What’ll be done to ease traffic, and when? West Seattle Bridge Corridor progress report out

(WSB photo)

The 80 “zone” signs installed on the West Seattle Bridge this past weekend comprise one of four projects SDOT has added to the action list for the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor, a list originally shepherded by WS-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen during his final year in office, following the WS Transportation Coalition‘s 2014 list of priorities.. As our area’s first-ever elected-by-district Councilmember, Lisa Herbold has picked up the ball and run with it, and has just announced the release of the newest document in the project, a progress report (technically, the SDOT response to the council’s Statement of Legislative Intent).

When Councilmember Herbold announced on Friday that the progress report was out, it wasn’t available yet in digital format, but now it is – see the full progress report here – and the link’s been added to her online post about it. In that post, her overview of the progress report includes:

The report lists work completed so far, estimated costs for the 27 projects mentioned in the Whitepaper; implementation status, though some are listed as TBD (to be determined); which agency has primary and implementation responsibility for each project; resources directed so far, and timetables.

Here’s the table listing those 27 projects, in case you can’t remember them all:

Councilmember Herbold’s overview continues:

Of the 27 projects mentioned in the Whitepaper, SDOT proposes to focus on the 15 projects in the Primary West Seattle Bridge/Spokane Street Viaduct corridor (See map). In addition, SDOT added four projects from after the publication of the whitepaper in 2015, including installing additional locational markers on the bridge.

The report provides data for corridor traffic trends. Of note is that the West Seattle Bridge carried an average of 107,300 vehicles per weekday, and 29,300 transit riders. In 2015, there were 56 collisions on the bridge and the Spokane Street Viaduct, and 117 “incidents”, which averaged 47 minutes in duration.

The report notes the $500,000 approved by the Council in 2015 for Intelligent Transportation Systems improvements will mostly be finished by 2016, with the rest scheduled for 2017.

Also included are cost estimates and grant application status for the South Lander Street Grade Separation and RR Safety Project.

SDOT proposes to exclude some projects from future whitepaper reports, including 4th Ave Transit Ramp to Spokane Viaduct, Delridge Way Rapid Ride Transit, and Sound Transit expansion (which is subject to a public vote). This may be worth additional discussion.

Primarily, SDOT writes in the progress report, the items it suggests leaving out of future reports are items that are in other agencies’ jurisdictions, and/or outside the main bridge corridor. Here’s that list:

(It doesn’t mean they’re being shelved – just that SDOT wants to concentrate its tracking on the others.) Back to the list of four added projects we mentioned at the start of this update: Besides the “zone” signs on the bridge, the list includes repair and painting projects for the “low bridge” (South Spokane Street Swing Bridge), plus the Fauntleroy Expressway earthquake-cushion re-replacement work that is already under way.

What happens next? In addition to SDOT proceeding with the project list, it’s asking for the release of $100,000 – a pre-planned amount – for more traffic studies. Its revised timeline grid, on the last page of the project report, stretches as far out as 2022 (for studying another railroad crossover beyond Lander) and TBD (for “freight-only lanes on Lower Spokane,” “bicycle connection on W. Marginal,” and “Terminal 5 overpass to Alki Trail”). As pointed out in our previous reports on the project list, it’s mostly incremental; the only real big-ticket item is the Lander Street Bridge (which, reminder, has an open house event this Wednesday in SODO) – no ramp widening from the bridge to 99, for example.

P.S. Pages 9 and 10 of the report are where you’ll find the full data table that Councilmember Herbold mentions, with key numbers about local commuting, freight, and more.

36 Replies to "What'll be done to ease traffic, and when? West Seattle Bridge Corridor progress report out"

  • Qc June 6, 2016 (8:06 pm)

    What’s going on with the planned delridge rapid ride? And why is that out of sdot’s “jurisdiction”?

    • WSB June 6, 2016 (8:32 pm)

      Because King County runs Metro, not the city (though of course SDOT has jurisdiction over the streets and sidewalks that would be involved). The status-report chart toward the middle of this progress report says “in discussion, implementation not committed, joint planning under way.”

  • brian June 6, 2016 (10:09 pm)

    get rid of the bus lane

    • John June 7, 2016 (7:52 am)

      Really?  You can’t be serious?


    • Mickymse June 7, 2016 (9:09 am)

      Getting rid of the bus lane on the Bridge would do absolutely NOTHING to improve non-transit commuting on the Bridge, and might possibly lead to more “incidents” which could make traffic worse. If you hate transit, that’s just fine, but don’t blame it for traffic congestion.

