by ALEX KVEN
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.
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.