About the new 99 bus lane: ‘We recognize there’s been a serious problem’

(SDOT camera image showing bus lane’s location, screengrabbed long after commute peak)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

All week long, since the return of a bus lane to northbound Highway 99 north of the West Seattle Bridge, it’s generated complaints, from bus riders (whose buses can’t get to it without slogging through the backed-up exit to 99) as well as drivers. Not just in WSB comments – also for transportation agencies and elected officials.

So we set out to find out, among other things, who’s monitoring its effects.

First big question: Who’s responsible for the decision and its effects?

Highway 99 is a sort of hybrid – though it’s a state highway, the city is involved with some aspects of its operation, such as police response. We started our inquiry with WSDOT’s Laura Newborn. She told us that the decision to restore the bus lane – first mentioned last month – was a joint city (SDOT), state (WSDOT), and county (Metro) decision. She forwarded SDOT’s official statement:

SDOT worked with WSDOT to restore this bus lane in support of King County Metro, who is using the lane for 12 bus routes carrying 30,000 people into downtown Seattle. The lane was originally installed to help provide transit reliability as WSDOT worked to demolish the Alaskan Way viaduct and construct the new tunnel. During this period of transition as travelers adjust to the newly reinstalled bus lane, we encourage travelers to plan for extra time, shift the hours they commute, and avoid driving alone downtown if possible. With the installation of this bus lane, taking the bus is a great transportation option from West Seattle.

In the Transportation Operations Center (TOC), we’ve been monitoring traffic on Northbound SR 99 and on the West Seattle Bridge. Although the recent change in weather and the time it takes for drivers to readjust to the merge may play a part, we are seeing increased congestion at the merge onto Northbound SR99 and on the West Seattle bridge. For transit movement, King County Metro buses using the northbound bus lane on SR99 are functioning well. Bus operations staff are watching these routes closely.

We will continue to collect data as drivers and buses get used to the restored bus-only lane, and we will continue working with our partners to ensure buses are able to move along that pathway. We look forward to the opening of the Columbia St two-way transit pathway and Alaskan Way for buses, which will help provide an improved transit experience for our riders.

Last night, SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe talked about the situation during his return appearance before the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. But before we get to that – one thing not acknowledged in the SDOT statement is that the lane is not exactly the same as it was. That is mentioned, however, by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, in her response to upset constituents, shared with us by her staff. An excerpt:

… While there was a bus lane before the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, it started closer to Downtown, and traffic formerly continued to the exit at Seneca Street, so this is a new situation which is clearly generating new impacts.

I have received several constituent e-mails from West Seattle bus riders and car drivers about delays travelling from West Seattle to Downtown during the morning commute. Backups have extended for both buses and cars on to the West Seattle Bridge, and then on to West Seattle streets such as SW Admiral Way, Fauntleroy Way SW and Delridge Way SW all the way to SW Orchard Street (by Home Depot). My staff has observed and experienced this as well.

As commenters have noted, the resulting bridge backup is in turn backing up West Seattle arterials. Herbold’s staff shared this photo of the Thursday morning backup on Admiral Way hill:

She is asking Zimbabwe to “let me and West Seattle constituents know, 1) what studies and/or traffic modeling was done about this; 2) how SDOT is working with WSDOT and King County Metro about this, and how the backups will be addressed.”

Last night at WSTC (full report including video later today, as this was just one of several topics he and other SDOT staff addressed), Zimbabwe said, “We recognize there’s been a serious problem this week.”

He confirmed that the decision was coordinated between SDOT, WSDOT, and Metro. They had started talking about reinstituting the lane back in spring. Now that it’s back, he said, they see the challenges and are “trying to understand them.” They’re also concerned about tunnel tolling starting November 9th and diverting up to 50 percent of the trafic using the tunnel now, which could further impact traffic at the Dearborn exit. He also mentioned they’re looking forward to the launch of the 2-way Columbia Pathway at year’s end, connecting to a fully available Alaskan Way in January.

Zimbabwe said he rides the bus (having taken the 21X to the meeting) and has also been directly affected, being late to a meeting at Sea-Tac earlier in the week because Route 50 took 45 minutes to get from West Seattle to the light-rail station.

So, both personally and via community complaints, they’re aware of the new 99 problem. But he said they don’t want to have to “scrape off” the bus lane, so they’ve bounced around a lot of possibilities – they hope to land on something with small changes that doesn’t entirely undo the lane. He did not elaborate on options for “changes” nor on a timetable; we’re continuing to follow up on those specifics.

