VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge bus lane getting its red markings – plastic, not paint

One night later than planned, because of last night’s rain, the first meant-to-discourage-lawbreaking red markings are being applied right now to the bus lane approaching, and on, the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. Our quick Instagram clip takes a closer look:

During a brief hard-hat-required photo op with the SDOT crew and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, first thing we learned was that “markings” is the word because it’s NOT paint. “Paint” was the word used in the city announcement we published – but shortly after arrival in the work zone tonight, talking with crew leaders, we were informed 2′ x 3′ red plastic strips comprise the markings. They’re laid down after the surface is pressure-washed, and then they’re sealed.

Street paint would wear off quickly, it was explained. The plastic is tinted throughout, so it holds its color even as some of the surface wears away. And this is a bright “traffic red” color, in case you were in the contingent thinking red wouldn’t show on a dark, rainy morning/night. In addition, a reflective material tops the plastic strips – looking like frost, to our eyes:

That’ll catch your headlights in those dark hours. The crew started work tonight on the bus lane right after it heads east at the corner of Spokane/Avalon, and were headed toward the high rise when we left. Councilmember Rasmussen said (video) he was glad to see the start of work on one of the items on the 27-project West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor action plan (reported here last night) that his Transportation Committee will review tomorrow – but he also spotted a few things, as we stood along the south side of the bottom of the onramp, such as missing pavement – “you need to get someone out here tomorrow to fix that,” he admonished – and one tattered item suggesting the sidewalk might not have been swept in a few years:

A few decades, maybe. Anyway, if you drive the eastbound bridge – and/or eastbound lower Spokane, east of Avalon – you’ll see red for at least a few years, which is how long the $200,000 application is expected to last.

34 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge bus lane getting its red markings - plastic, not paint"

  • Ttt September 21, 2015 (11:27 pm)

    Seems like a waste of money. I’m pretty sure drivers saw the old white paint, but they chose not to vacate the lane because of congested traffic in the car lanes… Have there been any studies to show that our bus lanes make that big of a difference in making the bus trips faster than without bus lanes? Especially the bus lanes in the junction area…

  • dsa September 21, 2015 (11:48 pm)

    But the bus won’t stay in the lane, that’s my issue.

  • Koni September 22, 2015 (12:00 am)

    Seems like $200,000 would have paid for a lot of traffic cop enforcement time… a better deterent for all the bus lane violators I see every morning around 7 am….hmmmm???

  • Smitty September 22, 2015 (6:40 am)

    This must not be the first place in the world to try this.

    That said, you would think it would give negligent drivers an “out” if caught in a “non red” bus only lane (or no crossing lane like before the NB I-5 onramp).

    “It wasn’t red, like the WSB, your honor!”. “I thought red meant bus only?”……..

  • That Guy September 22, 2015 (7:20 am)

    Boy I sure hope that plastic doesn’t get slippery when wet. Wet plastic (especially on an incline) can be very dangerous.

  • Koni September 22, 2015 (7:31 am)

    Just witnessed 22 bus Lane violators in four minutes starting at 7 10 am…. How about ticketing them to pay back the taxpayers… They obviously know they are breaking the law and do not care…

  • Tony S September 22, 2015 (7:31 am)

    I like that there’s a huge pothole in the photo with markings around it to be fixed, but they’re painting right around it.

  • heather September 22, 2015 (7:45 am)

    Boy, you can really see how much our roads need repair in those images.

  • WS Driver September 22, 2015 (7:46 am)

    How does this new plastic material perform traction-wise versus the surrounding pavement throughout it’s life? Is it deceptively slick in the rain or freezing temperatures? How about motorcycles?

    From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

    “• Slick materials that interfere with traction are applied to road surfaces with increasing frequency. A motorcycle’s traction can be seriously compromised by bituminous rubberized asphalt sealer used for crack repair and plasticized adhesive pavement-marking tape.”


  • Wendell September 22, 2015 (7:49 am)

    Big red rectangles. What a waste of money.

  • Mike September 22, 2015 (7:55 am)

    How about all normal motorists obey the bus lane rules if METRO obeys the gore point law when merging to get onto 99 from the bridge? That’s a violation EVERY bus does every day. I think the infraction is about $240’ish per violation, that’s a few thousand dollars a day for SPD.

