The City of Seattle has released its latest designs and is collecting public feedback on what is being billed as a powerful overhaul of E Madison that will change east-west travel in Central Seattle from downtown, through First Hill, Capitol Hill, the Central District, and into Madison Valley. Judging by a few of the designs for blocks along the route, Seattle City Hall will need your help to get it right.
This month, public feedback will shape the final designs for the Seattle Department of Transportation’s updated Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project — now known as RapidRide G. You can provide feedback in person beginning Thursday on First Hill or again next week on Capitol Hill. You can also weigh in online:
Thursday, March 9
11 AM – 1 PM
Town Hall, Downstairs
1119 8th Ave
Wednesday, March 15
5:30 – 7:30 PM
First African Methodist Episcopal Church
1522 14th Ave
Give feedback online!
If you can, make time for an in-person visit and add your thoughts online. Last year, SDOT collected public comments on the proposed project that would create a BRT line from 1st Ave downtown to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The project team has furthered the project’s design since then, reshaping the $120 million plan.
View the full block by block designs here (PDF — 15.5 MB)
Some of the changes that came from public input include having the eastbound buses begin their route back to Madison Valley on Spring instead of Marion. The route was originally also only going to reach to 23rd Ave but has been extended to MLK. And a westbound stop on 24th Ave was moved to 23rd Ave.
The BRT project will be known as the RapidRide G Line when it begins serving riders along its 11-stop route in late 2019. In addition to more reliable bus service, transportation planners say the line will bring needed improvements to sidewalks and crossings along the route.
One of those areas includes improving the intersection of 12th Ave, Madison, and Union, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.
“We had more than 350 comments from the public on that,” said SDOT project manager Jeff Lundstrom at a presentation to the Madison Valley Community Council on Wednesday.
SDOT’s proposed changes to the intersection include:
New curb bulbs shorten the crossing distance for those biking and walking and provide more room for everyone to wait for the signal
Bus stops on Union St on both sides of 12th Ave provide better connections between Madison Street BRT and the Route 2.
To improve traffic flow for all modes, westbound vehicles will no longer turn right onto 12th Ave from Madison St. Instead, Pike St or 13th Ave offer alternatives.
The southbound bike lane on 12th Ave will now extend to and through Madison St. A protected bike lane will run on Union St from 11th to 14th avenues. See Madison by bike for other improvements for those biking.
Overall, SDOT is focusing on capacity, efficiency, and connectivity for the project in the “historically underserved” area when it comes to public transit, Lundstrom said.
The 60-foot articulated buses running every six minutes during peak times aim to better handle the capacity. Card readers at the station allowing riders to enter any of the five doors, 13-inch platforms making it easier for those with strollers or wheelchairs to get on the bus, and designated areas of the stations for cyclists and those in wheelchairs aim to make the loading and unloading process more efficient for riders. Cyclists can also anticipate loading their bikes inside the bus.
“It’s going to be very quick,” Lundstrom said.
The connectivity for the neighborhood should be improved as the future Madison BRT will travel in a dedicated center lane with island stops from 9th Ave to 14th Ave while the rest of the route will run curbside with right-turning traffic or in mixed traffic.
Under the “locally preferred alternative” design adopted by City Council last year, transit travel time from 23rd to 1st Ave is expected to improve by 40% from 16 minutes to 10 minutes while single occupancy vehicle travel time will increase by 4 minutes.
The electric trolley buses, run by Metro, will be connected via sensors to traffic signals, giving them the priority.
Last fall and winter, the project’s outreach team met with businesses along and adjacent to the route to understand their needs as construction is planned. The Office of Economic Development is will also be working with small businesses to provide assistance during construction.
Lundstrom said the construction is broken into phases based on feedback from businesses and the community.
“Not everybody got exactly what they asked for, but we’re pretty close,” Lundstrom said.
Seattle’s latest transit levy includes $15 million for the project, 12.5% of the estimated $120 million total. SDOT also has $30 million from the Sound Transit 3 package and another $9 million in federal and city grants lined up, plus another $4 million coming from the state. “The project now has $58M funded and $62M in submitted grants working through the FTA process,” an SDOT representative tells CHS.
The city expects to complete the environmental review of the project this spring with a final design coming by the end of the year. Construction plans will be finalized this summer and work is expected to begin in early 2018 with service starting in late 2019.
You can learn more and provide feedback at madisonstreetbrt.participate.online.