111 Replies to "About the new 99 bus lane: 'We recognize there's been a serious problem'"

  • Chris September 27, 2019 (1:18 pm)

    Is this referring to 30,000 people per day?“12 bus routes carrying 30,000 people into downtown Seattle”Thank in advance:)

  • Meg Halverson September 27, 2019 (1:22 pm)

    I am so grateful for the quality of the reporting in the WSB. I wish other local news did as thorough and thoughtful a job as you do. Thank you for the integrity and tenacity in covering this huge and important issue. 

    • WSB September 27, 2019 (2:44 pm)

      Thank you for the kind words.

      • Lindsey M September 28, 2019 (10:05 am)

        WSB you are so amazing!!!!!  My family loves and appreciate everything you cover and all th news you provide.  Than you!!!!!!

    • Adam October 6, 2019 (11:04 am)

      The WSB is the local news. :)

  • Jort September 27, 2019 (1:25 pm)

    One option is to stop allowing cars, themselves, onto NB99. Transit should have priority at all times over personal automobile transportation in every circumstance and situation, every time. Time to start taking the bus!

    • Barton September 27, 2019 (1:30 pm)

      Maybe you should run for City Council and try to make your dreams a reality.

    • Quora September 27, 2019 (1:33 pm)

      Never going to happen. I own two cars and still take the bus in almost daily and I understand a lot of folks in this city will never take public transportation. Re: the article, I’m very interested in what they end up doing here. More and more people live in West Seattle and the backups that NB 99 creates is unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the city. It’s been a rough year for us over here on the transportation front.

    • 20yearsinWSea September 27, 2019 (2:19 pm)

      Considering how much money the average car driver has to pay to use the roads here, I’m going to have to disagree with this stupid comment. 

    • Seriously September 27, 2019 (2:22 pm)

      Sigh. Another over the top suggestion so ridiculous and unrealistic it can’t even be entertained as a useful suggestion. A large portion of the 99 traffic uses it to go north, which alleviates traffic on i-5. Put this on repeat: taking the bus does not work for everybody, no matter how much you would like them to. 

    • Plf September 27, 2019 (2:34 pm)

      You are so naive or lost in  “I wish land”. Not everyone for a host of reasons  can’t use the bus,  traffic planning needs to be based in reality taking into account all the different modalities.  All of us pay taxes hence planning needs to accommodate all, nothing should be mutually exclusive.  And when dumb decisions are made like the bus lane, intelligent leaders stop and reevaluate, something totally lacking with thus crew of “leaders”

    • sw September 27, 2019 (2:43 pm)

      People – have you not read posts from “Jort” before?  Ignore the trolls, folks.

      • Gene September 27, 2019 (4:37 pm)

        SPOT ON- thank you!!

      • mok4315 September 27, 2019 (6:49 pm)

        Well put, sw. Getting tired of Jort’s ignorant an/or trolling comments. 

    • TR September 27, 2019 (2:50 pm)

      Or better yet- all buses to 1st Ave and cars get 99 exclusively. 

    • David September 27, 2019 (2:59 pm)

      That is great as long as you need to get somewhere the bus goes. Until we have a truly comprehensive public transportation system our city will be forced to use multi-modality. I am part of a carpool that uses an electric car which, to me, seems like a small part of the traffic solution.Also, I would remind you that prior to the buss lane, traffic was working better for both buss and cars. Now it is worse for everybody. How is that a better solution?

      • Tammy October 7, 2019 (1:19 pm)

        Agree, David. It was much smoother for commuters on 99. With the BUS ONLY restriction, it’s getting messy – even for the 5:30-6am traffic.As an aside… I’m curious as to why we have a blinking 40mph sign.  What’s the use and why 40 on a highway?  All it does  it provide multiple brakes and more slowing down of traffic that actually flows quite nicely at 55. 

    • Tony September 27, 2019 (4:30 pm)

      Jort that is a completely unrealistic expectation and a naive comment on your part. 

    • Rumbles September 27, 2019 (4:42 pm)

      I find your oversimplification that “everyone should take the bus” disturbing!  (Yes, read that sentence with a Darth Vader voice)   As mentioned by another commenter, cars pay for the roads— let’s not forget that as we “supposedly” call to abolish them.  

    • Shawn September 28, 2019 (1:37 am)

      One bus lane is probably sufficient, if it was actually solid red pavement from west Seattle to downtown. The problem is merging into and out of the private vehicles.Obviously the entitled car people need to be very strongly discouraged from getting in their cars (triple the car tabs, congestion pricing, etc) and they certainly don’t need two whole lanes just to themselves. But I can’t think of many  worthwhile uses for that extra lane, short of some kind of road diet that is just going to anger the car people without adding any transit value. 

      • Brian September 29, 2019 (7:36 pm)

        Those entitled bus people. Who pays for the roads?

        • WSB October 1, 2019 (11:07 pm)


    • Serious Lee September 30, 2019 (10:26 pm)

      You can’t be serious. Unless you tell me ALL bus rides are free for all. Banning cars on publicly funded STATE highways is illegal!

