West Seattle Bridge bus lane to get red paint tomorrow

Just in from SDOT:

Starting on Saturday, September 19, 2015, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will mark the existing eastbound bus-only lanes on the West Seattle Bridge with high visibility red markings. Similar to those installed in locations such as Battery Street and NE Pacific Street, these markings raise the profile of the transit-only lane and improve driver compliance with the restriction.

“As new bus service comes on line, this improvement will buses flow more freely from West Seattle to Downtown,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Painted bus-only lanes have been effective in increasing driver awareness in other areas of the city, and we will continue to use the approach in other key transit corridors.”

The red lane markings and “BUS ONLY” legends will be installed at the beginning of the bus lane and spaced approximately every 500 feet. The markings are intended to make drivers more aware of the bus-only lane, making transit more reliable and a more competitive choice for thousands of bus passengers each day. This addition to the existing transit lane will help 378 buses each day reach their destinations more quickly.

“As West Seattle continues to grow and welcome new residents, it is critical that we continue to improve infrastructure and operations in this corridor,” said City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen. “We have been working with neighbors over time to make West Seattle roads safer and to create more transportation choices throughout the peninsula. We will continue to work with the community on this and future efforts to move Seattle in the right direction, and I look forward to this and other improvements that will keep vehicles moving safely and efficiently across the bridge,” Rasmussen concluded.

Last year, SDOT marked bus lanes with this treatment on Battery Street (Third Avenue to Denny Way) [photo here], Midvale Place, NE Pacific Street and Wall Street (Denny Way to Fifth Avenue). The most notable impact was on NE Pacific Street where violation rates have dropped from 59 percent prior to installing the treatment to 17 percent afterward.

“These are important first steps in providing effective solutions over concerns that have been raised by West Seattleites for a long time,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “Our goal is to improve the experience for those traveling in and out of West Seattle.”

The red bus lane is one of several priorities for improving traffic conditions and connectivity between the West Seattle Bridge corridor and downtown Seattle identified in a new report commissioned by Mayor Murray and City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen.

This report compiles recommended improvements in traffic operations, transit enhancements, bike connections and new infrastructure from a variety of existing studies and project proposals, and prioritizes these improvements for funding and implementation over the next 10 years.

Along with the red bus lane, the report also recommends immediate implementation of various recommendations from a study on Traffic Incident Management jointly produced by the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Police Department. The entire report and list of prioritized improvements will be presented to the Council Transportation Committee at Council Chambers on Tuesday, September 22 at 9:30am.

The total cost of the improvements is estimated at $200,000, and will be paid for using Bridging the Gap levy funds.

48 Replies to "West Seattle Bridge bus lane to get red paint tomorrow"

  • ILoveWS September 18, 2015 (4:28 pm)

    I don’t say this kind of thing often, but I really love the cop that sits and pulls people over who ride the bus lane on the West Seattle Bridge.

  • a September 18, 2015 (5:22 pm)

    Next up for the bridge- install bike lanes and reduce it to one lane each direction.

  • old timer September 18, 2015 (5:24 pm)

    Sure would be nice if they could extend the bus only lane all the way around the bend to the one on 99N.

  • Clueless September 18, 2015 (5:54 pm)

    $10 says people will still ride in it and change lanes across it.
    I like the bus lane cop too, even though traffic is worse when he is there.

  • Tucker September 18, 2015 (6:14 pm)

    Fairly certain the issue isn’t that people aren’t aware that it’s a bus-only line. But hey, a little color on the commute isn’t a bad thing.

  • workdowntown September 18, 2015 (6:39 pm)

    Wish the buses would actually use those lanes! Half the time they stay in the right lane and slow everyone down.

  • dcn September 18, 2015 (6:41 pm)

    “…it is critical that we continue to improve infrastructure and operations in this corridor.” says Tom Rasmussen in the press release above.
    So, their solution to helping traffic flow better out of West Seattle is to give the bus lane some new paint? Because most of the people who drive in it now don’t realize that they are cheating? Maybe all the people who feel entitled to use the lane now will reconsider if they see a serious color like red. Because when you think your time is more important than everyone else’s, “seeing red” might knock you back into the more considerate world the rest of us live in.
    They are spending $200,000 to make a change that will have little to no impact. They are spending $100,000 per mile to rechannelize and reduce 35th’s and Roxbury’s efficiency. SDOT is frittering away fairly large amounts of money to make “infrastructure improvements” that have little or even negative effects on traffic.
    This is why I am voting No on Move Seattle–much of that $900K will get spent on these not-so-cheap projects that do nothing to improve traffic flow into and out of West Seattle. I will vote Yes on any and every levy to bring real solutions to this region, such as light rail. Even if West Seattle never gets light rail, more light rail lines along the I-5 corridor would help our traffic by decreasing bottle necks at the junction of the WS Bridge and I-5.

