton will be really slow for through riders. The bus leaves the HOV lanes, gets off the freeway using the regular ramps, stops at a traffic light, drops people off, then does all of that in reverse. If you are on Link coming from Federal Way, would it be faster to catch an “express” that bypasses that, or is it just as bad to leave from the airport? If the “express” (skipping Renton) isn’t any faster, then there is no point.

        If, on the other hand, it saves a significant amount of time, then it would make sense to run it when the “regular” bus is crowded. The alternative is to add extra buses on the regular route. At a certain point, you gain nothing by adding more regular buses, and want an express. An express from Burien (that skips Renton) would have some value, except it has very few riders. An express from SeaTac would provide some riders with a very fast trip, and take the load off of the BRT. It is similar to the E and the 301. The 301 takes some of the pressure off of the E, saves some riders a transfer, and provides others with an express. It likely saves Metro some money, because the alternative (running the E more often) is more expensive. If this BRT project becomes really popular, then it is likely that rush hour trips (to downtown Bellevue) will dominate, and buses like SeaTac to Bellevue (with freeway stops) would make a lot of sense.

    2. BRT should had decent off peak frequency. With the transfer, may not be faster than Link if you are leaving from downtown Bellevue, but if you are closer to some of the other stride stations yeah it should be faster than going through downtown Bellevue

  4. Why 112th, WSDOT? seems like Coal Creek would be much more useful, much more density on the south end of Factoria.

    I guess if WSDOT needs to rebuild the bridge anyways when adding the 2 new HOT lanes, the incremental cost of direct access isn’t much?

  5. Is this just freeway widening greenwashed as “multimodal”?

    > For the last 15 years, we’ve focused on addressing the worst chokepoints first in Bellevue, Bothell, Kirkland and Renton. After several years of study, we also received Legislative direction to build express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood on I-405.

    How about some Legislative direction to upzone the entire county and make it less car dependent so we don’t need these expanded freeways?

    (Disclosure – I’ve used I-405 about three times)

    1. We have to beg WSDOT to get anything transit-related, and the best we can get is inline bus stops and HOT lanes as part of a freeway widening. The legislature isn’t greenwashing it; it’s saying it’s a highway expansion project and the transit amenities are just small add-ons. The entire reason 405 is being widened is car drivers are demanding more lanes, and legislators are sympathetic to that. It wouldn’t be happening for just an HOV lane and inline bus stops. And if it were, you’d hear complaints that that’s an inppropriate use for gas-tax money and (they’d claim) unconstitutional.

      “How about some Legislative direction to upzone the entire county and make it less car dependent so we don’t need these expanded freeways?”

      I wish. Hopefully a future generation of legislators and governor will do this. Paris has prirotized cars last and is actively removing 200 parking spaces per year even if it’s not part of a larger project, and is building BRT arterials and other multimodal amenities as needed. If Washington committed to this and more-frequent Cascades and Sounder we’d be better off. Someday. You can’t assume the legislature will never change its mind, only that it’s unlikely to do so in the near future. It has been getting slightly better; I think it did some good things in the last session although I don’t remember the details.

    1. Here’s what we got in August. It looks like it will go north on Talbot/Benson, west on Grady Way to the transit center (called P&R in the map), and further west to Rainier Ave and up to the old transit center (current transit center). So the main difference from the 167 would be ditching the Shattuck Ave segment north of the P&R. (And by experience, that’s slow.) The City of Renton is planning to modify 2nd and 3rd Streets and make them smaller and two-way, so that may help bus thoroughput?

  6. So in that top post drawing of the BRT station at 44th, there’s a bus going off to the right. So, I take it, this station is not going to be a flyer stop, but the 405 BRT bus will actually turn off onto some side road, and that’s where the station will be? Why not an above the freeway flyer stop, like at Eastgate or Totem Lake? I hope I’m wrong about this. Seems like a waste, at this location, to get completely off the freeway.

    1. it looks like there is a double lane, and sidewalks leading to it, in the middle of the in-line ramp, so that is where I presume the bus would stop. (It doesn’t look like a very pleasant place to walk to or wait though… )

      Buses crossing from Kennydale and heading up into Newcastle would have to stop somewhere else.

