Find Posts By Topic

RapidRide J Line design complete, construction begins next year | LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK

The existing Metro route 70 bus travels south into the Eastlake neighborhood. Photo: SDOT.

Blog stats: 1,200 words | 6-minute read

We have completed the final design of the RapidRide J Line! In the coming months, we’ll advance the process of selecting a contractor and begin preparations for construction, which is expected to begin in summer 2024.

This project upgrades King County Metro’s Route 70 with an improved RapidRide level of service that will enhance connections to Downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, Eastlake, and the University District neighborhoods.

Here are a few top highlights at-a-glance:

  • We’re taking your commute to the next level! Once complete, expect a smoother bus ride and more walkable neighborhood with upgraded sidewalks, signals, and curb ramps from Downtown to the U District.
  • Enjoy more reliable travel times with new transit lanes and bus signal priority.
  • New stations will enhance your wait, featuring shelters, lights, real-time updates, and all-door boarding.
  • We’re also boosting connections to Link light rail, other bus lines, and Seattle Streetcar.
  • And guess what? We’re going green, reducing carbon footprints by providing more travel options. For people who bike, we’re installing protected bike lanes for more comfortable and safe travel.
  • We’re even paving Eastlake Ave E with 12 inches of concrete for a 50-year-long street life!
  • Plus, we’re teaming up with Seattle Public Utilities to give Eastlake Ave E a watermain makeover.
  • Get ready for the ride of your life!

We want to thank community members for their robust, thoughtful input throughout the planning process where we heard various suggestions and concerns, such as:

  • The need to preserve the planted medians on Eastlake Ave E
  • The need to ensure load zones are maintained for business access
  • The loss of on-street parking and potential impacts to businesses
  • The potential loss of tree canopy throughout the project area
  • The need to extend bike lane protection heading northbound towards the University Bridge

In response to these suggestions, we have:

  • Preserved and increased the number of planted medians on Eastlake Ave E, adding more trees to these wherever possible
  • Identified loading zones for businesses, both on Eastlake Ave E nearest to businesses and on adjacent streets
  • Worked with the community through various parking mitigation measures, including a Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) study
  • Updated plans to plant 190 trees to mitigate the loss of trees removed to widen sidewalks. There will be an overall gain of 98 trees upon project completion.
  • Added more bike lane protection south of the University Bridge

The RapidRide J Line project will bring many improvements to the neighborhoods served by the updated bus route. By the numbers, these improvements include:

  • 15,130 feet of repaired sidewalks (as long as 42 football fields placed together!)
  • 2 miles of repaved street (equivalent to 248 school buses lined up!)
  • 3.7 lane-miles of protected bike facilities
  • 2 miles of bus priority lanes
  • 177 improved crosswalks
  • 33 intersections with traffic signal improvements, including 253 new traffic signal devices
  • 190 newly planted trees
  • 8,900 feet of watermain replacement, in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities
A person bikes down the street, with parked cars and buildings in the background.
A cyclist travels south on Eastlake Ave E. Photo: SDOT

Our administration is committed to enhancing access to fast and dependable transportation so people can easily reach their destinations. The RapidRide J Line project will connect communities from Pioneer Square to the University District, creating a swift, dependable route Downtown. These needed improvements are thanks to support from the Levy to Move Seattle and strong partnerships between King County Metro, Seattle Public Utilities, local businesses, and community-based organizations.– Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell

“The RapidRide J Line project will dramatically improve bus and bike connections between the University District and Greater Downtown. We’re thrilled to finalize a design that creates a more walkable, people-oriented street, and we look forward to starting construction next year.” – Greg Spotts, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

The RapidRide J Line project improvements closely align with our Vision Zero goal to end traffic-related deaths and serious injuries on Seattle’s streets. Our spring 2023 Vision Zero Top-to-Bottom review identified many of these treatments as successful ways to make travel safer.

Icon graphic with safety information, a yellow heart icon, SDOT logo, and additional text.
Safety is one of our core values and goals, and an important priority for this and other projects. Graphic: SDOT

Check out the videos below highlighting some of the changes you will see to the street along the route:

We expect construction to begin in summer 2024. We plan to complete the project and replace the existing Route 70 with the improved RapidRide J Line in 2027.

Aerial photo of large buildings, trees, boats, and street.
View of Fairview Ave N, looking east. The Fairview Ave N Bridge was replaced in 2021, providing safer and more reliable connections from the University District and Eastlake to South Lake Union and downtown Seattle. Photo: SDOT.

Project overview

We’re partnering with King County Metro to enhance transit connections and upgrade existing bus routes to Metro RapidRide service. The project will replace the existing Route 70 with an improved RapidRide level of service, improving transit connections to Downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, Eastlake, and the University District neighborhoods. In addition to improving bus reliability with all-day transit service, the project will install new bus stations, repave streets, add new protected bike lanes, and improve pedestrian accessibility.

The RapidRide J Line project also addresses current and future mobility needs for travelers, resolves transit capacity constraints along the route, and provides equitable transportation access to major institutions, low-income housing, medical facilities, employers, and neighborhoods.

Map showing the route of the future project area. Shows several areas of Seattle, including University District, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown, Downtown.
Map showing the project area from Downtown to the University District.

Finalizing design for the future RapidRide J Line marks a major milestone in the critical partnership between Seattle and Metro to upgrade the rider experience and improve transit reliability for the communities we serve. More red bus-priority lanes, and safer pathways for riders to access new bus stations will draw more people to choose RapidRide between the U-District, Eastlake, South Lake Union and Belltown. This is just the latest in a series of transformative projects we’re delivering together to improve mobility in our growing communities.” – King County Metro General Manager Michelle Allison

“Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is thrilled to see construction scheduled for the Rapid Ride J project. This critical project will connect Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhoods with better walking, biking, rolling, and transit mobility and accessibility infrastructure. Additionally the design will improve safety on an identified “high crash corridor” — helping make progress towards Seattle’s Vision Zero goal.” – Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Executive Director Gordon Padelford

“Efficient, reliable public transportation corridors, like RapidRide J Line, that are well connected to a broader, functionally integrated public transportation system, are essential to maintaining, enhancing, and prolonging the livability, workability and vitality of the UW-Eastlake-Southlake Community and metropolitan Seattle. Our 4th generation company, Lake Union Drydock Company, has been part of the dynamic live-work Eastlake community for 104 years. We appreciate the dedication and community involvement processes SDOT and King County Metro bring to shaping our connected transportation systems to respond to changing, sometimes competing, community needs, helping us all make Seattle the place where we want to live and work.” – Hobie Stebbins, President, Lake Union Drydock Company

“As the effects of climate change bear down all around us, and population increases, great cities around the world (see Paris, France) are trading in their on-street parking for bicycle lanes and improved public transit. Eastlake will be a leader for Seattle in being one of the city’s first neighborhoods to make such a major and necessary transition that will benefit all.” – Eastlake Community Member

We’d also like to thank our federal partners for their funding support of this project, including the Biden Administration, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

What’s next

We are busy planning for construction with our community partners and business owners in and around the project area. As we gather information, we will share that with you well in advance of construction, which we anticipate starting in summer 2024.

If you would like to stay up to date about the project, you can subscribe to receive project email updates. Thank you for your interest.