Like many cross-lake commuters, I often find myself waiting for a connection on the Montlake Boulevard concrete island where Eastbound SR-520 buses pick up before traversing the lake. My favorite activity while stranded on this island is to refresh One Bus Away and watch the bus schedules go to hell as the U-district jams up in the morning. When I tire of that, my second favorite activity is to glare at the single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) who are banned from turning right but do so anyway.
The intersection is designed so that cars entering 520 use a slip lane behind the bus stop, leaving only buses and HOVs to approach the light at the stop and turn right onto an HOV-only lane on the freeway onramp. It’s a clever design that essentially creates a bus queue jump without needing a separate turn pocket, but it only works if SOVs aren’t allowed to turn right at the light.
Except, it turns out they are now. Kinda.
One February morning as I watched driver after SOV driver use the lane to make a turn onto the onramp, I looked up at the “No right turn except transit and carpools” sign to find out… it was gone. I guess since I’d been riding my bike more often and also using the prior bus stop at Pacific, I hadn’t noticed it. Looking at Google Street View, the sign seems to have disappeared sometime in the winter of 2017-8.
I tweeted this at WSDOT and they said they’d look into it. Several weeks later I still haven’t heard a response. Best I can tell is that the sign is WSDOT’s responsibility (the bridge is part of the state highway?) but no one knows when it was taken down or why. But apparently after my tweet and follow up emails, the sign is going back up.
Of course, putting the sign back is only half the battle. Stepped up enforcement would be a nice way for the city and the state to say “sorry” to bus commuters for neglecting us the past couple of years.