FOLLOWUP: 4th Avenue temporary bus lane installation planned Saturday

In our report last night on a City Hall briefing about changes related to the Viaduct-to-Tunnel transition – aka #Realign99 – we mentioned temporary bus lanes, including the 4th Avenue S. offramp from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. We asked SDOT after the briefing when that work would be done. They didn’t have an answer then – but today, they’ve announced work will happen tomorrow:

Temporary bus lane construction will occur on Saturday, January 5.

To manage the increased volume of traffic on our city’s streets and changing traffic patterns in advance of the SR closure beginning Friday, January 11, we’re rechannelizing key streets downtown starting Saturday, January 5. Streets include the Spokane Street Viaduct, the eastbound off-ramp to 4th Ave S and a short section of 4th Ave S approaching Spokane St.

These dedicated bus-only lanes will allow buses coming in from West Seattle to access the SODO busway and improve bus travel time throughout the SR 99 closure.

The graphics included with our Street changes for SR 99 closure begin January 5, 2019 flyer show what’s changing.

Here’s what you can expect:
On the Spokane Street Viaduct in the eastbound direction, the right lane will be converted to a bus only lane from 1st Ave S and will continue to the 4th Ave S exit to the signalized intersection at 4th Ave S. On 4th Ave S, we are adding a short bus-only lane heading northbound approaching Spokane St. These changes will be in place by 11 PM on Saturday, January 5.

To accommodate this change, we have modified the island separating the north and southbound lanes on 4th Ave at Spokane St and a third northbound lane was added in December.

Rain is expected to occur after Saturday, January 5, so these lanes will be installed prior to these weather impacts. Completing this work one week early ensures that we avoid delays associated with weather for this installation in order to allow buses to begin using the lane on January 11. So, while we are installing these lanes on Saturday, January 5, there won’t be any buses using this lane until after 8 PM on January 11.

Please note that these are temporary bus lanes and will be restored to general travel lanes open to all vehicles in mid-February when the northbound off-ramp to Dearborn St is opened and King County Metro resumes northbound service on the SR 99 corridor.

And another reminder – the first #Realign99 closures start tonight – the Atlantic and Royal Brougham exits from/to 99 in the stadium zone close permanently at 10 pm tonight, exactly one week before the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s 10 pm January 11th permanent closure.

44 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: 4th Avenue temporary bus lane installation planned Saturday"

  • BlairJ January 4, 2019 (11:01 am)

    The New Lane Configuration diagram shows north pointing the wrong way.

    • dsa January 4, 2019 (12:58 pm)

      North is normally pointed up.  The diagram is upside down, rookie mistake.

      • WSB January 4, 2019 (1:16 pm)

        I’ve e-mailed SDOT about this. If they don’t fix, I’ll crop the map to avoid confusion.

  • bolo January 4, 2019 (11:03 am)

    Still trying to make sense of that graphic. The map’s N(orth) pointer makes no sense. Shouldn’t that be pointing in the South direction?

    Why do I get the idea that much of this is being formulated as we go along? Shouldn’t a billion dollar project have a well thought out mitigation plan in place from the beginning?

    • flimflam January 4, 2019 (1:59 pm)

      true but the city leadership has taken the “make it up as we go along” before….

  • newnative January 4, 2019 (11:36 am)

    North arrow looks like it’s pointing in the correct direction to me. We’re talking north of Spokane Street, right? 

  • ET January 4, 2019 (12:16 pm)

    Ditto to BOLO – I believe they have North in the wrong direction. Gives me great faith in this process.

  • Lola January 4, 2019 (12:18 pm)

    Remember the Mayor just appointed whomever that General Guy is just the other day to be head of the Commision  for this 99 Tunnel.  He will be making a cool $195,000 a year for his ideas on the revision and how to make traffic run more smoothly.  Lets see how this plays out. 

  • Peter January 4, 2019 (12:26 pm)

    This may actually speed up bus service to downtown by avoiding the SS Viaduct to 99 merge. If this works out, we should consider making this permanent.

    • ross January 7, 2019 (9:46 am)

      Hell no, this has already slowed down normal traffic through the area…

    • Matthew January 9, 2019 (7:49 am)

      I guess buses aren’t normal…I agree with you Peter and I’m usually in a car on the 4th avenue ramp each morning. 

  • CarDriver January 4, 2019 (12:40 pm)

     Bolo. The mayor just hired a new “czar” for who knows how much salary to coordinate all this. Clearly there’s NOBODY currently employed by the city that is capable.

    • Cynical girl January 4, 2019 (12:44 pm) $200,000.00 a year and hired a week before the closure. 