  • PanicMonster June 6, 2016 (11:29 pm)

    Getting rid of the bus lane will not help the bottle necks at the I-5 and 99 northbound ramps.  The delay caused by busses using the lane, then merging is negligible.  Absence of the lane would only discourage bus use, thereby increasing private vehicle traffic, worsening the situation further.

    The true issue with bridge traffic is not the bridge itself, but the outflow. 

  • MJ June 6, 2016 (11:32 pm)

    Brian I totally agree with you on the bus lane. Big project but how about two lane on ramps for 99 and I-5. 

  • MJ June 6, 2016 (11:34 pm)

    If we can build a tunnel on the waterfront how about getting four lanes each way on I-5 through downtown.

  • dsa June 7, 2016 (12:52 am)

    MJ, the problem with the  I-5 on ramp as you note is the capacity of I-5.  It is probably permanently constricted because of the Trade Center.

  • Smitty June 7, 2016 (7:33 am)

    Finally! Bus lane video enforcement will be much more effective – not to mention lucrative –  than office “cool shades”. 

    As much as I support bus lanes, this one little tweak would make a world of difference.  Having the bus lane end after the 99 exit would do wonders for flow.  As it stands now people exiting to 1st or 4th have to wait to change lanes(move right) until far too late – creating a huge amount of congestion – especially when the exit to I-5 is long.  Removing that portion of the bus lane would improve auto traffic with no material impact on bus efficiencies.

  • Brian June 7, 2016 (7:35 am)

    Get rid of the bus lane.  It won’t discourage bus use at all.  There are very few busses that use the lane compared to number of cars getting onto the bridge.

    • PanicMonster June 7, 2016 (9:23 am)

      Taking the bus or water taxi to downtown cuts the commute time in half.  If the bus lanes are removed, a bus commute becomes longer than a driving driving commute.  People ride the bus for many reasons, among those is time.  No time benefit to bus riding means a drop in ridership.  Additionally, riders obligated to a bus commute for monetary or moral reasons suffer.

      Contrary to the general tone of the commentary, adding more and more and more lanes doesn’t actually improve congestion (evidence: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=fundamental+law+of+highway+congestion). Think about LA.  Want a faster commute? Invest in public transportation infrastructure.

      • PSPS June 7, 2016 (1:23 pm)

        LOL. Yes, let’s remove the express lanes. Then southbound into Seattle on I-5 in the morning will magically become less congested!

    • Jon Wright June 7, 2016 (10:53 am)

      The goal of bus lanes is to move PEOPLE, not vehicles. During peak periods, bus lanes even with “very few busses” move way more people than do general lanes.

    • CMT June 7, 2016 (3:51 pm)

      Totally disagree since I started taking the bus because of the bus lane.  There I was one day last August, stuck in stopped traffic (again) heading toward I-5.  I looked over and saw a bus cruising by in the bus lane.  I gave up my parking spot in my building the next month and have never looked back.  I would reconsider that if they did away with the bus lane.

  • Space Dust June 7, 2016 (8:02 am)

    What happened to Let’s get Seattle moving? 

    All I see is …More bike lanes, Road diets and buses delaying traffic.

    • WSB June 7, 2016 (8:14 am)

      Buses “delaying” traffic? If a bus holds 50 people, that’s 50 single-occupancy vehicles off the road. Envision the bus lane with those 50 vehicles end to end … for EACH rush-hour outbound bus.

  • WD fundie June 7, 2016 (8:02 am)

    If we are removing lanes, how about getting rid of the free rush hour SOV lanes?

    • Qbert June 7, 2016 (8:28 am)

      Agreed, congestion tolling would be a step in the right direction. 

  • AmandaKH June 7, 2016 (8:15 am)

    Brian, you do realize that each bus is the equivalent of 40-60 cars right? 

  • Sunuva June 7, 2016 (8:52 am)

    The bus lane on the bridge can seem underutilized at times, but, I don’t see how removing it would change much for the traffic flow on the bridge. However, I always wonder why the bus lanes on 99 NB after the WS Bridge entrance are 24/7. They are barely used outside of rush hour and it creates the ugliest of merges as drivers come to a full stop so they can get out of the bus lane. That merge backup then cascades all the way back onto the bridge and back south down 99.  If those bus lanes were rush-hour-only, then at non-peak times drivers could utilize much more of the lane to make the merge and relieve the congestion at that point considerably.