    • Yaela Ettlinger October 3, 2019 (7:34 am)


  • VH September 27, 2019 (1:25 pm)

    In case anyone wants to email Sam Zimbabwe directly, his email is:  Sam.Zimbabwe@seattle.govThe addition of this newly configured bus lane is a disaster  and needs to be modified immediately.

    • Kayo September 27, 2019 (7:27 pm)

      Thanks.  Emailing now.  What a sh–show.  

  • Mark Schletty September 27, 2019 (1:30 pm)

    Sorry, SDOT,  small changes won’t help. Get rid of the bus lane completely and help the buses and the cars get downtown. When a bus lane actually slows down buses, it obviously isn’t a good idea. This isn’t a matter of drivers needing to adjust,  they know the situation from the  past.  Bus lane there- as in the past, congestion horrible. Bus lane gone- traffic flows well, as recently proven.  Wake up.

    • admiral prince September 27, 2019 (5:28 pm)

      mark hit it on the head, it slows down the buses it was (maybe?) thought to help, and slams other passenger and commercial vehicles. just get rid of the bus lane and return to 3-lanes and the better flow we had going for a bit there.. 

  • old timer September 27, 2019 (1:32 pm)

    So, the official line is to dither further, hoping inspiration for a solution will somehow come forth.  Thanks WSB for pursuing these topics, you are seemingly the only intelligence in the room.

  • rico September 27, 2019 (1:48 pm)

     How about the citizens (Jort aside) give the city a bit of their own medicine.  Ignore the signs, drive in the bus lane while flipping off your constituents.

    • CAM September 27, 2019 (9:05 pm)

      By observation, on the occasions I am forced to drive, a large number of citizens are already doing what you suggest even before the bus lane was back in place. Antisocial behavior doesn’t need further encouragement. 

    • Kristen September 28, 2019 (9:43 am)

      Rico, car drivers were already doing that this week, more than I’ve seen in the past. You could feel everyone’s frustration and lots of speeding cars over the bridge in the ‘bus lane’. Ugh. I have to agree with the comments above that we just saw the easy flow of traffic for the past few weeks, and it came to a screeching halt this week with the bus lane change, doesn’t seem to make sense for bus riders OR car riders…or that bike cop who usually sits at the east side of the bridge – we might need him again to help out next week!

    • Serious Lee September 30, 2019 (10:30 pm)

      Yes!  Thank you for this suggestion

  • Aaron September 27, 2019 (2:21 pm)

    The City Council is trying to inconvenience any and all car drivers.  This is a known fact that they repeat at committee meetings. I ride the bus but there has to be a balance.  Get out and vote for change if you don’t like what is happening now. 

  • GatewoodGuy September 27, 2019 (2:28 pm)

    Thanks for this WSB. I see a lot of stalling and obfuscation here. Almost step by step: “Acknowledge things aren’t working well. Say “It impacts us too”. Offer vague promises of follow up and diffuse responsibility as much as possible. Avoid admitting error or any commitment to fixing the actual problem.” I honestly used to shake my head at people who thought there was some sort of conspiracy by our transportation agencies to actively make traffic worse in Seattle but after this, I’m not so sure anymore. 

    • admiral prince September 27, 2019 (5:30 pm)

      same i used to think the old folks were all conspiracy theorist now i feel like im beginning to believe them. you couldnt intentionally design a blunder like this you could slip into seattle traffic. 

  • Not an idiot September 27, 2019 (2:28 pm)

    You do realize there is a hefty bond that needs to be paid off on the tunnel, right?  No cars means no money.  Enjoy your $15 bus fare everyday.

    • Bike, bus, rent, tech September 28, 2019 (12:05 am)

      Nah Idiot, enjoy your increased property taxes.  Bus fares will be subsidized by houses and sales tax far before rated even get in that ballpark.

      • dftl September 30, 2019 (8:11 pm)


  • psps September 27, 2019 (2:30 pm)

    What’s the big mystery? The bus lane was a colossal blunder.  If “they don’t want to have to ‘scrape off’ the bus lane,” get a new “they” who actually knows what they’re doing to get the job done. Geesh! What’s with these people?

    • GatewoodGuy September 27, 2019 (2:50 pm)

      This is so well stated. If Sam Zimbabwe is having problems understanding what happened here I fear for his cognitive abilities.

