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Feds recommend $60 million for RapidRide J project, including Eastlake Ave remake

Excerpt from the design concept maps showing new floating bus stop and protected bike lanes.
Design concept for Eastlake Ave E (PDF).
Full corridor map.
From SDOT.

The Federal Transit Administration has recommended a $60.1 million grant to fund the RapidRide J project from the U District to South Lake Union via Eastlake.

“Coupled with funding from the Levy to Move Seattle that voters approved in 2015, the recommended $60 million grant would fully fund the RapidRide J Line project,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell in a joint press release with King County Metro. “Access to transit and safe streets are the things that make a difference in people’s life. This type of infrastructure makes our city welcoming to people of all ages and abilities and connects them to work, schools, recreation, and culture – creating One Seattle.”

The RapidRide J project is a major remake of the corridor, including long-awaited protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave E and Fairview Ave N. We previously talked through the design details in great detail. Hopefully the $60 million is enough to fix the lacking bike protection at the south end of the University Bridge, one of the few lacking elements in a very exciting design that will make biking much more comfortable in this vital corridor.

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More details from USDOT:

In Washington, the Seattle RapidRide J Line Bus Rapid Transit project is recommended for CIG funding. King County Metro (Metro) proposes a 5.2-mile BRT line connecting the University District neighborhood to downtown Seattle as part of Seattle’s growing RapidRide BRT system. The project features real-time arrival information, off-board fare collection, 2.3 miles of exclusive BRT lanes, and transit signal priority. The corridor includes major destinations including the University of Washington, South Lake Union, Seattle’s central business district, and the International District, with intermodal connections to light rail, monorail, commuter rail, Washington State Ferries, and the Seattle Streetcar. (First-time funding recommendation for $60.1 million)

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14 responses to “Feds recommend $60 million for RapidRide J project, including Eastlake Ave remake”

  1. Alex

    This should have been an extension of the SLU streetcar with protected bike lanes also. The extension of the SLU streetcar would have a 2 million dollar annual operational savings due to reduction in service overlap between the 70 bus and the SLU streetcar (it would have provided a much better experience with center running lanes too).


    1. I agree. Is it too late for that to happen ?

  2. Great news. I hope this goes through reasonably smoothly with the general public.

    One concern I’ll bring up: the bus stop islands. SDOT needs to decide who the users of the bike lanes are. I think e-bikes are allowed to go 20mph in most places. Are the bike lanes supposed to accommodate them ? What abut non e-bike riders going downhill ? It’s easy to reach or exceed 20 mph.

    On Dexter, the downhill bike lane appears to be similar to the one planned for Eastlake. I can normally ride safely at 20 (or perhaps even 25) mph because the approach and return angles are gentle and the sight lines are good. If SDOT does Eastlake with the same design, it will work well for a wide variety of cyclists.

    On the other hand, a few years ago, SDOT built a similar bike lane going downhill. However, this one has sharper approach and return angles and the sightlines are obscured. Also, they are raised through the island area. This design makes it impossible to ride through at 20mph. You just can’t tell if you will hit an obscured pedestrian, how abrupt the raised pavement transition is, or whether a car is parked in the lane on the far side. I never use them. If SDOT build this kind of bike lane on Eastlake, who do they expect will use it ?

    I realize SDOT wants cyclists to be careful of peds crossing to and from the bus stops. But peds must also be wary of crossing any residential street, which have cars going or exceeding the 20mph speed limit. Somehow, peds are careful (as, hopefully, drivers) on those streets. Why is it, then, that we can’t expect peds and cyclists to be equally careful at bus island crossings ?

    I think everyone already knows my opinions of SDOT…

    1. I meant to say: “a few years ago, SDOT built a similar bike lane on Greenwood going downhill.”

      1. Andy Sapuntzakis

        The design of the Greenwood downhill “PBL” is inconsistent and mostly poor. As usual, those comfortable with traffic avoid most of it, and those who aren’t ride elsewhere or not at all.