      But yes, if the bus has to get completely off the freeway that would be stupid.

      (Is there a bus that goes across 44th now?)

    2. It will be a flyer stop. 44th is a significant part of the cost of Stride in Renton, so they’re redoing the interchange. The left-right arrows are probably just to show there’s a street there, not a commitment to a bus route. Any bus route would be Metro’s decision. Metro’s 2024 plan does have a coverage route, Renton – Newport Hills, on Lake Wash Blvd, 44th Station, southeast on Monterey Pl, north on 116th, east on Newcastle Way, to a point on the Renton-Bellevue RapidRide (a la 240).

    3. Stride is definitely not turning off of the freeway at NE 44th (if it were, there’d be no point in having the online stop). WSDOT renderings of future freeway interchanges aren’t that descriptive of future bus operations.

      1. The Stride is through running on the center lanes with the stops on the center ramps in foreground. The bus going off to the right is some hoped-for local service, or a graphic artist’s expectation thereof.

  7. Any idea how people would actually get to those Stride bus stops in the middle of the expressway at the Renton NE 44th ST “station”? There don’t appear to be any bus bays for local busses and ride hailing pickups and dropoffs. The parking and possibly TOD would be located on the southeast corner of the roundabout on the east side? Crossing the highway on/off ramps will likely be a major turn-off, especially if the inner on/off ramps also carry express HOV lane car traffic, which presumably they would, turning it in to two on/off ramp crossings. If this is representative of most Stride “stations,” it could be a problem. Perhaps it illustrates well how difficult it really is to run a bona-fide BRT system on an expressway built primarily for cars.

    1. P.S. It also occurred to me that the BRT “station” doesn’t appear to have anything in terms of station amenities. Is this simply because the planning hasn’t gotten that far, or does it mean garden variety ST express bus stops? Are pre-paid fares even going to be standard at the BRT stations? Covered walkways between the garage/TOD and the station?

    2. From the article: “Bus access to the transit center will be via Rainier Ave, with bus-only and BAT lanes at key bottlenecks between the station and the freeway.” So the bus will detour to local streets, it will be much shorter than the current 560, and we have to hope that the transit/BAT lanes will be effective.

      It’s less than optimal, but the entire transit center location is a City of Renton thing. Either the bus has to go to the transit center or people will have a long walk across a pedestrian bridge over Grady Way to get to other buses or their car. Either way it’s long.

      “If this is representative of most Stride “stations,””

      No. Renton TC is unique because of its location.

      “It also occurred to me that the BRT “station” doesn’t appear to have anything in terms of station amenities. Is this simply because the planning hasn’t gotten that far, or does it mean garden variety ST express bus stops? Are pre-paid fares even going to be standard at the BRT stations? Covered walkways between the garage/TOD and the station?”

      It will be a transit center like Bellevue TC or Lynnwood TC. I haven’t seen a list of amenities yet. I assume it will have off-board payment because both Swift and RapidRide have had it for years. It seems silly to spend millions on a BRT line and not spend a few thousand for ORCA readers at all stations. Especially since off-board payment speeds up boarding, which is part of the reason for BRT. It’s supposed to be a poor man’s light rail.

      1. I think Brandon was asking about the station at 44th.

        I agree with him. There isn’t much there, there. Getting to the inline station looks uncomfortably long at best, or dangerous at worse as you have to cross freeway on and off ramps.

        Once you get to the inline stop you’re stuck out in the middle of the freeway with nothing to protect you from the elements.

        If ST hasn’t put anything out there regarding the rider experience at this station then they need to do so asap!

      2. Oh, I read it wrong. The non-TC stations may be just like a RapidRide stop. Although WSDOT put covered waiting areas at Yarrow Point and Mountlake Terrace, and Mountlake Terrace has a covered walkway to the P&R, so that may be what they’re doing generally now. I don’t think there should be a 44th Station in the first place; there’s not a large enough neighborhood to justify it. 85th Station is for downtown Kirkland; Totem Lake Station is for Totem Lake; Brickyard Station is for the apartments there. 44th doesn’t have anything like that, just people driving from houses who have to leave the area for everything.