    • Olafur September 27, 2019 (4:54 pm)

      Exactly!  Unfortunately, the statement provided reeks of “we don’t want to admit that this, like most of our street and traffic planning, has been yet another colossal mistake and an egregious waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

    • Craig September 27, 2019 (5:49 pm)

      Ok, first let’s be real the 30k bus riders will still get through with the bus lane removed. We’re not setting up a binary of bus riders or cars. In fact the solution of removal of the lane helps both – the only people blocking it are the administration as both the buses and cars want the same thing! Next, they are more concerned with scraping off the paint than the 100,000s of thousands of people stuck in traffic. Finally the hand wringing about not being sure of if it’s happening, or needing more data is not building confidence in any of their decisions. Hey – you work for the betterment of us Seattle commuters, Sam, here’s a chance to help us. What better chance is there? 

  • Joey J. September 27, 2019 (2:38 pm)

    Putting the bus lane back in was a horrible idea. So was putting a bus lane in the middle of the three exit lanes into downtown. Now that Alaskan way has both lanes opened again the exit is flowing a lot better. Who had the bright idea to use traffic data on that exit from when construction was choking thousands of cars down to a single lane that has to go through at least 5 traffic lights before people can turn up the hill into downtown???I’m also still absolutely perplexed that these bus lanes are 24 hours a day. It’s silly and it causes unnecessary congestion whenever there’s a lane blockage of any sort on 99 or the bridge outside of regular commute hours. 7am to 10am is the core commute on the bridge these days so why not ease congestion a bit by unrestricting the bus lane outside of that? Plus we’ll all be a lot less angry at the cars that are ignoring the law and driving in those lanes anyways.

  • WS Taxpayer September 27, 2019 (2:39 pm)

    Make it an HOV lane.  Then everyone can use it.  

    • Lynda Jao September 28, 2019 (12:08 pm)

      +1, incentive to carpool

  • sw September 27, 2019 (2:42 pm)

    After the tunnel opened, traffic flowed fairly freely over the bridge and to the various destinations.  Granted, people have gone back to their old ways and put more cars on the road but nothing has seen as drastic effect on traffic as this lane change.  It’s obviously not working.

  • WS Resident September 27, 2019 (2:54 pm)

    Here’s a thought, traffic was moving just fine for both buses and cars without the bus only lane on NB 99. Now that the bus only lane is back, traffic is backing in West Seattle and NB99 again.  Tell me how this back up of traffic is supposed to help transit commuters? Why not consider making dedicated bus only lanes on 1st and or 4th Avenues? 

    • Kyle September 27, 2019 (4:42 pm)

      Totally agree. We need a bus lane to help buses get through the downtown mess to 99 for the ride home. I can’t imagine anyone asked for a bus lane where there wasn’t a choke point for the morning commute. But apparently our agency leaders discussed it, without community involvement, and are now sidestepping doing anything to fix the situation.

  • Misti September 27, 2019 (3:22 pm)

    I wrote to WSDOT, Seattle DOT and KC Metro yesterday and have received one response:Thank you for your email to the Washington State Department of Transportation regarding the bus-only lane on Hwy 99. The bus-only lane on Hwy 99 is under the jurisdiction of the City of Seattle Department of Transportation. You can contact them through their website. Thank you again for writing to us.

    • WSB September 27, 2019 (3:37 pm)

      Funny, considering both WSDOT and SDOT said yesterday that it was a “joint decision” of their agencies and Metro, which would seem to suggest that undoing, or modifying it, could be a “joint decision” too.

      • sw September 27, 2019 (4:02 pm)

        Interesting.  One would think that the bus lane, being part of Highway 99, would be under WSDOT jurisdiction given it’s a State Highway.  Once the bus hits the exit ramp, then I’d assume SDOT takes over.  KC Metro negotiates with both for bus routes.My guess is that they are in disagreement as to who will fund the “fix” – whatever that will be.

      • Di September 27, 2019 (6:16 pm)

        I got this response today, a reply to an email I sent with questions and offering feedback about the new 99 bus lane:Thank you for writing to the Seattle Department of Transportation. Your concerns can be better answered by the Washington State Department of Transportation, as they have jurisdiction over State Highways.  By way of this e-mail, I am forwarding your concerns to their Northwest Regional Office.  You can reach their public affairs staff directly at (206) 440-4697 or nwpublicaffairs@wsdot.wa.gov.

        • ACG September 27, 2019 (9:25 pm)

          Di and Misty- your emailed responses from WSDOT and SDOT each pointing the finger at each other makes me feel like we are in an “Almost Live” sketch.  Only, sadly, we aren’t. This is absolutely ridiculous.  Thank you both for sharing  

          • Misti September 27, 2019 (10:18 pm)

            I know, right? I emailed back with the line from the official statement referring to it being a joint decision. I then forwarded that email chain to Mr. Zimbabwe (thanks to the person who shared his email addy). The voice of citizens is how decisions like this get changed.

          • Di September 28, 2019 (12:32 am)

            Agreed!  I had to review Misty’s comment and the response that I got from SDOT a few times to make absolutely sure of the absurdity. It would be funny if it wasn’t in the slightest bit funny!