        The pavement is awful, probably due to brick underlayer and heavy vehicles.

        The bike lane weaves behind or over bus islands, often blocked by parked cars and full of debris.

        The design at 100th is crazy – the downhill PBL has a 45deg turn onto an island! The whole thing should be a raised speed table – making it clear who has priority – rather than a trench with “random” curbs & cuts.

    2. Conrad

      I also frequently don’t use downhill PBL. It’s exhausting dealing with drivers that think that bikes are not allowed to use the general lane. Pointing out the vehicle parked in the PBL, oblivious pedestrian, or profusion of glass/needles/feces that I don’t feel like riding over. And also that I can easily do the speed limit on the downhill.

      1. M.B.

        Eh, I never rode my bike on that second of greenwood Ave if I could help it before the change and would instead ride on the interurban (Fremont Street). It might not be perfect, and some parking enforcement would be welcomed, but it is better than the 4 lane road that was here before hand.

  3. JB

    Very good. How long before we can expect a decent bike route between Eastlake and Capitol Hill?

    1. NoSpin

      With I-5 a hard barrier between Eastlake and Capitol Hill, there are few options. The best is to eliminate parking on 10th Avenue in favor of PBLs – which would tie in nicely when the 520 bike path gets extended up the new Portage Bay Bridge and ties in to a new Roanoke Lid, which can serve as a junction between 520/Montlake/Eastlake/Capitol Hill.

      The only other option is Boylston-Lakeview to Melrose/Belmont… but Boylston isn’t wide enough to accommodate PBLs even if you removed curbside parking.

    2. Alex

      Lakeview to Melrose is a pretty straight shot from Eastlake to Captiol Hill. It definitely needs some protection though.

      1. Kristin

        I used to take this when I lived in Eastlake — it is a straight shot, but I often felt unsafe biking late at night and it deposits you into cap hill at a place where there’s a multi-block stretch of no PBL heading toward downtown.

        Not to mention Lakeview is DANGEROUS. I was edged off the road twice by cars not abiding by the “sharrow”.

  4. ronp

    this is awesome news (although lately I am biking to Husky stadium light rail for trips to downtown), returning home biking via 4th ave pbl to westlake amazon corporate mega campus to south lake union, then around eastlake along the water. We really need to upgrade the http://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/cheshiahud-lake-union-loop with actual curbs, sidewalks and bike lanes along the houseboat car parking sprawl.

    1. Braeden

      The Cheshiahud Loop is an unfinished project that really needs help through Eastlake. Thank you for bringing this up. The “Mallard Cove Missing Link” is a fix that the City is fully within its rights and power to claim the ROW back from the private marina that blocks the complete loop. This piece from Eastlake News Blog a couple of years ago lays out the case well: https://eastlakenews.org/parks-and-green-spaces/the-broke-link-between-e-edgar-and-e-hamlin-street-ends/. With the RapidRide J project and Parks & Rec tackling the nearby Terry Pettus Park improvements over the next couple of years, I think completing the Cheshiahud Loop is a great candidate for a complementary project that could be included in the next round of levies.

  5. eddiew

    The SDOT bus-bike humps at bus stops are in place on NE 65th Street. Some signage directed at cyclists says “slow”; some says “yield”; the latter seems better, considering that the bus riders have little chance to see the cyclists. Other commenters have noted the speed differential between cyclists (e.g., electric assist, road bikes, heavy bikes, eight to eighty cyclists, up and down hill). At least the Eastlake PBL will be one-way and not two-way as on Broadway, 2nd Avenue, and 4th Avenue. The SDOT designs will be slower and safer; that will not please all users. On Eastlake Avenue East, almost all parallel parking is being eliminated; that will be controversial. The SDOT alignment in the U District will increase overall transit travel times when the longer walks are considered relative to using the Route 70 pathway on NE Campus Parkway and 15th Avenue NE.

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