      3. Don’t forget that 44th has the VMAC. I’m sure all of the football players are salivating at the chance to improve their commute by taking BRT to work! Or maybe not… heh

        but seriously, it should be helpful for fans to get there during spring training when they open the practice sessions to the public to see.

      4. My guess is that it is designed to have feeder service when you can’t quite justify a bus all the way to your destination (likely downtown Bellevue). It also opens up the possibility of overlapping buses, each one using the freeway station. In that regard it seems like overkill — I don’t think you need two freeway stations between 30th and Coal Creek Parkway. I suppose it does reduce the backtracking if you take a future 567, but want to go Renton. Even with that, it would involve going five miles each direction (ten miles round trip).

        So it is mainly designed (I assume) to offer connecting bus service that currently doesn’t exist. I think this is reasonable. If you are in East Renton — an area with moderate density: https://arcg.is/1SOHjH, then your options for getting to Bellevue are pretty bad. Your best bet is to catch the 240 and then the 560. Except the Renton part of the 560 is going away. That means that your only option is to slog all the way to the South Renton Transit Center, or slog all the way on the 240 up to Bellevue. This could help things. I could imagine a bus route like this, for example: https://goo.gl/maps/YZc2sLAhfCMtg7jDA. That might work.

        Then again, it might not. I pity the folks at Metro who have to work with that station. The crossing street is also an on-ramp. There aren’t enough people to justify all-day service. During rush hour, the alternative driving routes (like the one on the map) are crowded, and there aren’t HOV ramps to provide an alternative.

        It would have made more sense to build a bus station at NE 3rd (https://goo.gl/maps/RERg8vGdysWGHxs48). It is one of the few underpasses that also doesn’t have on-ramps. It connects well with the density on East Renton, and the rest of Renton. It actually has an existing bus, and an all-day one at that (the 105). Putting a station there — connecting to Renton Highlands (East Renton) on one end, and Renton TC (downtown Renton) on the other would have worked out nicely.

        All this talk about the “Renton Station” station being too far from the freeway kind of misses the big story here. It isn’t that big a deal that the Renton stop will delay Burien riders. It is that, once again, Renton got screwed. A stop that connects with the main bus route in town — enabling fast and frequent service to Bellevue from Renton — won’t exist. This means that the 105 won’t get a big ridership boost (and thus won’t get a big frequency boost). If anything, it will suffer as service is split between it and some bus headed to 44th. Yuck.

      5. If you’re trying to get to Gene Coulon, The Landing, or Southport (and southport might be big if the new office complex gets all leased out)..

        how does one get there from Bellevue? Take Stride to 44th and a local bus along lake washington boulevard, or take Stride to the Renton TC and backtrack to the north on a bus from there?

      6. “once again, Renton got screwed.”

        Renton screwed itself. It was the city of Renton that insisted on this location.

      7. Rather than 3rd, the Bellevue presentation (slide 19) shows an unfunded inline station at N 8th, which should work ok, if you can build stairs that connect to NE 7th up the incline?

        For something like East Renton, I think I’d run the 111 as-is and just truncate at 44th … The roundabouts should make a live loop straightforward. You can always run a 111X that goes all the way to BTC during peak to avoid the transfer penalty for most riders, and truncate off-peak so save service hours on a route that gets only moderate ridership off-peak.

        A benefit of the BRT infrastructure is you can overlay routes on 405 at peak when high ridership justifies it, and then revert to a spine and transfer at other times. At peak, a STRIDE bus and a 111 bus are probably both full heading in the primary commute direction, so you probably cannot force a transfer anyways.

        I’m less familiar with 405, bit This isn’t that different from how I 90 works, where the 21X series “overlays” the 554 with alternative endpoints during peak, and off-peak the 554 is the lone route providing coverage and span of service.

      8. The N 8th plan is for a direct access ramp rather than an inline station, though there’s plenty of time to ask for that, and Renton probably should if the cost not too steep.