  • don September 27, 2019 (3:35 pm)

    how about toll from the west seattle bridge?  this would get those who really want to drive take this route.  adjust tolls to reduce the traffic. 

    • Grace September 27, 2019 (6:07 pm)

       Regular vehicles are still just riding the bus lane. Maybe change it to a BUS/HOV lane with a “good to go” toll and actually enforce it.

      • CAM September 27, 2019 (9:10 pm)

        Or we get the state legislature to stop dilly dallying and pass legislation to install some cameras and start sending all those people breaking the law $150 tickets in the mail everyday. That’s a much more effective toll. 

  • Jack September 27, 2019 (4:05 pm)

    Something is very wrong in city. Just because a decision was jointly made between different gov’t agencies does not mean it was a competent decision. Traffic volumes in Seattle are decreasing. Congestion is increasing. I’d happier at this point if they’d just stop making any changes.

  • Barton September 27, 2019 (4:10 pm)

    I tend to think Jort is sincere – otherwise the time and effort spent he/she spends commenting here, providing data, etc. would be odd.

    • Gene September 27, 2019 (4:39 pm)

      Oh please-

    • Mel September 27, 2019 (4:40 pm)

      I’ve been around the Internet long enough to know that’s not odd at all.

      • Barton September 28, 2019 (3:16 pm)

        OK, so pathetic is a better word, I guess.  If someone has that much lonely time to devote to that.

    • Rumbles September 27, 2019 (5:44 pm)

      smh 🙄

  • I now drive September 27, 2019 (4:19 pm)

    I took the bus for 6 years going downtown (Denny Triangle, Seattle Children’s) for work from roughly the junction, it took approximately 45 minutes each way, I changed jobs, stopped working in the Triangle, changed jobs again and now I commute to East lake. My first day I took the bus, with a transfer in Pioneer square, a missed bus due to delays both ways it was a 3 hour round trip commute which cost ($5.50 or whatever 2x the fare is with an Orca card). Based on that now I drive, the bus lane change has made me late most days this week. But I still pay for maybe a gallon of gas and save an hour and a half of commute time. I won’t be looking in to public transit again unless 1. It’s an hour or less to go 7 miles. 2. It gets more reliable. 3. It’s not continuously subject to all these shenanigans.

  • Kyle September 27, 2019 (4:36 pm)

    It’s a simple question really. Is the bus lane helping buses reach downtown faster and, if so, by how much? Are buses reaching downtown 10 minutes faster now? I’m in favor of helping buses move large amounts of people faster. However, I rode the bus everyday this week downtown in the morning and it make my commute longer, not shorter. A bus lane that slows down buses just doesn’t make any sense. Our leaders should own the mistake and fix it now. The interdepartment blaming and lack of ownership is truly infuriating. 

  • WGA September 27, 2019 (4:40 pm)

    Scrape it off!What we have here is three lanes turned into two and the constricted flow is backing up not just the 99 exit but all the way back to the arterials. As a result, a bus can’t even get to the wide open bus lane without getting stuck in the same backup.We know a way to keep the traffic moving between W Seattle and the 99 exit. Everyone moved faster, cars and buses.Whatever “model” WSDOT used did not take this into account. A bright new bus lane that buses can’t even get to is pointless. As long as cars and busses will be sharing the constricted area, the solution is to keep that constricted area moving.  Bus riders will be happy with the quicker trips as will drivers.It would also make travel further east move quicker. Sometimes a bus lane is not what it appears to be. if money were no object, a dedicated bus flyover from before the 99 exit to connect with that 99 bus lane further north might be the only real way to shorten bus travel times into downtown. Painting a bus lane that does not connect to anything is a waste of paint and a third lane to keep all traffic moving.Scrape it off!

  • Mel September 27, 2019 (4:43 pm)

    “But he said they don’t want to have to “scrape off” the bus lane…”Admit your mistake and scrape off the bus lane.

  • Zipperer September 27, 2019 (4:48 pm)

    Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  Zipper.  

  • skeeter September 27, 2019 (5:20 pm)

    Jort is right, of course.  If driving a car is faster than taking transit it means we are not efficiently using our limited right-of-way.  Do whatever it takes to speed up the busses.  That puts more people in busses.  And that then speeds up cars since fewer people are in cars.  If you wanna go fast in your car, advocate for more bike lanes and transit improvements.  

    • Tsurly September 27, 2019 (7:21 pm)

      Well said. It’s also worth point out that through all the Viadoom/Maximum Constraint/Squeeze drama, my bicycle commute never really changes. With that fresh asphalt on Avalon it’s been smooth sailing to work everyday this week.

      • Kayo September 28, 2019 (6:23 am)

        I bike commuted all summer and it was great.  Took me 30-35 mins to lower QA/waterfront.  Planning to hop back on my bike this week.  Just have to get more gear for the cold/rain/dark.  

