Some fixes to transit delays are expensive, or require taking on entrenched interests, but others do not. Here are two easy wins in the southern part of I-405.

On SR-167 northbound, the HOV/toll lane on the left-hand side turns into a regular lane shortly after S. 180th street. This is quite early to end this lane, as traffic is bad on weekday mornings. While the left lane needs to be available for left turns at S. Grady Way beyond I-405, solo drivers don’t need two miles of space to merge into the left lane. The HOV/Toll lane should extend at least as far as the I-405 HOV direct access ramp (anything less is completely inexcusable and reduces the value of that direct access ramp), so HOV vehicles can continue through to I-405 without hitting a patch of SOV traffic. This would improve reliability on routes 566 and 567.

Google Maps

On eastbound N Southport Drive at I-405 (shown above), the on-ramp to I-405 north has two lanes, a regular lane with a meter, and an HOV lane that bypasses the meter. During rush-hour, the queue behind the meter often extends beyond the length of the HOV meter bypass lane, forcing buses and HOVs to wait behind a long line of cars for a while (sometimes as much as 10 minutes or more), before they can skip the bottleneck.

Making a right turn at the intersection to bypass this is illegal, though people do it and sometimes get ticketed for it. The solution? Allow right turns for HOV vehicles at the intersection (the red line in this map). It’s a great way to allow HOV vehicles to bypass the meter queue as usual, and there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly dangerous about allowing right turns there. For added safety, Renton could add a no-turn-on-red at that intersection to reduce potential conflict with left turning vehicles, and could trim thecorner of the intersection to allow more room to turn.

Dave Neubert, from the City of Renton, says that WSDOT has responsibility for that intersection, and that help is in sight. “The use of the second lane for right turns would require re-configuration of the raised island of this intersection. The WSDOT HOT Lane design-build project team from Bellevue to Renton is underway that will address this issue.  Until then, the only legal right turn is from the right curb lane.”

Martin H. Duke contributed to this report.

10 Replies to “Two easy ways to speed up I-405 buses”

    1. I think you have to consider the history of the interchange. Initially, there was only one lane. In that case, you don’t want cars turning right there. That would be cheating — allowing a car to pass another one and then merge back into the same lane. It would also slow down the main lane (which is kind of the point of the angled ramp entrance). So they put in the curbs to make sure everyone stays in their lane, and does the right thing.

      Then they added the HOV lane. Now there are essentially two lanes. As the article mentioned, they don’t want anyone turning right there because they don’t want cars or buses going over the curb. Once they fix it (and add the signs) they can then allow a right turn.

  1. The on-ramp to westbound I-90 from East Lake Sammamish Parkway in Issaquah is configured exactly like you are advocating at Southport Drive. The curb lane is for SOVs and HOVs turn right after the island. It seems to work pretty well since the SOV lane is very backed up during morning peak, although I don’t think that any buses use this ramp.,-122.0360571,155m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x54906f8067d46ea7:0xf57b437ab8862af7!8m2!3d47.532857!4d-122.0362429

    1. Yeah, good example. You can see how there are no sharp angles with the curb island, which makes it easy for buses to make the turn. It is a crescent. In contrast, the curb island to right (east) is a triangle.

    2. The ramp from NE 205th to I-5 has one of these as well. HOV’s can turn right at the second turn which allows them access to the left-hand HOV bypass lane.

      Of course, 3/4 of the cars making the turn are [as]SOV’s.

      1. As will be the case here when it’s a “conditionally allowed” right turn. Why are Washington’s “libruls” such assoles about driving?

  2. WSDOT broke out the lane marker eraser and made that 167 HOT lane shorter and shorter over the years, back when the designated HOV access to 405 North was along the right-side SOV exit. Now that there is an exclusive HOV ramp, maybe it should be extended again.

  3. As soon to reduce congestion on the 535, metro should make 237 an all day bus. Sound Transit should run 535 later in the evening because it leaves UWB at 7:41pm. There is a class block that ends at 7:45 pm. After the 7:41 trip busses only go every hour, making it so students need to wait an extra hour almost just to catch the bus.

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