Seattle Plans to Lengthen and Improve Third Avenue Transit Mall in 2024


Subsequent 12 months, Third Avenue downtown will see a lot of upgrades, together with an extension of the transit mall itself. (Ryan Packer)

The Seattle Division of Transportation (SDOT) has introduced a slate of enhancements to Third Avenue, town’s busiest bus hall, that embody a deliberate extension of transit-only restrictions three extra blocks north into Belltown, in addition to different amenity and security upgrades. Most of those upgrades are set to be applied in 2024.

Since 2018, basic objective automobiles have been prohibited from travelling multiple block on Third Avenue downtown for the majority of the day, however solely between Yesler Means and Stewart Avenue. However the road sees vital bus volumes nicely into Belltown, so extending the transit mall is a logical step, and one transit advocates (The Urbanist included) have been calling for since 2019, with a request to increase bus lanes all the best way to Denny Means.

After the Metropolis’s deliberate change, automobile drivers won’t be able to journey multiple block between Stewart and Blanchard Avenue, and taking left turns onto the road from Lenora and Virginia Avenue will even grow to be prohibited.

By fall of 2024, restrictions on basic objective automobiles on Third Avenue can be prolonged three blocks north into Belltown. (Metropolis of Seattle)

A metropolis web site initially listed the three-block extension of the transit mall as scheduled for this fall, however that timeline has now been modified to fall of 2024. SDOT Press Secretary Ethan Bergerson attributed this modification in timeline to a have to “higher align with different deliberate transit enhancements on third Ave.”

A 2019 examine of Third Avenue discovered excessive transit utilization all through the hall, together with the Belltown part that doesn’t but have bus-only restrictions. Downtown Seattle Affiliation)

The delay underscores the sluggish tempo of implementing high-impact transit enhancements, with a northbound bus solely lane on Rainier Avenue between Mount Baker and Judkins Park Station taking greater than two years to implement, and set to be put in subsequent 12 months as nicely. With an increasing number of staff returning to in-person work, including spot enhancements that get transit riders previous site visitors backups is turning into extremely pressing, however the variety of miles of latest devoted bus corridors that town has been ready so as to add just lately has been very restricted.

King County Metro has introduced a plan to minimize bus service by 4% within the fall because of its labor scarcity, however sadly little appears to be within the works to get extra out of the service hours we do have. An aggressive rollout of bus lanes might stem the bleeding from service cuts.

Whereas some bus-only lanes exist between Stewart Avenue and Blanchard Avenue proper now, all the stretch will grow to be a full transit mall matching the remainder of Third Avenue. (Ryan Packer)

On the opposite finish of the hall, greater bodily modifications are deliberate. SDOT will make everlasting modifications that have been piloted round Third Avenue and Yesler Means final 12 months, when lanes have been narrowed to cut back crossing distances for individuals strolling. Now just one lane feeds onto the first Third Ave hall from the south, however this hasn’t had a detrimental affect on bus journey occasions. The everlasting enhancements will even realign the bike crossing throughout Third, and add extra curb bulbs that cut back crossing distances on extra legs of the sophisticated intersection. These enhancements ought to make the newly reopened Metropolis Corridor Park subsequent door extra accessible.

Moreover, the Metropolis plans to repave the bike lane alongside Dilling Means, which noticed a quick-build bike lane put in in 2021 however continues to be a little bit of a bumpy journey. SDOT is hoping to make use of this as a possibility so as to add road bushes, enhance wayfinding within the space, and doubtlessly add alternatives for artwork. These Third Ave and Yesler Means enhancements are heading towards last design this 12 months and are set to enter place within the first half of 2024.

Additionally subsequent 12 months, the momentary curb extensions added round Yesler Means and Third Avenue will grow to be everlasting, with upgrades deliberate for issues just like the bike crossing. (Metropolis of Seattle)
Piloted curb extensions on third Avenue round Yesler Means put in final 12 months will grow to be everlasting by 2024. (Metropolis of Seattle)

The Urbanist already reported on plans to improve and increase considered one of Third Avenue’s most-used southbound bus stops, between S Washington and S Important Avenue, changing that block of the road to one-way operation, with an expanded sidewalk and totally rebuilt concrete road. The repaving right here can’t occur quickly sufficient, with vital potholes presently fairly conspicuous to riders, and this cease ceaselessly experiences overcrowding.

The southbound bus cease between Washington Avenue and Important Avenue will even get upgraded in 2024, with a wider sidewalk and new pavement. (Metropolis of Seattle)

Hall-wide, SDOT additionally introduced that they’ll be working with Metro to switch the outdated (and largely damaged) real-time info kiosks up and down Third Avenue with up to date shows, “e-ink” screens which have been deployed pretty broadly elsewhere within the system. The division additionally famous that as a part of the hall upgrades, Third Ave between Virginia and Pine Avenue can be repaved in 2024 together with the part of the road between Yesler Means and S Important Avenue, offering smoother journeys for bus riders.

These modifications are taking place towards the backdrop of town council’s full endorsement of the Downtown Seattle Affiliation’s pursuit of a brand new imaginative and prescient for all the transit hall, one that would doubtlessly open the door to the road stepping again from being the first transitway by means of downtown Seattle, although that’s not more likely to occur anytime quickly. SDOT’s newest spherical of investments within the hall are an excellent reminder of the truth that there’s nonetheless lots of issues that may be achieved to make the hall work higher for transit riders.

Ryan Packer lives within the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill and has been writing for the The Urbanist since 2015. They report on multimodal transportation points, #VisionZero, preservation, and native politics. They consider in utilizing Seattle’s historical past to assist attain the colourful, numerous metropolis that all of us want to inhabit. Ryan’s writing has appeared in Capitol Hill Seattle Weblog, Bike Portland, and Seattle Bike Weblog, the place in addition they did a four-month stint as momentary editor.


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