Development kicks off for bus rapid transit on I-405, SR-522

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Sound Transit, WSDOT begin intensive planning to establish fast, frequent and reliable BRT spanning the north, south and east sides of Lake Washington

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff and Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar today announced the start of planning for bus rapid transit (BRT) lines on SR 522 and NE 145th Street, and I-405 and SR-518. The two lines will serve 11 cities at 20 BRT stations, and will connect to the regional light rail system in four locations.

Under the expansive project, the agencies and other local partners will collaborate on roadway improvements including new and extended managed lanes and new stations that will enable fast, frequent and reliable BRT connections for 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,” said Rogoff. “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.”

“WSDOT and Sound Transit have a long history of working together with our local partners to keep the region moving with multimodal transportation solutions,” said Millar. “BRT provides another fast, frequent and reliable travel option for our growing region and is an essential component of the long-term master plan for the I-405 corridor.”

On I-405, BRT will realize longstanding regional plans for the corridor that include expanded express toll lanes, while on SR-522 the project will fill in gaps with existing business access and transit (BAT) lanes that offer buses travel time advantages. 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, new signal systems that will ensure buses get a green light before general traffic.
 
Voters approved funding for the I-405 BRT and SR 522 BRT projects in 2016 as part of the Sound Transit 3 Plan.

The first phase of project development will run through 2018. Staff will review the representative routes and configurations in the ST3 Plan, and further refine the specific route, station locations and other project elements based on additional public engagement and technical analysis. In early 2019, the Sound Transit Board will be asked to authorize conceptual engineering and environmental review for proposed improvements in both the SR 522 and I-405 project corridors. In 2020, the board will select the projects to be built after completion of environmental review. Preliminary engineering, final design and construction will follow, and service is scheduled to start in 2024.

Public involvement opportunities

Sound Transit and WSDOT will host public involvement opportunities in 2018 to discuss project elements including roadway improvements, BRT stations, bus operations and maintenance facility, parking facilities, transit centers, and branding.

A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 26, in Kirkland to provide information about the NE 85th Street interchange project, which will include a future BRT station. Learn more about this meeting at https://www.soundtransit.org/About-Sound-Transit/Calendar/ne-85th-st-interchange-improvements-meeting-042618.

WSDOT is also moving forward with environmental review for proposed I-405 improvements, including a dual express toll lane system between downtown Bellevue and Renton to connect with the existing I-405 express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood. This project, scheduled to start construction in 2019 and open in 2024, will be critical to the delivering BRT on I-405. Learn more about the public comment periods associated with this project at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I405/RentontoBellevue/home.

I-405 BRT

I-405 BRT will connect communities along 37 miles of I-405 and SR 518 from Lynnwood to Burien. The project will include a new transit center in South Renton and 11 BRT stations, three of which will include added 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.
 
When service begins in 2024, riders will be able to travel from Lynnwood to Bellevue in 45 minutes, and from Burien to Bellevue in 48 minutes.
 
Learn more and sign up for alerts at https://www.soundtransit.org/projects-and-plans/bus-rapid-transit-i-405. View a video about the project at https://vimeo.com/266353581.

SR 522 BRT

The eight-mile SR 522 BRT route will serve the growing North Lake Washington communities with a range of enhancements to provide fast connections to Link light rail at Shoreline South/NE 145th and BRT on I-405. The project includes nine stations with additional parking at Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell; and an expanded transit center at UW Bothell.
 
Riders will be able to reliably travel from Lake Forest Park to downtown Seattle in 38 minutes via BRT and light rail from the future Shoreline South Link station when BRT starts service in 2024.
 
Learn more and sign up for alerts at https://www.soundtransit.org/projects-and-plans/bus-rapid-transit-sr-522. View a video about the project at https://vimeo.com/266353536.

In addition to BRT, Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south and east, opening new stations every few years to form a 116-mile regional system by 2041. The agency is on track to open extensions to Seattle's University District, Roosevelt and Northgate neighborhoods in 2021, followed by service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond's Overlake area in 2023. Additional extensions to Kent/Des Moines, Federal Way, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Downtown Redmond are planned to open in 2024. Further light rail extensions are scheduled to reach Tacoma and West Seattle in 2030; Seattle Center, South Lake Union and Ballard in 2035; Paine Field and Everett in 2036; and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041.