“We’re at 90% design, so they’re still not completely a hundred percent finalized yet. We’re coming out tonight and showing people the 90% design and what’s changed from 60%,” said Joshua Shippy, the Madison BRT project manager.
Many open house attendees had been following the Madison BRT’s designs since the project’s early stages.
“I always get concerned that transit projects will be watered down when they have to deal with so many different competing interests,” said Steve Goodreau, an open house attendee. “That was a big concern of mine, especially during the first few phases, but I’m happy to see that the dedicated lane remains throughout pretty much all of First Hill, and so has all the signal priority.”
Goodreau’s concern were about how some stations will have designated areas for cyclists and those in wheelchairs when loading and unloading the bus, hoping to make the boarding process more efficient.
Other attendees echoed earlier concerns about dedicated bus lane’s potential to increase traffic and confusion at intersections on First Hill.
“We’re concerned about vehicle access to Virginia Mason, although it should be their concern with their ambulances,” said Jonathan Fredman, who attended the open house on behalf of Feet First, a local pedestrian advocacy nonprofit. “It connects to our concern in general about pedestrian safety, and being able to cross Madison safely, and getting to stops safely.”
SDOT also addressed the changes to intersections on First Hill resulting from the dedicated bus lane, recognizing the changes at intersections were a primary concern.
“We had a traffic analysis done before this,” Shippy said. “People who are not using the bus definitely want to know what’s happening with their service too, so we’re explaining what’s happening with the different signalized intersection design and how we’re working to make their view better.”
Outside of traffic flow, open house attendees were also worried about pedestrian safety at bus stops.
“At a couple of these intersections, 8th and Madison and at one spot on Spring St they’re not going to install twin put twin ADA ramps on a corner, and one spot is a block away from a senior center,” Fredman said. “People are going to have to step directly out into traffic off the curb.”
With the project’s design phase is nearly finished, other attendees were concerned about potential traffic delays during the project’s construction.
My main concern is the construction. My wife and I lived through a couple of years of construction on 23rd between Madison and Rainier and that was no fun,” said Randy Robinson, an open house attendee. “I’m worried about that since Madison is a major corridor, so for it to be potentially blocked up for a couple years is inconvenient.”
Construction on the Madison BRT route is planned to begin in mid to late 2020. Although open house attendees were concerned about potential problems associated with construction, they looked forward to using the Madison BRT when it starts service in late 2022.
“My husband was in hospital at Swedish in February when it was snowing, and I had a pretty tough time getting to Swedish from my house near 30th and Howell,” said open house attendee Jane Hadley. “This would provide another way to get down to Broadway, which is a plus.”
A few other attendees noted the future RapidRide G would be an important East-West transit option Capitol Hill and the Central District lacked, providing convenient access to downtown. A few people also noted the BRT the hill more accessible for mobility impaired individuals.
“I don’t like walking on Madison. The other side of the hill is an extremely hard climb, especially if you’re mobility impaired. I’m really excited for rapid transit to help with that,” said Alex Jordan, an open house attendee.
CHS reported here on the latest changes to the plans for the $120 million, 2.3 mile, 10-station route.
- Shorter crosswalks at key intersections so people walking have time to get to the other side of the street
- New diesel-hybrid bus fleet which eliminates the need to extend the overhead trolley wire from 19th Ave to Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr Way. This also removes the small power supply converter (TPSS) from the design at Madison St and E John St.
- New curbside bus stop on 1st Ave between Madison St and Spring St
- Updated bus layover station at E Arthur Pl and MLK Jr Way with fewer poles and overhead wires
- New pedestrian signal at 10th Ave to help people cross Madison St to get to Seattle University and other destinations
- New underground stormwater detention tank on 10th Ave between Madison St and E Union St
60-foot articulated buses will run every six minutes during peak times. 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.
Half of the project’s budget is expected to come from the Federal Transit Authority. In its latest update to its nationwide Current Capital Investment Grant Projects, the FTA still lists the Madison BRT project in the first phase of the Small Starts Project Development grant process. In November, the FTA gave the project a “high” value rating.
With the project wrapping up its design phase, SDOT is also hosting an online open house at RapidRideG.participate.online.
Planners will also be available for questions and comments Sunday, July 28th, from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Capitol Hill Farmer’s Market.
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