    • WSB September 18, 2015 (6:44 pm)

      DCN – there is an entire report we’re waiting to see about other recommended improvements – I’ve checked and it’s not filed to the Tuesday council committee agenda – whenever we get it, Monday if not sooner, we’ll report on it. – TR

  • Smitty September 18, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    So now – if we get a ticket for crossing “just” a solid white line – does this give us a better chance of fighting it in court? It wasn’t red, your honor.

    Laws are laws. Don’t change them for the stupid.

  • The King September 18, 2015 (7:07 pm)

    We all know it’s a bus lane. Just another politician shouting “look at me, I’m leaving my legacy behind in unbelievable forms of ignorance”. Use the red paint to mark all the potholes around Seattle and fix them in 2016.

    • WSB September 18, 2015 (8:32 pm)

      Have you reported your least favorite pothole(s) lately? City had none in queue as of the end of August. Try reporting it and see what happens. We’ve heard about a lot of rapid response. And if you don’t get rapid response – send us a copy of the form (screengrab) and the location, and let’s find out why! http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/potholes/

  • dcn September 18, 2015 (7:18 pm)

    Sorry–correction–the Move Seattle levy is asking for $900 million, not $900K. $900K would go pretty fast at the rate of $200K for one bus lane paint job.
    And, thanks, WSB, I’m eager to see their other recommendations. I usually vote for levies, but so far I am not impressed with the Move Seattle wish-list of projects.

  • S. barker September 18, 2015 (7:30 pm)

    More waste of money to supposedly help increase bus use – what a crock!!! The whole SDOT transportation dept is a joke!!! They are ignoring the needs of one of the largest growing areas of the city!!! They are making poor choices and imposing illogical deductions upon us with no regard to how it affects our quality of life. Please let them know this is no joke!

    LETTER TO Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City council and The Seattle Department of Transportation
    Do not decrease the number of lanes or the speed limit on 35th Ave SW in West Seattle!!!!

    35th Ave SW is the primary north-south ARTERIAL in West Seattle.
    · This is the primary transit corridor for both private vehicles and metro buses through West Seattle to the primary exit from the neighborhood, the West Seattle Bridge.
    · 35th Ave SW channels approximately 24,600 motor vehicles per day (at SW Alaska).
    · This motor vehicular volume is approximately 7,000 more per day than the other north-south roadways.
    · This volume will likely increase with the new construction and housing/condominium projects in West Seattle.
    · To accommodate the traffic volume, 35th Ave SW has been a 4-lane road for over 10 years.
    · Adjacent land uses include multiple family homes, single family residences and commercial use.
    · The only schools located on 35th are within one block and include a Montessori Preschool and private religious elementary schools.
    · Under the guise of “safety” SDOT proposes to reduce the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph, and reduce number of lanes from 4 to 3.
    · Experience with “re-channeling” Delridge, a 2 lane road with considerable less volume than 35th Ave SW, shows that traffic is negatively impacted.
    · Therefore, such a reduction in speed and reduction in lanes will cause an increase in traffic (i.e. bottleneck) and time delays, especially given the bus routes (both metro and school). SDOT acknowledges a 3-4 minute increase in the time to travel the corridor.
    · We believe that the current speed limit and lane numbers are appropriate for this high-volume corridor.
    · We are concerned that this slow-down will tempt drivers to shift their commute to other, narrower, non-arterial side streets.
    · If the primary concern is pedestrian safety then we believe there are more appropriate options, including the following possibilities:
    o Move the Bus stops to mid-block so that a traffic lane is not blocked when a left-turn lane is required.
    o Add marked crosswalks at all intersections; major crosswalks should have flashing lights overhead or embedded in the street on either side of the crosswalk.
    o Add additional lighted crosswalks.
    o Add traffic cameras/speed traps.
    · Furthermore, SDOT data shows that this is a “problem” that doesn’t need to be fixed:

