More scrutiny for SDOT and Madison BRT

Broadway/Madison (SounderBruce)

Heidi Groover and Daniel Beekman with a good scoop in The Seattle Times:

But the draft assessment focused on SDOT’s management makes the broader claim that the department is not yet prepared to manage a major FTA-funded construction project.

PMA Consultants concluded that SDOT “does not yet have the management capacity and capability to implement an FTA-funded major capital program.”

Seattle has received federal transportation dollars for road projects like the Lander Street overpass and Mercer Street rebuild. But the city has in recent years also sought federal funds for several ambitious transit projects.

SDOT had previously revealed that they were pushing the start date back to 2023 per the FTA’s recommendation, but hadn’t given more details. More consultants are being hired to help with oversight.

One striking thing looking at the project’s org chart is how many consultants are already involved. I count 12 separate firms. On one hand, over-reliance on consultants can make it difficult for an agency to develop in-house expertise. On the other, if it takes this many years to build a single BRT line and we don’t know if we’re going to build any more BRT lines because we don’t know if another ballot measure will pass, I’m not sure there’s a better alternative.

SDOT’s expansion over the last decade or so from primarily road maintenance to more ambitious multimodal capital projects has been uneven. I would have thought that by now we’d have reached the point where building transit infrastructure is a more routine affair.

Madison BRT Is Good, But Let’s Fight to Make it Great

SDOT Director Scott Kubly introducing the project
SDOT Director Scott Kubly introducing the project

Last night SDOT hosted a crowd of nearly 200 people to hear the latest Preferred Concept Design for the Madison Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. SDOT staff and Nelson Nygaard walked attendees through the rationale for the project (inclusion in Seattle’s Transit Master Plan), the preferred alignment, stop and facilities treatments, fleet plans, funding, and alignment.

Much of the discussion would have been familiar to those who had attended previous SDOT meetings or read the various coverage on the project here, at the Seattle Times, and on The Urbanist. The route will run on Madison street from 1st Avenue to MLK Blvd in Madison Valley, with varying levels of transit priority between 1st and 18th Avenues, and mixed traffic from 18th-MLK.

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SDOT has a mandate to go big.
SDOT has a mandate to go big.

Analysis and commentary after the jump. Continue reading “Madison BRT Is Good, But Let’s Fight to Make it Great”

TMP HCT Analysis (V): Madison

The Madison corridor, from Colman Dock to 23rd Avenue, has grades that are simply too steep for conventional streetcars. The $81m BRT option is more efficient, according to ANC/NR, than the cheaper enhanced bus option ($2.96 vs. $4.16 per rider). Both values are middling for the study as a whole. The ridership difference is small – 14,000 vs. 12,500 weekday riders in 2030.

The BRT option would save about 8 minutes for travelers going end-to-end. It is both relatively cheap to max out and the one truly east-west HCT corridor. In either alternative, the this line replaces the 11 and 12, but buses at the end split between heading to Interlaken Park or Madison Park.