    • Mike September 27, 2019 (9:58 pm)

      Busses blocking busses is why bussing takes forever.  Cars don’t take an entire intersection to make a turn, busses do, especially articulated busses (dumbest bus design for Seattle).  Riding my bike is consistently 55 min door to door each way, then add a shower and change of clothes at work.  Bussing plus lightrail is 55min to 1hr and 15min on average each way (I have had 2+hr).  Bussing plus transfer to another bus is 2hr and 15min min each way with transfer time.  Driving to light rail, lightrail to work is 45min almost every time each way.  The bus sucks and it’s always another bus blocking a bus that jams up traffic for the bus.  Metro has horrible planning for the routes.  It’s worse when the bus never shows up or zooms by because a new driver didn’t know to stop for you.

      • Lace September 28, 2019 (9:25 am)

        This is a totally incompetent comment. A bus full of 75 people turning is faster than 75 SOV’s in a line waiting to turn. You are missing the entire point. Like I CAN’T 🙄

        • Mike September 28, 2019 (11:51 am)

          Hmmm, personal cars aren’t allowed on 3rd Ave.  So your comment is 100% bogus. You can’t what?

  • mnw September 27, 2019 (5:23 pm)

    I also want to know what studies were done before making this decision. Anyone with common sense could see that the removal of the bus lane after the tunnel opened immediately lessened traffic. The fact that 3 different agencies all agreed to reinstate it is truly baffling to me. I can’t imagine “scraping off” the bus lane is really that difficult. Give me a break. Admit it was a bad decision and remove it. 

  • Elikapeka September 27, 2019 (5:24 pm)

    They don’t want to scrape off the bus lane????  Why did they put it up in the first place?  There was no problem for buses or vehicles and they created one.  Seems a pretty simple fix to me – scrape off the bus lane or else just put up signage that the lane is open to all traffic.    Own the mistake.

  • dsa September 27, 2019 (5:29 pm)

    Have not driven the new bus lane, but the old one seemed to work.  What is the difference?  Does this one have a much shorter SOV escape weave (merge out) from the bus lane?

  • Kanakitty September 27, 2019 (6:01 pm)

    Have paint scraper will scrape for free!

    • Matt P September 27, 2019 (6:56 pm)

      We should all just go out there this weekend with cones and get it done.  Then they can absolve themselves of having to admit the mistake and do it.

  • Alan E Brittenham September 27, 2019 (6:43 pm)

    Here is what accountability should mean:When the decision was made by SDOT, WASHDOT and Metro, it must have been through a series of meetings.  The conclusions of those discussions was then sent to higher levels of management, and a decision was made based on them.  So the individual people and their titles should be listed in the report, along with who their recommendations were sent to, when the decision was reached, and by whom.  When the press has to deal with special agents and have no access to the actual decision-makers, communication becomes more difficult.Accountability means that if I am the person who will make a decision affecting the people who live in the neighborhoods, I need to be willing to stand up in front of those people and hear them out.  If it becomes clear that it was a bad decision in the first place, I need to work with them to find a solution, not hide behind the PR section.  Does that make sense?  :-{)}

  • Elizh September 27, 2019 (6:53 pm)

    Instead of guessing, speculating, or scraping, why is no one running computer simulations of these traffic problems? This would also help the queuing problems at the ferry terminals.  Some form of auto traffic simulation has been around since we used punched cards.  There has to be someone who could buy or write code to solve this.

  • Anu September 27, 2019 (7:04 pm)

    While the added bus lane is causing issues, let’s not let the city (or whoever is responsible for this) off the hook for the disaster that is the 35th and Avalon construction. I took the C line at 5.30pm from downtown and it was 6.35pm by the time I was at Morgan Junction. More than half of this commute time was spent in West Seattle after getting off the bridge. This is unacceptable! 

  • Steve Alki September 27, 2019 (7:15 pm)

    Open the darn lane back up. Can’t get out of west seattle for the life of me. This be causing me an extra 40 minutes to get downtown. Some socialist BS at work here….

  • Doug September 27, 2019 (7:20 pm)

    They knew this mess was going to be the result. This was a deliberate move to push more people out of their cars. Keep the pressure up or they will never do anything about it. Change it back! 

