City sacrificing Denny Way traffic lane for faster bus route

City sacrificing Denny Way traffic lane for faster bus route

Denny Way is going to lose one general traffic lane to Metro by 2018. (KIRO 7)

Seattle drivers will lose a lane of traffic on Denny Way for the benefit of mass transit.

Beginning in 2017, changes will begin to be made along the bustling road, according to King County Metro.

Initial changes will include longer green lights at Denny and Fifth and Sixth avenues, and left-turn restrictions at Eighth, Terry, and Boren. But that’s just the beginning.

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The city will convert the center westbound lane of Denny Way between Stewart Street and Fairview Avenue into an eastbound bus-only lane. Metro says this will cut the travel time for Route 8 buses by about one minute, “with minimal impact on traffic, according to our traffic studies.” Route 8 carries about 10,000 riders a day.

The lane change will allow buses to avoid backups created by drivers trying to get onto I-5 from Yale Avenue. The Seattle Times points out that while this could help, backups from I-5 can extend past Fairview.

A second issue is drivers attempting to cross the bus lane to get into the I-5 queue. Metro engineer Owen Kehoe told the Times that to help prevent that, the bus lanes will be marked and a signal at Fairview will provide buses a head start to get into the bus lane ahead of traffic.

Additionally, on-street parking will be restricted on sections of Denny Way, Olive Way, East John Street, and East Thomas Street.

Two expanded bus stops on Olive and East John are in the works as well.

King County Metro received grants from the FTA to fund the changes. This will cover the costs for the Seattle Department of Transportation to design and implement the changes, as well as new shelters and better lighting.

All the work is expected to be complete by 2018.

The plan to improve bus service along Denny comes at a time when transit advocates are pushing for more and more options for riders.

Around the time voters approved the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 tax package to expand light rail, the agency detailed plans to expand bus service throughout the region. That includes pumping money into current infrastructure to allow for shoulder driving to improve bus drive times.

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