    • PanicMonster June 7, 2016 (9:24 am)

      I agree with this.

      • Chemist June 7, 2016 (12:10 pm)

        If they complete the new tunnel, I thought most of the buses will be headed to 1st or 4th, so those bus lanes on 99 might not not be there.

    • Mickymse June 7, 2016 (10:01 am)

      It is because the merge to two lanes has to happen regardless… so WSDOT has simply changed the location of where that merge happens. It creates a safer merge point for vehicles and it maintains an advantage for transit riders. Outside of rush hour, there’s no need for the bus lane, but there’s also no need for an additional general purpose lane either.

      • Sunuva June 7, 2016 (10:44 am)

        Yes, the merge needs to happen at some point, but the point it currently happens causes a lot of problems. If the merge point was moved up to where it actually needs to happen (at the tunnel construction site) then it would primarily only cause a backup on NB 99 with a significant amount of room to spare before that affects the bridge. However, as it is currently, the backup very quickly affects both 99 and the WS Bridge. It only needs to back up a couple hundred yards before the intersections on 99 start getting blocked and the merge points on the bridge get backed up and blocked as well. I do believe that extra amount of SOV lane in non-peak hours could alleviate many problems for this route with minimal downside to bus routes.

  • LarryB June 7, 2016 (9:55 am)

    IMO, the main problem with the bus lane is that the information sign is located where it does absolutely no good for deciding between 99 and taking surface streets. The info sign should be moved to before the start of the bus lane.

    I also think the bus lane should be converted to an HOV lane.

    • Sunuva June 7, 2016 (10:49 am)

      True. I see a lot of people try to switch lanes after they can visually see how 99 or I-5 looks. I also think the other major problem is that the bus lane is between general purpose lanes which causes this crazy criss-cross merge where people have to cross two lanes for every merge.

  • Betty453 June 7, 2016 (10:03 am)

    This is NO accident/ The Enlightened Liberal Elite running this city know that the tax payers will not agree to pay BILLIONS of dollars over decades for there choo choo train’s if traffic runs smoothly and efficiently so taking lanes away , Not fixing the potholes and charging us per mile is all in the master plan. The most ridiculous example was the organization that wanted to tear down the Viaduct and not replace it at all and run 80,000 cars through downtown Seattle. Seriously, look it up there were quite a few lunatics supporting that idea.   That is so revealing of the mindset of the radical Liberal left.   Like a bike rental program that is losing millions so the fix to the problem is to…. Expand it ? Really ?  Try explaining that business concept to a bank in the real world.  Get ready. This lunacy is just beginning.

  • Azimuth June 7, 2016 (10:07 am)

    I’d take working cameras. Better locations too

  • Paul June 7, 2016 (12:01 pm)

    Traffic constriction points from WS to downtown in the morning are where 99/5 are each reduced to 2 lanes. Adding lanes prior to those points, removing bus lanes, adding on-ramps, etc. does nothing to speed up your commute. You’ll just make the “parking lot” bigger.

  • Smitty June 7, 2016 (3:37 pm)

    I agree the information board needs to be moved.  It’s insane that you have to make a decision before knowing which route is least congested.  You’d think the city would WANT traffic to avoid congestion.

  • dsa June 7, 2016 (4:16 pm)

    Project 21     The 4th ave bus ramp on to Spokane st bridge westbound creates dangerous weave.  It is the weave that was closed previously.

  • Neighbor June 7, 2016 (5:10 pm)

    What may appear “under utilized” is actually “free flowing” the desirable condition you want for an HOV or in this case bus lane to encourage use.  To respond to the complaints about bike lanes, I would say you are complaining about people that are actually improving congestion on those roads that you want to drive on. Imagine if all the cyclist were in SOVs how much worst it would be. We have limited resources and government is trying to allocate it to moving the greatest amount of people, not cars. 

  • marcus m June 7, 2016 (6:00 pm)

    Terrible ideas from the comments section!  Love it!

  • Jort June 7, 2016 (7:50 pm)

    The best way to reduce traffic on the bridge is to reduce the number of cars on it. I know this sounds simple, but it is often overlooked. 

    Now, of course, nearly every method of removing private vehicles from the bridge would be unpopular, especially in the Internet comments section of every news-based organization in the city, but it would be very effective at reducing traffic. 

    Nearly 1/3 of the people who use the bridge are on buses. Maybe we should do more for them?

  • Alan June 8, 2016 (1:07 pm)

    I’m curious.  What do 80 zone signs do?

Sorry, comment time is over.