  • Kayo September 27, 2019 (7:22 pm)

    I just started commuting to SLU this week.  Yesterday was my first bus commute.  It was a complete cluster.  I timed my bus commute.  It took 25 minutes just to get from Hudson to the bus lane on Delridge.  (Maybe 6 blocks?)  It took 45 more minutes to get to SLU.  I was late for a meeting even though I gave myself over an hour.  I also live in North Delridge close to the bridge and our supposed Greenway is now a rush hour freeway in the morning thanks to the construction mess on 35th/Avalon and the bus lane.  I even got flipped off trying to back out of my driveway by someone using our street this week.  Great way to start my morning.  My kids need a crossing guard to get to their bus stop because there are so many angry drivers coming down our street.  Prior to the reappearance of the bus lane, traffic was moving much better out of the neighborhood.  Meanwhile, when I drove my car to SLU this week, once I actually got out of the WS bottleneck, 99N was wide open.  Hardly anyone on it compared to before the bus lane was added back.  It took me an average of about 30 minutes in my car vs 70 minutes on the bus. Why?  Because no one can get out of WS and to 99N now.  The whole thing is so stupid!  I want to commute on the bus.  I don’t want to drive.  I am not sure I have a choice given the shitty bus options currently available.  This needs to be fixed.   It is a mess.  No one, including the buses, can get out of WS.  

  • ArborHeightsRes September 27, 2019 (7:29 pm)

    Is Metro being charged for using the tunnel? How is the city/state going to pay for the bonds if commuters stop using 99 because of their bonehead decisions to let transit use it and make it even more difficult for people to commute anywhere. West Seattle gets the short hand of the stick when it comes to transportation, public or private, all of the time. We pay, others get to use conveniently.

    • Lagartija Nick September 28, 2019 (12:35 pm)

      Nice rant, but Metro does not use the tunnel.

  • SMP September 27, 2019 (7:32 pm)

    sitting on a bus now…driving would have been 30 min….light rail and bus over 70 minutes right now to get from UW to Morgan Park WS.  The bus routes do not make sense and zigzag all over. GET IT TOGETHER SEATTLE!! You are a big city now…start acting like it!

  • Jim P. September 27, 2019 (7:52 pm)

    I think they need to quit dinking around with fiddly changes until things are done and cleaned up and settled down and we see whether or not activating tolls in the tunnel does nasty things to 99 and downtown as many, including me, suspect will occur.Less capacity and no exits into downtown still strikes me as a particularly bad decision from the day it was made.  Add in the mostly unexpected and certainly unplanned-for massive growth in high rises and population downtown and surprise, it’s gonna keep getting worse.

  • John September 27, 2019 (8:26 pm)

    Look ahead two months to when tunnel tolling begins. The current bus lane, if unleashed to general traffic duty, could host the front end of multiple ten mile backups of pennywise cars & their minders as they execute a spend-an-hour-save-a-dollar merge at the WS bridge junction.  Please do not scrape anything yet.

    • GatewoodGuy September 28, 2019 (10:05 am)

      If that’s a concern, then they should delay tolling to coincide with the re-opening of the re-configured Alaskan Way in January. 

  • Kc September 27, 2019 (8:35 pm)

    Just Drive in it!!! Risk the ticket. Then protest the ticket in most cases just pleading your case gets it cut in half.thats the cost of a   Little more than a tank of gas.  We have the opportunity to change the face of City Council  one them out and the bus lane they rode in onSdot. Well they are appointed. Job security for a job poorly done

  • Nino September 27, 2019 (8:48 pm)

    99 pre-tunnel had two main slow down areas:1) West Seattle north merge with cars moving over because of the bus lane2) The curves in the road around the tunnel constructionAnyone who has driven it in the past few months can see that both improvements improved traffic flow for everyone, cars and buses.   Only someone who doesn’t have that perspective thought it a good idea to re-introduce 1)

  • AMD September 27, 2019 (10:07 pm)

    I know it was several months back now, but does anyone else remember the scores of comments about how bad traffic was once they closed the viaduct and everyone had to get used to the new street configuration?  There was much lamenting about buses getting stuck at the Dearborn turn because the merging was bad, and so on.  SDOT made some adjustments on their end (signal timing) but also people adapted to the change and it smoothed out quite a bit without any changes to the lanes.  I’m not saying things will definitely get better with the longer wait times following the bus lane reinstatement, but I do understand SDOT’s “wait and see” approach for the short term.  Some things do just get better when people know what to expect.  We had that lane before and it helped.  It’s hard to imagine that it’s suddenly not helpful now.

    • Sunuva October 1, 2019 (7:05 am)

      From what I recall, that bus lane caused the exact same problem before. I remember crowing about it here on WSB way back then.

  • Canton September 27, 2019 (11:19 pm)

    Now that the old earthquake prone viaduct is down, let’s build a new one! All the old downtown exits NB, Seneca, and Western. Southbound, the Columbia st entrance to smooth sailing for busses and cars heading our way!… One can dream, right?!?

  • flimflam September 28, 2019 (7:40 am)

    this should be interesting – nodoby likes to admit they are/were wrong, but cities/states/public officials even more so. usual routine is to double down, sometimes angrily, and not come close to admitting fault.

