Today’s vote brings the formal approval of what was announced at an event we covered four weeks ago – read on for the official county news release:
Council approves agreements to increase bus service during Viaduct construction
Easing traffic congestion throughout initial construction phase
The King County Council today unanimously approved four interlocal agreements with the Washington State Department of Transportation that will provide up to $32 million for increased bus and other services during construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
These funds would be focused on trips that serve the corridors connecting downtown with West Seattle, Ballard, and Aurora Avenue. About 40 percent of the 200,000 workers who commute to downtown each day already ride the bus.
“This mitigation package will enable us to immediately improve bus service from West Seattle and Burien to downtown and to have this service in place before the Viaduct is closed,” said Councilmember Dow Constantine, chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee. “With this funding making room for 4,000 more daily bus riders, and with the Elliott Bay Water Taxi and soon-to-open Link Light Rail line improving access to downtown, commuters will have multiple transit choices to get to work.”
“This mitigation will give people in the Highway 99 corridor more options for getting around Seattle and the region while the viaduct is under construction,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “As we’ve seen with other road construction projects, if people are willing to switch some of their trips onto transit, we can keep the region moving and prevent gridlock during construction.”
Metro Transit has already released a list of “candidate” routes that will be considered for service upgrades as part of the Viaduct mitigation package. A full service upgrade proposal for 2009 is expected from Metro in the next few months.
The state Viaduct mitigation package also includes funding for transportation demand management programs that encourage commuters to use alternatives to driving alone.
A second ordinance, which will appropriate $550,000 in state funds to expand Metro Transit’s bus monitoring program, was also approved unanimously today. The data gathered around current Metro operations will be used to assemble the final mitigation proposal.
As reported in our original coverage, the specifics will be worked out as construction begins and it’s evident which routes need the most help.