Sound Transit’s first ST 3 project about to start
We all likely think light rail and distant expansions immediately when thinking about ST 3, the voter-approved $54-billion transit package for King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties. But it includes other transit projects, many which will be completed a lot sooner than you might think.
The first of these projects begins next week. It will complete the bus lanes that run along Highway 522 between Bothell and Kenmore. Right now, those lanes end, which forces buses to merge in and out of traffic to make their stops and pick up or drop off passengers. Completing the lanes could improve transit times between Bothell and Seattle by 15 minutes.
“Completing this entire BAT (business access and transit) lane system along here is really going to give them (buses) a much clearer path to run,” Sound Transit’s Paul Cornish said. “You get the speed. You get the reliability.”
Cornish also said that delivering these smaller but impactful ST-3 projects quickly is key to building out a more reliable transit system.
“It’s a big win for Sound Transit,” he said. “It’s a big win for local bus service, and it’s a great example of us and the City of Bothell and other agencies working together to make these early ones happen.”
But before there can be gain, there will be pain — eighteen months of it. Jason Torrie of Bothell’s Public Works Department said you should expect lane closures, and plenty of orange cones and delays, but the city is working to keep the pain to a minimum. Most of the closures should be during off-peak hours.
“In the morning and evening commutes, we’re not allowing any lane restrictions,” he said.
And it’s not just buses getting all the love on this project.
“We’re going to be adding sidewalks on the westbound side of the road, where there currently aren’t any,” Torrie said. “It’s going to allow the whole neighborhood to the north side of the highway to be able to access the multi-modal options that are available.”
And yes, according to Torrie, even drivers are going to get something out of this.
“You’re going to have wider lanes,” he said. “You’re going to have better illumination and better signage. I think it’s a win-win for everybody involved.
This $30-million project is the largest road project in Bothell’s history. You should expect heavy police enforcement of the bus lanes and the speed limit during construction to make sure there is a safe work zone.