SEATTLE — King County Metro is making long-term temporary changes to 12 southbound bus routes serving West Seattle and Burien in an effort to reduce delays from the ongoing viaduct demolition and make travel times more consistent.
It’s part of the much-discussed “Seattle Squeeze.” When the viaduct closed, buses that used it moved onto 1st Ave. – and into congestion caused by stadium events and commuter traffic.
Twelve southbound routes will be impacted: 21x, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 123, 125 and RapidRide C Line.
The routes will instead move onto 2nd Ave. and 4th Ave. S. The southbound stop at 1st and S. King will be closed, and served by a stop on 2nd between S. Washington and S. Main St. The change begins Sept. 9.
“When peak commuter traffic and stadium events combine to add tremendous amounts of traffic volumes, it doesn’t take a lot in Seattle for traffic to slow down for everybody,” said Bill Bryant, of King County Metro.
Buses using 2nd Ave. to reach 4th Ave. S. will also have a second left turn lane from Columbia St. to 2nd.
"West Seattle bus commuters have been contacting me about this crunch and I've worked since April to find alternatives,” Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Councilmember said. “I appreciate Metro, SDOT, the County Executive and the Mayor working to find a cost-effective solution for our bus system, and mitigates any potential obstructions to our Fire Department and emergency responders."
“I’ve sat on the bus for 20 minutes sometimes trying to get out of this light,” said Lorena Tello, who catches the bus from S. King St. to West Seattle.
Metro plans to keep the changes through early 2020, when Alaskan Way is slated to open. Northbound routes will stay on 1st Ave. until Alaskan Way opens.
Bryant said Metro made the changes after noticing delays over the summer – especially on southbound routes on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
“The Seattle Squeeze is going to continue to be difficult for all of us for quite a while,” Bryant said.
Tello was glad to hear of the change.
“It’s really nice to not have to drive downtown or park downtown,” she said.
Metro also warned of another temporary change, from Sept. 12 to 21 – S. Dearborn St.'s closure for further viaduct demolition.
Northbound routes using SR99 will be on temporary reroute between September 12-21 and will take 4th Ave. S. with stops at Prefontaine Place S. and James St., Metro said.