Washington State transportation officials have agreed to create direct transit lines between the booming South Lake Union and the Eastside in Seattle by building a new reversible I-5 express lane between S.R. 520 and Mercer Street for buses only.
The $70 million project, scheduled to open in 2023, was revealed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) this week as an update to its $4.6 billion, two-decade rebuild of the S.R. 520 corridor. In addition, a roughly $400 million project begins next March to construct a bigger Montlake interchange, a landscaped lid over S.R. 520 and new eastbound lanes connecting Montlake to the six-lane floating bridge that opened two years ago.
To make the bus connections to South Lake Union work, WSDOT will construct a reversible, direct-access ramp at north Capitol Hill from S.R. 520 onto I-5—six years sooner than the state previously intended. From there, contractors will add the bus lane and new retaining wall on the west side of the express lanes.
Though several mainline freeway decks sit on columns, the express lanes themselves rest primarily on the ground, where a bus lane can be built. Then, at Mercer Street, a single reversible South Lake Union bus lane would be centered within the hillside thicket of northbound and southbound ramps where Mercer joins I-5 next to Fairview Avenue North. Travel on this new lane should be far quicker than today’s trips, where 520 buses can only use the mainline and must weave into a jammed Stewart Street exit south of Mercer.
Source: The Seattle Times