Sound Transit’s plan to implement bus rapid transit lines on three major highways around Lake Washington near Bellevue includes projects that will add road lanes and stations.
The bus rapid transit (BRT) lines for state Route 522, state Route 518 and Interstate 405 will include two new bus lines that serve 11 cities at 20 bus rapid transit stations while connecting to the expanding regional light rail system in four locations.
Under the project, both Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation announced roadway improvements that include new and extended managed lanes and new stations to connect communities north, south and east of Lake Washington.
“High-capacity BRT buses traveling at speed on managed lanes will make BRT on these corridors more like ‘rail on wheels.’ The speed, frequency and reliability of BRT service will mean major improvements in riders’ commutes,” says Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit CEO, in a statement. “Roadway improvements, including completing business access and transit lanes on SR 522 and expanding express toll lanes on I-405 will be critical to allowing Sound Transit to deliver BRT.”
The funding for the I-405 and SR 522 expansions were included in the voter-approved Sound Transit 3 bond of 2016. The estimated cost for the SR 522 portion is $364 million and the I-405 section estimate rests at $812 million.
As part of the WSDOT long-term master plan for the I-405 corridor, the addition of BRT will join expanded express toll lanes. The I-405 plan connects communities along 37 miles of I-405 and SR 518 from Lynnwood to Burien, including a new transit center in South Renton and 11 BRT stations, three of which will include additional parking. Buses will travel in managed lanes to increase speed and reliability. Connections to Link light rail will be available at Lynnwood, downtown Bellevue and Tukwila. Sound Transit and WSDOT expect travel time from Lynnwood to Bellevue to take 45 minutes and Burien to Bellevue 48 minutes.
The eight-mile SR 522 route will connect to Link light rail at Shoreline South and to BRT at I-405. Overall, the project includes nine stations with additional parking at three and an expanded transit center at UW Bothell. Rider will be able to travel from Lake Forest Park to downtown Seattle in 38 minutes via BRT and light rail.
Sound Transit expects buses running as often as every 10 minutes.
The service will feature specialized buses with multiple doors for fast entry and exit, off-board fare payment to get buses moving more quickly, platforms that allow passengers to step directly onto the bus and new signal systems that will ensure buses get a green light before general traffic when off highways and freeways.
The development phase of the project runs through 2018 as staff review routes and configurations to further refine specifics, station locations and project elements based on public engagement and technical analysis. In early 2019, the Sound Transit Board will authorize conceptual engineering and environmental review for the SR 522 and I-405 project corridors. In 2020, Sound Transit will select the projects and start the engineering and final design. Construction will follow and service is scheduled to start in 2024.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.