        It was funded for design in this year’s legislative session (ESSB 5825). Design to start 2023, construction complete 2027 if funding can be found.

        N 8th certainly seems a more logical place for connections from downtown or freeway access from downtown than the NE 44th stop.

      9. Renton screwed itself. It was the city of Renton that insisted on this location.

        Are you saying the city of Renton chose to put in a new inline station at 44th instead of 3rd? Really?

      10. The South Renton station was included in the first draft of ST3 projects. The NE 44th station was added in the final list after Renton objected to only having one station within the city. N 8th was never a part of that discussion.
        http://www.rentonreporter.com/news/city-council-formally-requests-amendments-to-st3-package/

        Direct access at N 8th St was a Sound Move project which they never got around to building. At Renton’s request, it was swapped out in order to build the South Renton station.
        http://www.rentonreporter.com/news/mayor-proposes-moving-transit-center-to-rainier-and-grady/

      11. A benefit of the BRT infrastructure is you can overlay routes on 405 at peak when high ridership justifies it, and then revert to a spine and transfer at other times. At peak, a STRIDE bus and a [direct bus to downtown Seattle or Bellevue] are probably both full heading in the primary commute direction, so you probably cannot force a transfer anyways.

        Exactly.

        For something like East Renton, I think I’d run the 111 as-is and just truncate at 44th …

        Right, except that means a brand new, all-day bus route in the middle of nowhere. Where is that money going to come from? If, by some miracle, they manage to afford a bus running every half hour, it still means running a bus every half hour to the middle of nowhere. They have spread themselves too thin.

        In contrast, imagine if the stop was really at 3rd. During rush hour, they continue with the 111. The rest of the day, any additional money goes into increasing frequency on the 105. Right now it runs every half hour. Instead of creating a brand new, infrequent route to 44th, they beef up the best bus in the area by giving it 15 minute frequency. Riders on the 105 get a frequent trip on the existing route, along with a frequent connection to 405. Ridership on the 105 — which is above average — goes sky high. Everyone wins.

        But instead they will spend their money building a park and ride for 200 riders.

      12. Dan is right; the direct access ramp at 8th was one of the projects designated for Renton in Sound Move. The history of the project/funding is a little tricky to follow. I think a good recap can be found in the staff report that accompanies ST board resolution R2005-19. I believe the original lifetime committment from ST was just shy of $90M, but that was later altered through the adopted amendment. Another good source to understand the history would be the settlement agreement between Renton and ST entered into that same year.

      13. “If you’re trying to get to Gene Coulon, The Landing, or Southport … how does one get there from Bellevue? Take Stride to 44th and a local bus along lake washington boulevard, or take Stride to the Renton TC and backtrack to the north on a bus from there?”

        If the 8th Street station is funded you’ll get off there and you’ll be at The Landing. It’s too early to say whether it will be. If not, the 240 goes to The Landing and is planned for RapidRide. It currently terminates at the downtown transit center but I assume it would be extended to the new transit center so you can transfer there. There may be additional routes between the transit center and Boeing for more frequency. If you get off at 44th, Metro’s 2024 plan says you’ll have a half-hourly coverage route to the waterfront and landing. That may not be appealing, both because it’s infrequent and because a local route may be slower than the alternatives.

      14. Small correction to my earlier post:

        The settlement agreement among ST, Renton and Tukwila was finalized in Sep 2002. The 2005 agreement which changed things yet again was part of the Joint HOV and Transit Action plan,
        completed in April 2005.

      15. If not, the 240 goes to The Landing and is planned for RapidRide.

        Is Metro just randomly turning bus routes into RapidRide? Here are the number of riders per hour for the 105 and 240, with rush hour times listed first:

        105: 30.2, 20.7
        240: 21.6, 18.5

        The 105, by the way, is in the top 25% in both categories, while the 240 is simply average (for a suburban bus). The 105 greatly exceeds the 240 in terms of riders per hour, despite the fact that the 240 serves downtown Bellevue. If any bus gets a bump in frequency, it should be the 105.