    City-wide data:
    o The population has increased 14% (2004-2013)
    o Average daily traffic is trending lower; down 8% from 2004-2013
    o Collisions have decreased 35% (2005-2013) and continue to show this downward trend. The “collision rate” has dropped.
    o Collisions due to speed have slightly declined, whereas collisions due to distractions [not addressed by SDOT’s proposals] “increased substantially.”
    o Serious and fatal collisions are trending lower
    o In 2013: One pedestrian fatality and one serious injury collision occurred on 35th Ave SW compared to one vehicular fatality and three serious injury collisions that occurred on Delridge.
    o Pedestrian-involved collisions per capita have fallen by one-fourth (2005-2013)
    o Not granting right-of-way to pedestrians [also not addressed by SDOT’s proposals] “continues to be the top contributor to crashes”
    Data for the “corridor” – 35th Ave SW between Roxbury and Alaska
    o No bicycle collisions occurred on the corridor in 2013
    o Bicycle volume on the corridor is too low to be counted (<10)
    o Pedestrian volume on the corridor is too low to be indicated
    o The corridor has approximately 24,000 vehicles/day at the north end, which suggests a volume too high for it to be a candidate for a “road diet.”
    CONCLUSION: SDOT has IMPOSED ONE BAD alternative by putting 35th on a “road diet” (refer to the SDOT website for details). They have indicated in meetings that one of these two will be implemented, therefore “None of the above” is not a possibility. Neither option is acceptable to us. So the choice of “None” is what we seek.

  • Chris September 18, 2015 (7:53 pm)

    I actually thought this sounded like a good, simple idea. No, I’m sure that there are scofflaws that won’t care what color they see but I would bet that there are others that will see that bright, glaring “DON’T DRIVE HERE” coloring and think twice. I mean, how often do you see people parking in loading zones, bus stops and other areas that have nothing more then yellow or red paint to signal “off limits”?

  • chemist September 18, 2015 (8:35 pm)

    That’s an interesting bike master plan map WSB. How old is that draft ?
    I noticed it didn’t call for bike lanes on admiral West of 59th, instead heading S on 59th.

  • JortSandwich September 18, 2015 (8:40 pm)

    Excellent! Bus lanes are only effective when they’re used only by buses. Red paint will help the situation greatly and has been a successful part of bus lane implementation in other cities.
    I would like to see an enforcement mechanism like the SF Muni: cameras in the buses that take photos of the violaters and issue tickets.
    Look, I understand that traffic on the bridge is really bad in the mornings going to downtown. I imagine it makes some folks really jealous when the buses go by so quickly while they’re stuck in traffic. But don’t worry, there’s an easy solution! Just start riding the bus.
    And, yes, it actually is that simple.

  • ACG September 18, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    “Your honor, I’m colorblind. I couldn’t tell it was fancy red paint.”

  • JKB September 18, 2015 (9:34 pm)

    I’ve driven the WSB virtually every day during morning rush for the past 8 years. Yes, on occasion you’ll see a car in the bus only lane, but it’s rare. What I have never seen, in approximately 1,600 morning commutes is a car impeding mass transit in that lane. The only real impact is the vocal reverberations of about 100 drivers saying ‘jerk’. This is purely an us vs them move by a local government intent on pushing their agenda regardless of value. There is no verifiable data point that would justify this expense.

  • Gatewood Parent September 18, 2015 (9:45 pm)

    Thank you S. Barker. These changes to 35th. are completely unacceptable. There’s no basis in logic, and there is nothing positive about 20 mph speed zones on *the* major north/south route in West Seattle other than Delridge. This is a tremendous waste of money that actually reduces the quality of life for residents and commuters. I’d rather burn the money spent on this road work than see a convenient road reduced to a one-lane crawl. Each of the possible arguments one can give for making these changes have far far better solutions as S. Barker details quite thoroughly.

  • D del rio September 18, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    This is just more wasted money down the drain. I just visited a friend who has been priced out of West Seattle and now lives in that “boring” suburb of Federal Way. I could not get over how beautiful their roads were. How can a so called blue collar suburb have such maintained roads. I was so jealous. I also forgot that at one time our lines painted on the road had reflectors and Botts dotts.

  • dsa September 18, 2015 (10:04 pm)

    It’s clearly marked now. Someone must have beaten the $200 ticket. So to recoup, the city spends $200,000.00.

  • TheKing September 18, 2015 (10:07 pm)

    The color red has been proven to make people crazy angry. Mix the new paint, road diet, texters and maybe somebody running out of gas on the West Seattle Freeway…..sorry, BRIDGE and you have the recipe for a Michael Bay production. Remember the two guys on the top of the bridge clubbing each other with baseball bats back in the day? That was nothing.

