During the pm commute hours today, Metro routed West Seattle-bound buses off 1st Avenue to avert a pre-Seahawks traffic jam, even though the transit system started the week by saying alternate routing wasn’t really a option to relieve the chronic crunch. And suddenly there’s hope it might be an option after all. That came in the form of this statement from King County Executive Dow Constantine, billed :
Since before the Viaduct closure and demolition earlier this year, our community planned together for the ‘Seattle Squeeze’ – several years of construction that makes getting around downtown and the region challenging. We survived ‘Via-doom’ thanks to extraordinary efforts by transportation agencies and the public, who adjusted their schedules and routes.
This summer, downtown commuters have been frustrated as Metro travel times worsened due to continued work on the waterfront, preparations for expanded light rail service in 2021, new commercial developments, and other factors. Riders to West Seattle, Burien, and other locations using the SR99 corridor have experienced especially slow peak commutes in the afternoon.
We have taken steps to ease these impacts, but we are not satisfied and are committed to doing more. King County Metro staff continue to work together with the Seattle Department of Transportation to help keep buses, people, and goods moving.
With the opening this winter of a transit corridor on Columbia Street to the waterfront, and a new Alaskan Way South with transit priority in 2021, the situation will improve. But we are not willing to wait, and pledge to do all we can together to keep buses moving through this challenging period.
Tonight’s Seahawks game provides us the chance to see how an alternate rerouted pathway that uses Fourth Avenue South would work until Alaskan Way is once again open for buses. We hope it is successful and that we will learn new information that offers better solutions. But the downtown Seattle grid is at maximum capacity, and there are challenges with every option available to us.
Our future lies in a robust light rail and bus network, and a waterfront open to all. As the region rapidly evolves, we will do everything in our power to ensure the Seattle Squeeze becomes a minor inconvenience rather than a major headache.
So far we’ve heard mostly positive reviews; we’ll ask tomorrow about what will happen with that “new information.”
Two other related notes:
-City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is asking the mayor to get involved.
-West Seattle bus rider Charlotte has launched an online petition to urge that the buses be moved off 1st. You can “sign” it here.