A WSB reader texted:
Wondering if you might do a story on the new traffic violation cams on the high bridge – focusing on bus lane violators. I commute daily and take the 1st Ave exit right after the 99 exit and I wait until the last set of red painted lines that say BUS ONLY but I got a cautionary warning letter for this as a traffic violation . In the future the fine will be $75. Can you investigate where/ when it is legal to move over To the far right lane to exit on first?
It’s been three months since the last announcement about the new camera enforcement – when SDOT said in early September that installation was imminent. So first we asked SDOT if the camera – part of a “pilot” program also involving other locations in the city – was indeed up and running and citing. Yes: “The transit lane traffic safety camera on the West Seattle Bridge (high bridge), just east of State Route 99, has been activated. The first time someone is caught in a violation, they will be mailed a warning letter. For any new violations after that, they will be mailed a $75 ticket.”
How many warnings/tickets? SDOT refused to say:
This camera is part of an ongoing pilot program intended to evaluate the effectiveness of automated traffic safety camera enforcement in transit only lanes. The draft report on the effectiveness of the program will be submitted to the State Legislature in July 2024 and will also be available publicly at that time.
To get a report sooner, the spokesperson replied, we’d have to file a public-disclosure request.
To the original texter’s question, about the exact location to avoid if you don’t want to be cited: “The entire bus lane, which begins approximately 0.5 miles west of the exit to NB SR99, is restricted to buses only. The camera is located east of the exit to NB SR99. Drivers taking the exit to NB SR99 will not be impacted by the camera.” Here’s the design-document excerpt that SDOT sent us for a similar question pre-installation, showing the enforcement zone in yellow-green:
Meantime, no hint yet of when newly authorized camera types – like “racing” – might be installed, but we’re continuing to follow up.