  • dsa September 18, 2015 (10:10 pm)

    S. Barker, Your letter tells it exactly how it is. There is no justification for the city’s action, and even if there was there are other alternatives available short of crippling the infrastructure.

  • EmmyJane September 18, 2015 (10:40 pm)

    Can they paint it “bus and women in labor only”? That bus lane saved me when my contractions went from 10 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart in a half hour and it was morning rush hour. Not everyone using the bus lane is a complete jerk!! 😀😀

  • Fed Up September 19, 2015 (6:35 am)

    This whole city has gone to hell. I have lived here 60 years and can’t wait to retire and leave. They have wasted so much money over the years.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 19, 2015 (6:49 am)

    ” there is nothing positive about 20 mph speed zones on *the* major north/south route in West Seattle other than Delridge.”
    Yeah, who cares about the safety of kids? I need to get to the next red light 10 seconds faster. We can make more kids, but my time is gone forever!

  • Chris September 19, 2015 (7:19 am)

    WSB – Thank you for pointing out – several times, on several different comment threads – that people can contact the city for pothole repairs. I have used it at least three times now for Roxbury Street and in all cases, the holes have been repaired within 2 days (or even the next day). I just used this feature the other day and noticed the map (http://web6.seattle.gov/sdot/potholemap/) showing pothole repair requests. If you take a look, you can see that there have been very few requests for repairs on 35th and exactly one (mine) on Roxbury in the last month. So, if you have complaints about potholes on those arterials, request repairs (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/potholereport.htm).

    Or, for a longer term fix, vote YES on the Move Seattle levy in November to get both 35th and Roxbury repaved, as they are both funded projects on that levy: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/Levy%20District%201.pdf

  • redblack September 19, 2015 (7:20 am)

    joe szilagyi: spot on.
    maybe y’all should have slowed down when you had the chance.

  • Nora September 19, 2015 (7:26 am)

    Joe, you are exactly right. Sometimes I think the only people in favor of the road diet on 35th are those of us who live at the far south end of it.

    For those of you ranting about the road diet, it stops just south of Morgan. The speed limit hasn’t dropped. Yes, the light timing still needs to be corrected, but my commute feels much safer when I don’t have cars passing me on the left at 10+ over the speed limit and a wall of parked cars on the right. And I also usually see at least one person backing out of their driveway between those cars. But here’s my favorite part- no more people swerving recklessly into my lane to get around someone turning left onto a street between lights!

  • themightyrabbit September 19, 2015 (8:20 am)

    While I think this is a great solution to improving the reliability of the lane for buses, since I ride the bus occasionally and so many inconsiderate yahoos are in the lane when they shouldn’t, let’s hope that the paint used is the right quality. We need it to provide adequate traction as the same as other cities/countries otherwise we’ll have a ton of motorbikes and late night DUI crashes due to the traction change of the surface. Fingers crossed they get it right.

  • Born on Alki 59 September 19, 2015 (8:24 am)

    @Fed Up, my sentiments exactly.
    Goodbye Seattle.

  • Scott September 19, 2015 (8:37 am)

    @Nora – The road diet is a complete mess. I have seen traffic backed up 2 blocks at lights already and that wasn’t even rush hour. Also I have to turn left onto a side street and because of the street reduced to one lane there is more traffic I had to sit there for like 2 min’s to turn. If there was two lanes it moves traffic better and allows people to make turns off 35th better.

  • dsa September 19, 2015 (9:28 am)

    Nora, the correct answer would have been to eliminate left turns along with other traffic management methods without destroying the capacity infrastructure.

  • Alki Driver September 19, 2015 (10:08 am)

    Drivers coming from Admiral going to 99 have to first merge onto the bridge (with drivers coming down from the 35th/Fauntleroy direction) and then cross the bus lane to get into the right lane to exit towards 99. Traffic would ease up considerably if we could just use a little of the bus lane at the top of the ramp, skip the merge, and just cross the bus lane quickly to get to the right lane. Honestly, this would HELP many drivers. I wish SDOT would just take a ride with me one morning, maybe they could leave some of the red paint off the road

  • Jennifer September 19, 2015 (11:30 am)

    Just drove west bound on 99 and they are putting cones up. They aren’t adding a west bound bus lane, are they. Please tell me no.

