5th/6th Transit Pathway Installation Begins Saturday, March 2

New bus lane in downtown Seattle will help keep transit moving during the next chapter of the #SeattleSqueeze.

We made it through the longest highway closure in the Puget Sound Region! But the Seattle Squeeze is far from over.

Our next chapter of the Seattle Squeeze begins on March 23, 2019, when all buses that use the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will be permanently relocated to surface streets. This change is being made to accommodate the Washington State Convention Center construction and future Link light rail expansion to the Eastside in 2023. In all, 15 bus routes will be changing what bus stops they serve. Additionally, all-door boarding will launch on 3rd Avenue, with 21 of 30 locations active starting March 23.

A bus on 3rd Ave

Things are going to feel different downtown.

  • More buses on the street: About 800 more buses will travel daily on downtown streets.  During the rush hour, there will be about 70 more buses on the street.
  • More people getting on and off their bus on downtown sidewalks: This change affects about 37,600 daily riders, including the 11,000 people who catch their bus downtown during the evening rush hour.

To keep buses and riders moving, the City of Seattle is building a new transit pathway on 5th Ave and 6th Ave.

To keep people moving efficiently through downtown, we’re creating a new northbound transit pathway on 5th Ave and 6th Ave in downtown Seattle. The existing, northbound transit lane on 5th Ave will be extended 2 blocks to Marion St, where it will connect to 6th Ave and continue north to Olive Way.

This new pathway will provide more transit capacity and improve travel time and reliability for northbound buses. The King County Metro routes that will use the new transit pathway to access I-5 northbound include:

74, 76, 77, 252, 255, 257, 301, 308, 311, 316

A map detailing the bus route changes
Project map with new transit pathway and bus information.

Installation of the 5th/6th Transit Pathway began this week with signal work on 5th Ave in downtown Seattle.

You’ll start noticing bigger changes to the street layout this weekend.

Starting Saturday, March 2, we will remove existing street markings and lane stripes by “hydroblasting,” which can be loud, and then install the new lane stripes and markings.

We will work on removing lane striping and adding new striping from 7 AM, Saturday, March 2, to 11 PM, Tuesday, March 5.

All noisy work will be completed 9 AM – 10 PM on the weekend, and 7 AM – 10 PM on weekdays.

The approved noise variance permit has been posted and we’ve spray-painted the layout on the streets and sidewalks already.

During this work you can expect:

  • “No Park” signs near the project area at least 72 hours in advance of work starting
  • Noise, dust, and vibrations during work hours
  • Intermittent lane restrictions and reroutes as we work along the corridor

This new striping will combine with new signs, new traffic signals, and new bus stops to create the 24/7 bus lane on 5th Ave and the peak-only bus lane on 6th Ave.

Get ready: 5th Ave and 6th Ave will feel different than they do today.

A street view of how the lanes will change
Example lane configuration along 6th Ave, between University St and Union St.

There will be more buses traveling northbound, the numbers of lanes will change in some locations, and parking and loading spaces will be restricted on the west side of the street between 3-7 pm. The existing parking lane on the west side, from Pine St to University St, will now be a travel lane during peak periods. Please be aware of these changes and practice patience as we all adjust to new ways of getting around downtown.

Overall, 5th Ave is going to feel different. Buses will now be heading northbound towards oncoming traffic, and southbound turns into I-5 express lanes will be made from the center lane instead of the curbside lane as buses pass through the area. If you’re traveling on 5th Ave, be ready for these changes.

You’re also going to see more buses on Marion St to 6th Ave. Right now, this stretch carries 10 buses per hour. After March 23, it will carry 53 buses an hour.

We are adding right turn signals at 6th Ave and Pike St and 6th Ave and Olive Way to help buses and vehicles making right turns off of 6th Ave, and to reduce potential conflict between people walking and people driving in the crosswalks.

We are being flexible with improvements and we will continue to monitor and adjust signal timing or striping if needed.

Thank you for your patience as we work to connect communities to downtown Seattle with fast, regular service and to create the public spaces our growing region needs during the #SeattleSqueeze!