      • CAM January 4, 2019 (9:20 pm) isn’t exactly an unbiased source. Beyond that, this is a 2 year period of traffic impacts that this individual will be expected to plan for and also make rapid adjustments to accommodate, all for the benefit of car drivers. I’d think car drivers would be happy that they were getting special attention? It obviously would have been better if he was brought in earlier but now is better than later. 

  • Mj January 4, 2019 (12:45 pm)

    CarDriverAnd the so call Traffic Zarr is not even a transportation expert!MJ

  • lox January 4, 2019 (1:36 pm)

    Maybe I’m missing something, but with all the news, articles and graphics, I haven’t found anything that is a clear and concise list of actual route options into Seattle during the closure.  I understand that buses and water taxis, etc. are encouraged-but what if I do have to drive? Is there a list of actual route options from West Seattle? Thank you. 

    • WSB January 4, 2019 (2:00 pm)

      We’re planning a page that’ll have that type of info. But in short:
      From the eastbound bridge, 1st, 4th, I-5
      From the eastbound low bridge, Spokane to 1st, 4th, etc.
      Or from south WS you can get to 1st and 4th via the 1st Avenue South Bridge, which you can access via both going down Highland Park Way and Roxbury to 509 …

      • lox January 4, 2019 (2:20 pm)

        Thank you so much.

  • dcn January 4, 2019 (1:47 pm)

    I was hoping this wouldn’t happen. My Viadoom path to work was going to be Beacon Hill to I-90. I usually take 4th Ave S to the I-90 entrance at the stadium. But now, the same lane that connects to I-5 south and Columbian Way to Beacon Hill will also be the the only lane allowed for cars heading into downtown via 4th Ave S. And there will be thousands more people trying to use it due to the closure of 99 into downtown. And, no, bus commuting is not an option for me–it would take 3 buses and about 2.5 hours each way to get to my workplace. I also cannot flex my hours, nor work from home. I’m sure there are thousands of other people who have limited commute options similar to mine. I think requiring all the car traffic going to I-5 South, Beacon Hill, and downtown via 4th Ave S to use a single lane in order to prioritize West Seattle buses headed into downtown is a huge mistake. We’ll see it play out into backups that extend onto West Seattle arterials, which will also affect buses’ ability to get to downtown.

    • David January 4, 2019 (6:55 pm)

      The Spokane St viaduct between 1st and 4th Ave is 3 lanes wide. Thus, there are still 2 lanes for general traffic. 

      • dcn January 4, 2019 (9:18 pm)

        The left lane is usually dedicated and backed up for I-5 Northbound. The middle lane is the only one that leads to Beacon Hill and I-5 South. The right lane is currently an exit-only lane for 4th Ave S, but will become a bus-only lane. This means that all the cars wishing to exit at 4th ave will have to be in the middle lane that also leads to I-5 South and Beacon Hill. Removing the right exit lane for general purpose use is sure to back up cars trying to get off at 4th onto the viaduct, thus blocking access to I-5 South and Beacon Hill. Already, the timing of that light at the exit ramp onto 4th Ave can back up due to congestion in the northbound direction. There are times when the light is green, but no cars can turn northbound because of the backup at Spokane St. With the extra traffic from all the South-end people exiting 509 at Michigan street to take 4th ave northbound, I’m expecting the exit ramp to be a parking lot extending onto the Spokane St viaduct. Buses carrying the lucky ones who do work downtown will be the only ones able to get reliably through.

        • KM January 5, 2019 (6:48 am)

          That’s still two lanes for general traffic, though. One for transit, two for GP.

          • Paul January 5, 2019 (1:17 pm)

            DCN is absolutely correct on how this will play out.  I also travel to the east side – normally using 4th.  Having a single exit lane for cars that is shared as the single I5 south/Beacon Hill thru lane will be a nightmare.  The left lane is backed up for I5-North each morning.  On a normal day, the worst part of my commute is getting to I90 – easily a 30 min process from West Seattle.  These changes and the extra traffic will easily push this over an hour.

        • T January 5, 2019 (2:52 pm)

          I agree Den. I think the people that cut across the double white lines from the middle/through lane will also add to the problem of getting to I 5 s and Beacon Hill. 

  • Lola January 4, 2019 (3:13 pm)

    I am taking all side streets to get to work from WS to Georgetown.  I will let you know if I find a good one. 

  • dsa January 4, 2019 (3:27 pm)

    Unfortunately buses and more SOVs using the 4th st exit lane off Spokane St Bridge is going to impact access to the *southbound* I-5 on ramp from WS.  And since both lanes will be over loaded, access to Beacon Hill is going to be problematic.