    • WSB September 19, 2015 (11:42 am)

      Don’t know what they’re doing westbound. Will see if I can get an answer. I only just now got the details of the work schedule for the eastbound lane markings, which I’ll be publishing separately.
      (edit) Oh wait, you said 99. There’s no westbound – do you mean southbound?

  • Jennifer September 19, 2015 (1:00 pm)

    Sorry. Meant west bound on the bridge.

  • Cainipoo September 19, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    Or, SDOT could have eliminated some of the parking on 35th to make a designated turn lane (similar to Ambaum Blvd in Burien).

  • Paul September 19, 2015 (4:08 pm)

    The worst part of the lane changes on 35th and Roxbury has been all the $%@#*&^ complaining!

    I use both regularly and think it has been working fine so far. And I know they are still working on both projects.

  • Chris September 19, 2015 (5:12 pm)

    Amen, Paul.

  • Robert September 20, 2015 (8:19 am)

    I worked with alaska department of hiways, and when a supervisor saw a pothole or washout it was fixed very quick. when i see the supervisors little electric buggys roaming around like flies on a gut pile , what are they doing? don’t they have eyes? spend less money on new prius’s and more on work.and don’t paint the potholes it kills the fish.

  • j September 20, 2015 (9:15 am)

    A speed bump formed across 35th Ave at 100st sw over a year ago. Probably two years now. It has been reported. I love hitting that speed bump everyday then log onto wsb and hear of money being flushed down the toilet everywhere across the city.
    In AH our needs for pedestrian and roads are ignored as we paint colored crosswalks all over the city and paint red bus lanes.
    Can we at least paint crosswalks where they don’t exist and are needed first before the city starts “playing” with the already existing crosswalks?
    Can we make pedestrian improvements on at least one side of every block in AH so parents can get their strollers out of the middle of the road?
    No? Colored crosswalks are more important? Ok.

  • Kimmy September 20, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    It’s kind of like when you witness parents giving their kids to the count of 5 to behave, but they they keep giving them leeway without addressing the behaviour. 1, 2, 3, 4! Don’t make me get to 5 or else! 4 1/2! 4 & 3/4!! *paints red line*

  • sam-c September 21, 2015 (9:37 am)

    Hmmmm. I fear that the red paint will make people more self-righteous and keep people from being able to change lanes…. ie, some people don’t understand that portions of THAT LANE are not a bus lane the entire length of the bridge. I get on at Delridge and often have to change lanes, to get to 4th Avenue, Beacon Hill, I-5, what have you.
    You’re allowed to use that lane to change lanes from about Delridge to the high point. Some people seem to think they are citizen police and block me from changing lanes even if I have my blinker on for SEVERAL hundred FEET. *this happened last Tuesday afternoon-NO ONE would let me over, there wasn’t even traffic, I kept speeding up or slowing down, trying to get in the lane….*

    I hope they don’t paint the lane-changing portion red. Sure, it’s bus lane as it goes along next to Nucor, but from Delridge on-ramp to just almost the crest, IT IS NOT A BUS LANE. Look at an aerial view of the bridge and educate yourself, people!
    And all of this lane changing is complicated by people trying to get over to 99. Lots of weaving, lots of people blocking people from changing lanes… very frustrating location.

  • nadmiralresident September 21, 2015 (12:45 pm)

    I work at the UWMC and there is a red bus lane on Pacific Street in front of the Medical Center, but there are still cars that drive in that lane. Some people think red means fast so they think they can go faster in the red lane. Another waste of money by the city

  • Wes C. Addle September 21, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    @JKB I do see offenders blocking the bus lane. Usually it’s when someone is in the NB 99 lane and realize they’re going to the wrong way or there’s a back up. They then cross the bus lane to get back to the middle lane and get stuck trying to merge due to gridlock. The buses will stack in the bus lane when this happens.

  • udmiou1 September 22, 2015 (10:44 am)

    I commute on the WS bridge each day, and have since 2009. I have seen 2 instances where buses are considerably delayed – any neither of them had ANYTHING to do with the small percentage of drivers who abuse that lane – both times involved severe traffic and EVERYONE was stuck. Spending $200,000 on red coloring on the street is a complete WASTE of money. Above, a member listed out statistics on traffic volume, population increase etc – these are the things that are the best indicators of the true “issue”, however SDOT simply refuses to accept that their solutions in many cases are completely ineffective, and I see no end in site to the stupidity.

Sorry, comment time is over.