  • Brian September 22, 2015 (8:17 am)

    @WS Driver: Why are you harping on how slick this surface might be for motorcycle riders when there isn’t any reason for any vehicle but a bus to be in that lane in the first place?

  • Joe Szilagyi September 22, 2015 (8:33 am)

    For all the incessant complaints about the red striping of the bus lane that I’ve seen online — and the price is a valid thing to discuss — I watched a car camp that bus lane today when I just was in the #21. And he sat there despite the bus laying on the horn for FORTY SECONDS. Then he finally accelerated forward. If the “Gore Cop” had been there the guy would have had a ticket for sure, but alas he was not there today. The guy was loitering and trying to cheat ahead of the queue to merge left toward I-5 or 1st or 4th.
    Just like the Roxbury and 35th Road Diets, *THIS* is why we can’t have nice things.
    As someone said up above and is a fixture in these comments, people are CONSTANTLY violating the bus-only lane. That’s entitlement plain and simple, to think that your needs as a single occupancy vehicle are more important than a bus full of 100 people. I hope SDOT and the City grow the nerve to put an actual PHYSICAL barricade to keep you all out of the lane. With a gate that only a bus transponder can activate. Deal with it.

  • WS Driver September 22, 2015 (8:38 am)

    You’re right. No road users on 2, 3, or 4 wheels will ever venture into this new red lane even in cases of emergency evasive action or to navigate around a blockage. Let’s talk the buses then. We’ve never seen any Metro equipment stranded, jackknifed, or spinning their wheels hopelessly on icy roads / foul weather conditions, right?

    • WSB September 22, 2015 (8:55 am)

      To the questions regarding whether this material is slippery etc. – I have no further information on material specifications and realistically probably can’t get it today, as SDOT’s communicators are involved with the traffic situation. But please note that this is not SDOT’s first use of this; it’s been almost a year since the Battery St. bus lane, downtown, and citywide media coverage at the time indicated other roads were to follow. – TR

  • Clueless September 22, 2015 (8:43 am)

    Good point Mike. I’ve raised that one before. Maybe metro is exempt?
    After sdot solves the bus lane problem maybe they could find a better fix for the second most abused area, the double white line from the bridge to I 5 north. :)

  • Smitty September 22, 2015 (9:02 am)

    Instead of spending 200,000 why don’t we MAKE 200,000 by installing cameras and sending fines via mail?

    This would allow officer cool shades to focus on other things 9/10 times a year as well.

    • WSB September 22, 2015 (9:16 am)

      As noted in a previous comment thread, cameras for bus lanes are currently not allowed in Washington. The West Seattle Bridge Corridor report that’s being presented shortly at the Transportation Committee meeting suggests investigating that, starting with getting the Legislature to change the law. – TR

  • Mickymse September 22, 2015 (9:16 am)

    @Mike, if I’m understanding your complaint correctly, aren’t buses pulling up as far as possible before merging so as to be clearly identified to cars behind and, more importantly, to clear out of the bus lane for other buses continuing on to the 1st Ave exit?

  • Alan September 22, 2015 (10:55 am)

    @Mike – “How about all normal motorists obey the bus lane rules if METRO obeys the gore point law when merging to get onto 99 from the bridge?”

    I’ve seen this tack of “I’ll obey this rule that I don’t like when others obey the rules I do care for” in other threads, by other people. It doesn’t work that way. People don’t get to decide that they can speed because others are talking on their phone and they don’t get to use the bus lane because they believe bus drivers are violating the gore point law.

    One person’s bad behavior doesn’t justify another’s.

  • PSPS September 22, 2015 (11:22 am)

    LOL. $200K, huh? I guarantee I could have done it for $190K.

  • don September 22, 2015 (12:02 pm)

    For 200k they could have fixed a lot of pot holes and damaged roads on a bus lane that is already a bus lane. crazy. Does not seem like Red will change much. Get some more cops to give tickets would not have taken red bus lanes. I just don’t get how we can justify such cost for so little gain.