  • KA January 4, 2019 (3:59 pm)

    Look on the bright side, if transportation to downtown is bad enough maybe it will lower West Seattle property prices and property taxes! :-)

  • TJ January 4, 2019 (4:02 pm)

    I figured there would be a “let’s make the bus lane permanent” comment. I don’t even have a crystal ball

  • 1994 January 4, 2019 (7:39 pm)

    Have the SDOT people considered having all of the buses take the 1st Ave S exit and either go north onto 1st or continue east and have a special left turn for buses only onto northbound 4th Ave? As another person mentioned having buses exiting on 4th is probably going to back up the entire bridge heading east in the morning.

  • CAM January 4, 2019 (7:49 pm)

    I may have missed this recently but has Metro announced their final plan for the stops that the C line will make on 4th, Prefontaine, and 3rd? 

    • Peter January 5, 2019 (11:09 am)

      The C will stop at all it’s regular stops on 3rd; it does not stop between West Seattle and downtown. 

      • CAM January 5, 2019 (11:45 am)

        I really don’t understand why it isn’t going to stop at all of the rapid ride stops along that route. That makes no sense. Either you can take it and walk a mile in the reverse direction after getting off or you are forced to take one of the buses stuck in a wall of traffic on first avenue. The C could simply stop at Prefontaine and Columbia (or even just one of those) and it would be able to serve a greater number of commuters and the bus would get uncrowded a lot earlier by people getting off where they actually work. It’s driving right past those stops and will likely be stuck behind buses stopping at those stops so why not just open the bus doors?

  • JC January 4, 2019 (9:33 pm)

    I’ll be riding my bike to SODO, and taking the light rail at 5th and Lander. Can trains please be kept off the tracks during rush hour for our commute?

  • Mj January 5, 2019 (12:42 pm)

    Review of the SDoT diagram indicates two way traffic (yellow paint) on the ramp? and what has already been mentioned the north arrow is pointed south.  Further it is typical to allow right turn traffic to use a bus lane to turn right.  The way it’s configured the ramp could experience significant queuing if this typical operation is not allowed for.

    • WSB January 5, 2019 (1:00 pm)

      SDOT btw said thanks to those who noticed the backward graphic and were fixing it – I need to go get and substitute the fixed graphic.

    • CAM January 5, 2019 (1:42 pm)

      That off ramp has two lanes that split into 3 at the base of the ramp at the stop light. The center lane allows cars to turn right, left, or go straight. The yellow lines indicate the designated bus lane in the drawing, a double yellow lane marker on the road would indicate two way traffic. 

  • Cliffrd January 5, 2019 (2:21 pm)

    WSB. Have you heard what will become of the right lane on Eastbound bridge??. There’s nothing it’ll exit too until the tunnel is open.

    • CAM January 5, 2019 (11:48 pm)

      I would hope it would be blocked off, at least after the point the lane to its left becomes a bus only lane. Logically, there would be no way for anyone to legally use that lane if they had to cross the bus lane to get out of it. 

    • WSB January 6, 2019 (12:17 am)

      Far as I know, same thing as all past Highway 99 closures – it’ll just be blocked off.

  • MJ January 5, 2019 (2:37 pm)

    While SDoT is fixing graphic, they need to correct the coloring.  Yellow denotes bi-directional traffic.  White is the correct color for same direction traffic.

    • CAM January 5, 2019 (11:50 pm)

      The graphic has a legend which defines what the yellow lines mean for this particular image. I don’t think this is intended to be an exact artist’s rendition of what the road will look like. 

  • A-Red January 6, 2019 (8:03 am)

    Maybe install a roundabout at the 4th Ave S exit? That might keep traffic flowing better…

  • Tom January 6, 2019 (8:36 am)

    The city and the gang should be focusing on traffic police at important intersections  and vital streets to keep them moving. I am a dreamer,  the cops can hardly direct traffic into the Mariners parking garage.I am waiting for these graphics become reality, hopeful . Get to costco now !

  • chemist January 6, 2019 (8:41 am)

    I had a family member (and public transit enthusiast) arrive at SeaTac and take Link up to Sodo around 11:30 PM on Saturday.  Must have been initial opening hours of the new bus lane on the 4th ave exit (which the overhead signs don’t seem to mention).  4th Ave’s bus lane revisions (and even lane markings) north of the Spokane Viaduct/WSB have reflectors.  The lane markings between the EB viaduct/4th Ave exit going north were not reflective at all and didn’t have the pop-up markers.   With the sheen of rain, puddles, possibly old markings being skinned/ground over, and night road glare, I couldn’t see any of the markings in that area last night, at least from the low angle of a sedan-type car.I’m going to fire off a quick e-mail to whatever contact I can find for viadoom too, but the temporary lane revisions in that area need some work, particularly in this darker/wetter section of the year.

Sorry, comment time is over.