Just in time for everybody to be just a little irrationally excited about a fixed-rail transit option opening in the area, the City Council’s transportation committee Friday pushed forward the process to create a “bus rapid transit” corridor on Madison from downtown to the Central District.
Friday, the committee agreed to pass a resolution adopting the Seattle Department of Transportation’s “locally preferred alternative” design for the route and clearing the way for the project to seek the necessary exogenous funding. If all goes to plan, the BRT plan with a few segments of honest to goodness dedicated bus lanes will be open by 2019.
CHS wrote here about the final adjustments to the design proposal. Instead of a BRT route running in a dedicated lane through the extent of the route, the plan has buses running in mixed-traffic east of 18th Ave with “signal priority” helping speed the trip to the MLK terminus. A dedicated center lane with island stops will run from 9th Ave to 13th Ave under the proposal. The rest of the route will run curbside with right-turning traffic until 18th Ave.
In the time it took the First Hill Streetcar to open, bus rapid transit has emerged as a popular alternative for cities looking for a cheaper, more flexible form of public transit. The Madison project has an estimated price tag around $120 million — not far from the First Hill Streetcar’s $138 million cost. Whether the lighter investments can truly achieve the “rapid” part of the rapid transit equation will remain to be seen.
The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal February 1st.