        But it should also be connected to the I-405 bus (since it will literally go right underneath it). But the only way to do that is extend this bus (using money that would otherwise go into improving frequency) to the South Renton TC. That means someone from East Renton (where most of the population density is) has to go under the freeway and go through just about all of downtown Renton before they can connect to a bus headed north. The alternative would to be build something like the old Rainier Avenue stop under I-90 (https://goo.gl/maps/aTe5FbLTB8J1Wf5v6) but with center freeway stops.

        It just seems like they ignored the value of crossing bus service. They are focused on park and ride users, and not building a functional transit network for the area. Then, in a fit of desperation, they pick a poorly performing route and call it RapidRide. Yeah, I realize I’m talking about different agencies when I say “they”, but that is part of the problem. There is little cooperation, and little attempt to make a comprehensive improvement in transit to the area, despite spending huge amounts of money on gigantic new interchanges and parking lots.

      16. “Renton screwed itself. It was the city of Renton that insisted on this location.”

        “Are you saying the city of Renton chose to put in a new inline station at 44th instead of 3rd? Really?”

        I’m talking about the transit center. I have no opinion on 44th other than that it’s an underperforming location like Medina. That’s so typical of suburban transit and land use that I wouldn’t single out this station over it.

        “Is Metro just randomly turning bus routes into RapidRide? Here are the number of riders per hour for the 105 and 240, with rush hour times listed first: 105: 30.2, 20.7; 240: 21.6, 18.5”

        The 105+106 is on the RapidRide list too (Highlands-Rainier Beach). I agree Metro is underserving the 105; there should be a frequent route in the eastern residential area where the bulk of residents live. Metro could extend the 106 there right now; well, if it had the money of course.

        RapidRide 240 seems to be about giving Renton a better local connection to Bellevue and Bellevue College. There’s not much in between, but still people have to cross it, and a lot of people aren’t on the Stride line. It will also improve service in part of the Highlands.

      17. “Are you saying the city of Renton chose to put in a new inline station at 44th instead of 3rd? Really?”

        I’m talking about the transit center.

        Yes, but everyone else is talking about the station at 44th. That is what this thread is about. Well, that, and the lack of a station at 4th. What I’m saying is that the decision to add a station at 44th — or rather, to NOT add a station at 4th — is terrible. It leaves all those riders without a good option for getting to Bellevue. It hurts ridership on both the BRT and the 105. That, in turn, will hurt any chance of improving frequency on the 105.

        The location of the transit center is a side issue. It really doesn’t matter where it is. Of course it is better if the BRT line can serve it without getting off the freeway, but that isn’t essential. BRT ramps are far more important. At that point it would function much like Bellevue Transit Center.

        But an inline bus stop does not have to be next to a transit center. It doesn’t have to be next to a huge parking garage. It just needs to be next to a popular bus route. That is what a station at 4th would be. The 105 has plenty of riders. Extending it south (to the other transit center) is not the end of the world. But expecting riders to then transfer to a BRT line heading back north is unlikely to happen. A stop at 4th would be like the Rainier Avenue stop. It isn’t a gigantic engineering project like NE 85th. You have a couple bus stops, a few pedestrian ramps, and that is it. As with the other projects, you build it as part of the road expansion. I’m not saying it is cheap, but it likely wouldn’t cost any more than 44th. But the result would be much better. Like Rainier Avenue, the popular buses don’t have to be altered at all to serve the station. Ridership goes up on both routes at no extra cost. This, in turn, justifies more frequent service on the 105, which in turn increases ridership on both routes again.

        Introducing a brand new station (at 44th) that currently *has no bus service* is the opposite of this. It means that you spread yourself too thin. Do you cut service on buses like the 105 and 240, so that you can create a new bus to an area with so little density that Metro doesn’t even serve it now? Or do you simply ignore it, and accept a station where almost all riders come from the (relatively small) parking lot? Either way the bulk of riders from Renton are simply out of luck. They got screwed, and it has more to do with the lack of a station at 4th than it has with the placement of the transit center.