  • Scooterista September 28, 2019 (8:52 am)

    There is an existing N-S transit-only corridor already in place in SODO that runs approximately the same length as the part of 99 the buses use . The bus lane on the WS Bridge already takes buses within yards of the First Ave exit.  Why is this option not being more fully utilized in place of a dedicated bus lane on 99 that has utterly borked WS transportation?I live and work in WS and used to take the 21 and 50 to work, which got me there 10 mins before I needed to clock on. The 50 has become so unreliable that I have to take the 128 and arrive 25 mins early in order not to be late. It is beyond ridiculous that I have to leave the house almost an hour before I am due at my job just over 2 miles from my house, and all because we chose to be a one-car household in Seattle. It would be unworkable if we had kids. The city’s anti-car agenda is very family-unfriendly, to say the least. 

    • Matt P September 28, 2019 (12:29 pm)

      It’s really anti-transportation if the bus doesn’t get you there any faster and is usually slower.

    • E.J. September 29, 2019 (1:07 am)

      Because First has become so congested that even with the bus-only lane, things travel slower than molasses in January.  With the Lander Street project still underway, all the buses that used to travel First to Lander to Fourth now all travel First to Edgar Martinez. I live right by the entrance to the WS Bridge and it regularly takes me 45+ minutes to get to work (Pioneer Square), when it used to be closer to 20-30 minutes. Routing more buses to First isn’t a viable option.

  • Dunno September 28, 2019 (12:10 pm)

    No need to scrap it, just put up temp signs, “Bus lane open to all” until problem is solved.  Very expensive to put on or take off the pavement.

  • RSP September 28, 2019 (3:22 pm)

    Thanks WSB for staying on this issue affecting thousands of people each week. Given all of the complex transit issues we deal with, it’s unacceptable for our leaders to self inflict additional, unnecessary congestion impacting quality of life in Seattle.  Looking forward to getting this resolved by continuing to keep the pressure on SDOT, WSDOT and Metro. 

  • 1994 September 28, 2019 (8:31 pm)

    SDOTs attempts at improvements and moving traffic have not been successful over the past 7 or 10 years.  Even their own statistics show this. Data from SDOT shows 39 crashes involving pedestrians and drivers resulting in serious injury during the first half of 2019 – the highest number of crashes since 2010!!! Improvements by SDOT have not worked. Getting out of West Seattle seems to be continuously impeded by the so called improvements. A most recent example is along S Cloverdale Street and 5th Ave in South Park where there is a new 10 or 12 foot wide sidewalk where hardly anybody walks, and a new curb bulb at 5th and Cloverdale. Cloverdale eastbound looks like it may no longer have a left turn lane onto 5th Ave because it no longer has a wide enough street . I e-mailed the city asking that very question and the reply was that of course the left turn lane for 5th Ave will be restored….. I will be amazed if they restore it. Just another example of an improvement that is strangling the movement of traffic. 

  • PNWPatsFan October 1, 2019 (12:22 am)

    Honest question in all this – if the objective is to commute to downtown Seattle, why aren’t more of you (us) taking the Water Taxi?  Seems like its immune to all these shenanigans.  Or is it that it’s just an option for those living in Junction/Admiral?  I am considering changing jobs from a work-at-home situation to downtown and am curious.

    • Sue H October 1, 2019 (10:05 am)

      Even when I lived in the Alaska Junction I found that the water taxi took way too long between the shuttle, waiting on the boat, the boat ride itself, and then having to get to my office from there.  I’m also disabled, so having to keep changing modes of transport can be challenging, plus more things to get delayed and miss connections. It’s easier for me (and faster) to just get on one bus and take it directly to my office, especially now that I’m down in Gatewood. I have used it as an option during exceptional circumstances where you can’t get a bus out of downtown due to some traffic or weather problem, but that’s very rare.

  • songstorm October 1, 2019 (7:02 am)

    When I lived in N. Admiral, the Water Taxi was a dream.  Now I’m south of Morgan Junction and it would take me 35-45 minutes just to get to the dock.  Google estimates 23 minutes for sailing + walking to my office which is on the south end of downtown, and also figure probably 5-10 minutes waiting for the boat, and it’ll be at least an hour, with multiple connections.  If you’re closer to the dock, then I absolutely would encourage the water taxi option but it’s highly dependent on where you live/work.

  • Cayley Crotty October 2, 2019 (9:35 pm)

    It also would be helpful if they limited the low bridge from opening during high volume hours. It seems to happen less, but when they do close this option, it has a ripple effect.

  • Alexia Taucher October 8, 2019 (1:16 pm)

    Hi WSB! Any updates on what is being done to resolve the traffic caused by this change? It is getting worse each day! 

Sorry, comment time is over.