(Framegrab from WSDOT camera looking south over new exit ramp, February 2018)
The viaduct-to-tunnel transition has meant big changes for people riding Metro buses between West Seattle and downtown, and the changes aren’t over yet. After the Alaskan Way Viaduct was permanently closed in January, the buses that used it moved to the first phase of interim pathways until the new Alaskan/Dearborn ramp opened. Then, the buses moved to the second-phase interim pathway – 1st Avenue. Starting with Metro’s service change this Saturday (March 23rd), Pioneer Square stops are being added, as reported here Tuesday. But riders have observed – often in comments following our weekday transit/traffic coverage – that the absence of a stop is far from the only concern since the ramp opened. So we asked Metro what they’re doing about the new concerns. Here’s how spokesperson Torie Rynning answered:
Travel times are better than during the viaduct closure, but not as good as the viaduct travel times. We’re still monitoring the travel times and the new bus stops on 1st Avenue should help customers. Our interim pathway is on 1st Avenue to avoid the direct effects of the ongoing viaduct demolition and upcoming waterfront construction. As you know, once these projects are completed, Metro will move permanently to using Alaskan Way (and Columbia Street) to get into and out of downtown for West and South Seattle transit service. There will be a bus lane in each direction 24/7 between Dearborn Street and Columbia Street on Alaskan Way, and on Columbia Street from Alaskan Way to 3rd Avenue.
The longstanding estimate for how much longer that would take has been “9 months to a year” (as shown here) – we’ll follow up to see where that stands.
P.S. If you have something to say to Metro – about this, or something else – here’s how.