      18. Route 240 is circuitous today, but in a post-East-Link world, it looks even worse. After passing through Factoria, you’re less than a 5-minute drive from South Bellevue Link Station, but in order to get to Link you have to first zig-zag east, then west, then north, then west again, before finally waiting for a long light to cross the street and ending up at East Main Station. The route essentially takes the biggest destination in the region – Seattle – and subordinates it in favor of a quicker ride to, not even downtown Bellevue, but Bellevue College.

        I’ve taken route 240 a few times to Newcastle (it’s one of the ways to get to Cougar Mountain by transit), and it’s exhausting. From downtown Seattle, it’s about an hour and a half, which means a whopping two hours from places such as Green Lake, Ballard, or West Seattle. Renton Highlands (where most of the ridership is) is even worse – from most of Seattle, you could get in a car and drive all the way to Bellingham in the time it takes to get to Renton Highlands on the bus.

        How to fix it? First, I think the 240 should spend less time in Newcastle by just staying on Coal Creek Parkway until Factoria Blvd. The residential neighborhoods of Newcastle is not where the ridership is, so it’s not worth delaying everyone else on an all-day bus in order to serve. Second, after Factoria, the bus should hop on I-90, and terminate at South Bellevue P&R, where riders can switch to Link to get to either Seattle or Bellevue/Redmond. For Bellevue College/Eastgate P&R, you either transfer to 245, or backtrack a bit and ride a truncated 554 from South Bellevue P&R. Not ideal, but with significantly faster trips to downtown Seattle, downtown Bellevue, and Microsoft/Redmond, the majority of the riders benefit from the change.

        Of course, such a change would have ripple effects. The 271 covers the downtown Bellevue->Bellevue College corridor, and already does it every 10-15 minutes weekday daytime hours. There is a tiny segment along Richards Road that would lose service if that section of the 240 went away, but maybe ridership there is tiny enough that it wouldn’t matter. And, of course, there’s the sections of Newcastle, west of Coal Creek Parkway, that would lose service. But, they’ve still got the 114. And, if the 114 were truncated to Mercer Island Link Station, instead of going all the way downtown, maybe it could run a better span of service and help mitigate the loss of the 240. (Weekends, they would probably have to drive to a P&R for service, but there’s tons of empty parking spaces then).

        But, in any case, doubling down on the existing 240 by making it RapidRide doesn’t make sense. Metro should be fixing the route, making it straighter and faster, instead.

      19. “The location of the transit center is a side issue. It really doesn’t matter where it is.”

        Yes it does. It matters what’s in walking distance, because people won’t have to transfer to get to those things, and they can stop somewhere for a short errand while they’re waiting or for a chain trip.

  8. Almost 20years after the final EIS, and they’re finally starting to add the GP Lanes.
    Ah, life in the Tax Free Zone.

    Based on a conversation at a King County Council meeting back at the turn of the century, where Dwight Pelz was grilling the program manager (Mike Cummings)for that project about how long the effects of ‘congestion relief’ will last with those extra lanes we can conclude that SOV drivers soon will bask in the open roads like it was 1999.

  9. “In South Renton, Sound Transit is in the process of acquiring the old Sound Ford property for the future South Renton Transit Center.”

    This part of the post perplexed me as I was the under the impression that the site acquisition was a top priority for ST way back in 2017. The board passed two resolutions back in July 2017 specifically related to the I-405 BRT project.

    Resolution 2017-25 was drafted to fund the property acquisitions in Renton and Canyon Park. It allocated $45M to the ROW component of the project budget well in advance of Phase Gate 1:

    “PROPOSED ACTION
    Amending the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit project by (a) increasing the adopted 2017 Annual Budget from $650,000 to $45,650,000 and (b) increasing the authorized project allocation to date in the amount of $45,000,000 for a total project allocation to date of $45,650,000.
    KEY FEATURES SUMMARY
    • This is a request to amend the adopted budget to provide funds to acquire property located in Renton for potential construction of a transit center and park-and-ride, and property located in Bothell (Canyon Park area) for potential construction of an operations and maintenance facility for the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit Project.
    • Sound Transit wishes to buy the properties now because of the threat of imminent development as the properties are currently being marketed for sale.
    • Board authorization is needed to amend the budget to acquire these properties for potential construction of the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit Project.
    • Sound Transit will complete environmental review for the project once it formally enters the Project Development phase.
    • If determined to be necessary, Sound Transit will seek federal approval to carry out “protective
    acquisitions” in advance of acquiring property, and Board authorization to acquire will be contingent on receiving any necessary approvals.”

