Roosevelt RapidRide goes before Council

Last week SDOT released new designs and introduced legislation seeking funding for Roosevelt RapidRide. A culmination of two years of process, the Locally Preferred Alternative SDOT is taking to Seattle City Council, and soon thereafter the FTA, represents some wins and losses for transit riders compared to the design shown at last year’s open houses.

The most exciting news is that Roosevelt BRT, now officially called Roosevelt RapidRide, gets a lot closer to rapid, especially through SLU and the Denny Regrade. In addition to using the existing Stewart BAT Lanes southbound as previously proposed, SDOT intends to invest in new Transit Only Lanes on Virginia St northbound, creating a transit couplet between the 3rd Ave Transit Spine and SLU. Unfortunately, it appears that the transition in the Denny Triangle between the couplet and SLU, such as the short southbound segment on Boren Ave, will have the route go through mixed traffic.

In SLU, the plan is for BAT Lanes in both directions along Fairview Ave, from Valley St to Denny Way. This shared bus/bike lane is a huge improvement compared to last year’s concept that had the BRT route fight through mixed traffic by the Mercer Mess. Continuing the good news into Eastlake, the line is now slated to travel on Transit Only street/car lanes on Fairview Ave between Valley St and Yale Ave.

North of Yale Ave N, the line continues in mixed traffic as previously proposed through the rest of Eastlake and into North Seattle, splitting into a couplet, with queue jumps at unspecified intersections, though presumably similar to the ones explicitly mentioned last year. Importantly, the funding proposal sets the terminus by the future Roosevelt Light Rail station, with no extension from Roosevelt to Northgate in the near future, and SDOT still intends to electrify the route. For bicyclists, the project invests in protected bike lanes throughout Eastlake through Roosevelt, such as along 11th/12th Ave, Eastlake Ave, and parts of Fairview Ave.

The legislation will be heard by the Transportation Committee on July 18th at 2pm. Should the Full Council adopt the Locally Preferred Alternative and accompanying funding measure (this is separate from Move Seattle funds which is already secured), the City can go to the FTA this fall to seek additional grants, with an outcome next summer. If federal funding cannot be secured, the Roosevelt-Downtown HCT project will have to go back to the drawing board for revision. In the mean time, now is the chance to learn more about the project and engage elected officials as they formally consider Roosevelt BRT.

Bus + Rail Planning in Downtown Redmond

This past Thursday evening the City of Redmond held a public meeting about bus and rail planning for the future Downtown Redmond light rail station, part of the City’s ongoing Downtown planning. The City asked the public to give feedback about four station area concepts, with the eventual goal of providing the City’s recommended station area concept to Sound Transit.

Concepts 1 (West at-grade) and 2 (West elevated) would locate the station along the north side of Bear Creek Parkway across from the Heron Rookery and close to existing high density apartments. The station itself would be along the northern rear of the triangular station area, tail tracks extending west across 161st Ave NE, with a transit busway parallel on the south. Pedestrians would need to cross at the far ends. Between the busway and Bear Creek Parkway would be a parking area with a single entrance off Leary Way NE, and the shoulders of Bear Creek Parkway would be used for bus layover space.

Concepts 3 (East elevated) and 4 (East at-grade) would locate the station on its own block just north of Redmond Town Center and with vastly better TOD potential. The station would be surrounded on almost all near sides by bus loading, with comparatively better bus-rail transfers due to minimal need to cross a street. There would be short term parking and general pick up drop off along the far side of Cleveland St, and some additional layover and parking to the east across 166th Ave NE. Notably, instead of tail tracks west across 164th Ave NE, the City proposes a center storage track back towards the east. The lack of tail tracks may require slower approach speeds to the station.

Comparing the east and west locations, the City additionally noted that the east location had fewer impacts to existing public parking and reduced impact to the Redmond Central Connector. Though not explicitly called out in the presentation, City planners in early consultation with Metro envision the new light rail station as the main transit hub for Downtown Redmond in place of Redmond Transit Center. The west station area concepts have more bus layover space than the east station area concepts, so an east station location would involve more lines continuing to terminate at RTC for the layover space.

ST3 documentation envisioned that the Redmond extension would elevated through SE Redmond Station and then proceed at-grade through Downtown Redmond, so it will be interesting to see if Sound Transit will elevate should Redmond prefer an elevated station area concept. Representatives from Sound Transit at the meeting were quick to disclaim that this is a City-led effort, and the City too emphasized that it could only make a recommendation. That said, Redmond mayor John Marchione is now as of this week a vice chair of the Sound Transit Board.

An online presentation and public feedback form is now live. The questionnaire closes February 5th, and this matter is anticipated to be reviewed by the Redmond City Council at its February 28th study session.