  • TheKing September 22, 2015 (12:54 pm)

    WS driver does make a good point about the surface being potentially dangerous, if you get on the bridge via Delridge, you do have to cut thru the bus lane to get to the other eastbound lanes. Maybe the pass thru lanes for motorcycles can be purple, brown for cars, pink for scooters, green for vehicles over 10k, yellow for school buses, and maroon for colorblind people.

  • Gatewood Driver September 22, 2015 (1:02 pm)

    Related question: Does anyone know the rule about going across a bus lane to get to another lane? For instance, if I’m eastbound on the WS bridge and I’m in the lane to go to 99 north, can I legally cross the bus lane to get back over to the bridge lanes, or vice versa? If it’s a violation, what’s the penalty? Thanks.

  • clueless September 22, 2015 (1:26 pm)

    Hi Gatewood. I’ve seen the bus lane cop pull people over who changed lanes like you described. Must be illegal and subject to same bus lane fine. Not sure what it is. One has to make a decision on the west side of the hill. It’s also dangerous. I’ve seen accidents happen where someone tries to change lanes across the bus lane and doesn’t see the bus coming because it’s going 30-40 MPH and the car is basically sitting still. They hit a bus as they try to change lanes or the bus hits them. I’ve also been in the resulting long back up. Peace.

  • Steven September 22, 2015 (1:33 pm)

    As a motorcycle rider that get’s on at Delridge, This is a clear and easy to forecast series of catastrophic events. That stuff they’re putting down is slick as snot when wet and when we have hint of cold weather the bridge is a humongous slip and slide. Put the two together and well…

  • sam-c September 22, 2015 (1:44 pm)

    I mentioned this on the other thread. It’s not a BUS ONLY lane from the Delridge on-ramp to almost the crest of the West Seattle Bridge. Look on an aerial photo. Hopefully they didn’t paint that section red?
    (some people don’t seem to know this though, and self-righteously block you from getting over before it turns back into a BUS ONLY lane)

  • Steve September 22, 2015 (1:55 pm)

    @Brian, perhaps he’s harping on about how safe the surface is for motorcycles due to the fact that no one can predict where they will need to be in the case of an emergency. If I end up in the bus lane avoiding an accident and have to brake hard to avoid an impact, I would prefer not to worry about whether the available traction is compromised in the ‘red zone’. Motorcyclists are used to constantly scanning the road surface to detect things like oil spills, gravel, etc, and we have come to expect the unexpected. But those hazards are not by design – making roads less safe on purpose seems, well, stupid. So yeah, I’d like to know if the surface has less traction than the surrounding pavement, or if the traction is OK in the dry but an ice rink in the rain.

  • Alan September 22, 2015 (2:11 pm)

    There is a fair amount of distance from the Delridge onramp to the “Bus Only” section of the lane. People should move left, as quickly and safely as they can. People already in the left lanes should understand this is a merge and allow it, but signaling a merge seems to just tell people to close the gap.

    I agree that ticketing is a better approach and that the new markings are a waste of money.

  • Watertowerjoey September 22, 2015 (2:57 pm)

    ” Does anyone know the rule about going across a bus lane to get to another lane?”

    It’s a fine, and one of my biggest complaints.

    While I 100% agree that busses should get some kind of advantage it makes way too much sense it this situation to let people get over the crest, and pick a route.

    Personally, I can take 99, 1st, 4th or even I-5 into downtown. We should be able to choose the least congested option. Hell, the city (and bus riders) should want that too!

  • Panda September 22, 2015 (3:40 pm)

    At least they got the letters in the correct order this time. ‘SUB LONY’ would have been extremely confusing.

  • WHAT? September 22, 2015 (3:42 pm)

    Going forward, how about if whoever gets caught still driving in the bus lane receives a ticket for $200,000. Seems fair to me.

  • au September 22, 2015 (6:39 pm)

    We are a city that seems to think painting the roads is a fix for poor engineering. The problem with the east bound bridge is mainly due to the weaving of traffic. Until that is sorted out not much will change, although folks coming down from 35th/Junction et al could stop tailgating and let those coming from admiral over into the 99 lane.

  • MOVE! Seattle PLEASE! September 22, 2015 (9:40 pm)

    Which entity created the extra slippery mess in the winter on the bridge & exit ramp in an attempt to prevent ice build up – was it SDOT????

Sorry, comment time is over.