For 26,000 daily bus riders on 12 routes, the Seattle Squeeze is about to get a little easier starting Feb 22 when Columbia Street extension to the waterfront opens.
For years, bus riders from Burien, White Center, and West Seattle traveled swiftly to and from downtown Seattle. However, the pathway relied on the seismically vulnerable and obsolete SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Since the viaduct closed, 12 bus routes have traveled on First and Fourth avenues and other surface streets while we rebuilt Columbia Street to connect to the waterfront.
We’re putting the finishing touches on Columbia Street.
Historically, Columbia Street was a one-way westbound road through downtown onto the viaduct. Since viaduct demolition was completed, we have been working to extend the road for westbound cars and buses to Alaskan Way and build an eastbound bus-lane from Alaskan Way to Third Avenue. This means buses coming from Alaskan Way will turn east on Columbia Street, and connect to Third Avenue.
If weather permits, we will begin work to create a new bus lane on Columbia Street from First to Third avenues on Monday, February 10. We will need to close some westbound lanes to complete this work, and once we are done the new bus-lane will remain closed to all traffic until bus routes change on February 22. Once the lane opens, there will be two westbound car-lanes, one westbound bus-lane, and one eastbound bus-lane in this section of Columbia St. Learn more about block-by-block changes coming to Columbia Street in our previous blog.
“During the Seattle Squeeze, residents from all over Seattle have chosen transit to help alleviate congestion. One of the most impacted neighborhoods is West Seattle, so this opening allows the start of faster and more reliable transit commutes,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Shifting buses to Alaskan Way and Columbia Street is an exciting first step toward the new waterfront optimized for transit.”
The project was funded in part by King County Metro, with $3.5 million in improvements on Columbia Street between First and Third avenues. Columbia Street between Alaskan Way and First Avenue was rebuilt as part of the City’s Waterfront Seattle Program and included new water and sewer lines, electrical infrastructure, drainage system, and a new street and sidewalks.
12 bus routes will see a big improvement on Feb 22, 2020
West Seattle, Burien, and neighboring area buses including the 21x, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, and the RapidRide C Line will use this new pathway.
New bus stops will be on Columbia Street just east of Alaskan Way. It may take a few weeks for traffic flow to adjust to these new routes.
Next steps for the new waterfront:
The Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects is continuing to construct a new Alaskan Way from S King Street to Bell Street. Our next milestone is opening dedicated, transit-only lanes on Alaskan Way between S King and Columbia streets by late 2021.
These lanes will serve connections from SW King County to Third Avenue. Alaskan Way will remain open during this construction, with two lanes open in each direction during the day. Closures, if necessary, will occur during nights and weekends, avoiding major events.
This work will be followed by the rest of Alaskan Way, the park promenade, new east-west street improvements and much more. When completed in 2024, the new waterfront will reconnect the city to Elliott Bay for all modes of travel. Learn more at waterfrontseattle.org.