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Bus Rapid Transit: Weigh in on Madison’s new station and road designs

BRT-Update-12-18-15The framework may already be set for a new 11-stop “bus rapid transit” line along Madison, but you can still have a say on the interior design.

Stretching from 1st Ave downtown to MLK Way in Madison Valley, 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 either run curbside with right-turning traffic or in mixed traffic. Within that outline there are still some decisions to be made.

City planners are holding three community meetings around Capitol Hill in August to show off the latest BRT designs and to take public feedback on the project. Seattle Department of Transportation officials are specifically looking for feedback on updated station and roadway designs, which will be unveiled at the first meeting:

  • Wednesday, August 3rd, 5 – 7 PM
    Seattle University, Campion Ballroom, 914 E Jefferson St
  • Thursday, August 4th, 11 AM – 1 PM
    Town Hall Seattle, Downstairs, 1119 8th Ave
  • Tuesday, August 9th, 5 – 7 PM
    Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA, 1700 23rd Ave
  • You can also submit comments online by emailing

“In 2015 we sought feedback on which blocks the stations should be at, and now we’re narrowing it down to exact location within the identified blocks and how riders will access the stations,” said SDOT spokesperson Emily Reardon.

The center running BRT lane along E Madison. (Image: SDOT)

The center running BRT lane along E Madison. (Image: SDOT)

Figuring out how to run a parallel-ish bike route along Madison is another key issue for the project and one that planners are still drawing up. Early designs call for a protected bike lane along E Union and a greenway along 27th Ave or 24th Ave.

Under the “locally preferred alternative” design adopted by City Council in February, transit travel time from 23rd to 1st Ave is expected to improve by 40% from 16 minutes to 10 minutes while car travel time will increase by 4 minutes. Design is currently about one third complete, with construction expected to start in early 2018 and service to start in late 2019.

Screen-Shot-2016-01-25-at-9.56.45-AMThe Madison BRT was one of the specific Capitol Hill projects included in last year’s $930 million Proposition 1 levy. The levy includes $15 million for the project, 12.5% of the estimated $120 million total. Additional funding is included in the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure up for a vote in November.

Madison was identified as a priority for high capacity transit investment back in 2012. Madison is unique in that it’s the city’s only sound-to-lake street and the corridor has one of the highest concentrations of car-free households. Supporters of the BRT line are hoping fast moving transit along Madison will help ease the housing crunch on Capitol Hill by opening up eastern neighborhoods to those looking to quickly access downtown.

BRT lines are intended to resemble light rail lines, with design features like separated lanes, well-established stations, easily identifiable routes, and accessible boarding.

The “rapid” part of the Madison BRT came under criticism when planners unveiled their preferred design that had busses running in mixed traffic for a large section of the route. Planners did choose the MLK terminus over one at 23rd Ave after public support for the longer route.

Some residents that live near the terminus have been critical of the layoff locations around Authur Pl, and joined others in past public meeting in support of extending the line out to Lake Washington. Officials say the line could be extended in the future.

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11 thoughts on “Bus Rapid Transit: Weigh in on Madison’s new station and road designs

    • When they turn the 7 and 48 into “BRT” (scheduled for 2020), the 7 may go up Boren instead of using Jackson St. and 3rd Ave. We’ll need to push SDOT to do that to serve Boren better, use a faster route, and spread service away from just downtown.

    • Unify like Madison Park? Madison Park lost the BRT fight and the BRT will not go there. It will turn around in the valley.

    • I went to a design review meeting there recently and parked in the lot by the chapel. You just ask the kid in the guard box for a visitor pass for a community meeting. Free, and right there on campus.

  1. What’s up with the left turns from Madison onto 12th? (both directions) No turn lanes and no left turn signals. Doesn’t work as-is, I can’t imagine adding a center bus lane will help things. How are they going to modify those turns?

    • I was thinking about that too- is it possible to go down Pike, then turn left on 12th? Say they add a turn signal there- would that be a good alternative?

      One could also keep going and turn left on Broadway, though I realize 12th is a major thoroughfare.

  2. It’s a pipe dream to think that establishing this line will ease the housing crunch on Capitol Hill by “opening up eastern neighborhoods.” Most of those areas are quite affluent and unaffordable for most people, and there are very few apartment buildings.