    A corresponding measure, Resolution 2017-26 granted the agency the approval to acquire the needed properties:

    “PROPOSED ACTION
    Authorizes the chief executive officer to acquire certain real property interests, contingent on
    receipt of any necessary federal approvals, including acquisition by condemnation to the extent authorized by law, and to reimburse eligible relocation and reestablishment expenses incurred by affected owners and tenants as necessary for potential transit center and park-and-ride and operations and maintenance facility sites for the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit Project.
    KEY FEATURES SUMMARY
    • This action will authorize early acquisition of property located in Renton for potential construction of a transit center and park-and-ride, and property located in Bothell (Canyon Park area) for potential construction of an operations and maintenance facility for the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit Project.
    • Sound Transit wishes to buy the properties now because of the threat of imminent development as the properties are currently being marketed for sale.
    • Sound Transit will complete environmental review for the project once it formally enters the
    Project Development phase.
    • If determined to be necessary, Sound Transit will seek federal approval to carry out the “protective acquisitions” in advance of acquiring property, and Board authorization to acquire will be contingent on receiving any necessary approvals.
    • The real property identified in this action is included in Exhibit A.”

    “Exhibit A:
    1. RTN001, Sound Ford Inc., Parcel No. 1923059035, 750 Rainier Ave S.,
    Renton
    2. RTN002, Sound Ford Inc., Parcel No. 1923059063, 750 Rainier Ave S.,
    Renton
    3. RTN003, Sound Ford Inc., Parcel No. 1923059068, 200 S. Grady Way,
    Renton
    4. RTN004, Sound Ford Inc., Parcel No. 1923059074, 200 S. Grady Way,
    Renton
    5. XMB001, Immunex MFG Corp, Parcel No. 27052900200800, 21516 23RD Drive SE, Bothell, WA 98021”

    Then there was this little tidbit added as a note to Appendix E of the 2019 Financial Plan and Adopted Budget:

    “3. Updated Project Cash Flows Based on Actual Expenditures in 2018

    “500050 – I-405 BRT, $73,475 ($000s, 2019 Proposed), $94,475 ($000s, 2019 Revised), $21,000 ($000s, Difference), Comment: Originally anticipated property acquisition of Sound Ford to occur in
    2018 to occur in 2019.”

    So much for the early acquisition. This could be costly to the ROW budget. So what happened? Did ST run into compliance issues with FTA guidelines for early acquisitions? Did ST’s ROW team drop the ball?

    Any additional info, Dan? Thanks.

    1. They did say they have control of the site and are on-location; the sale just hasn’t closed. Don’t know why it would be such an extended process, but very likely the sales terms were agreed with some contingency at the time of the motion you’re referencing.

      1. Thanks. It’s probably a situation whereby the property owner signed off on an immediate possession and use order. Looking at the King County tax records it looks like that happened sometime in 2017 as ST has been listed as the taxpayer, and the accounts exempt, for assessment years 2018 and 2019 (tax years 2019 and 2020).

        In 2017, the four parcels collectively were valued at $11,212,800. The latest assessment has the four parcels at $12,683,600, an increase of nearly $1.5M (13%) in that two-year period.

        It will be interesting to learn what ST ultimately ends up paying for the combined parcels.

        Fwiw, WA DOE lists six underground tanks (three unleaded gasoline, three used oil) as registered/inactive under Sound Ford at this site, but all six have since been removed. Let’s hope there are no surprises there.

  10. All these comments are whack. I drive 405 like an idiot every day and you want to get rid of my only chance of good bus service. Good idea. The location is perfectly fine. Yes, direct access will be weird but that’s it.

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