Spot Fix: Bus Lane Improvements Planned for Wallingford


An extended transit-only lane is in the planning process for Wallingford. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is proposing a small rechannelization of N 45th St between Midvale Ave N and Stone Way N, which could reduce dwell times in the westbound direction for Route 44, a workhorse in the King County Metro system.

The existing bus lane in the neighborhood picks up a half-block west of Stone Way N as N 45th St bends north and turns into N Midvale Pl. That westbound bus lane extends as far as the Green Lake Way N intersection and includes a queue jump, the result of earlier corridor improvements for transit implemented several years ago.

“We estimate that the N Midvale Pl transit lane extension will lead to time savings for about 44% of bus trips,” said Ethan Bergeson of SDOT. “In addition to time savings, the transit lane extension will also have safety benefits because buses will not need to merge into the same lane as cars.” 

General changes planned for the street. (City of Seattle)
General changes planned for the street. (City of Seattle)

The vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts would be reduced in several ways:

  • SDOT plans to partially eliminate an intersection point on N 45th St by removing the westbound lane west of the street bend where the street turns into N Midvale Pl. Currently, vehicles can stay straight on N 45th St to reach Midvale Ave N instead of following the bend, but that means crossing a lane of traffic heading the opposition direction on N 45th St. SDOT would remove the stop sign at this intersection and convert the north side of N 45th St between the bend and Midvale Ave N into angled back-in on-street parking.
  • The new bus lane on N 45th St means that buses will not need to pull in and out of traffic, further reducing that potential conflict.

Rechannelization, as proposed, does mean changes for pedestrians. The existing midblock pedestrian crossing at the awkward bend-intersection would be moved back a half-block west on N Midvale Pl, which could mean longer walks for some people. This configuration realistically could result in safer crossings since the intersection at Midvale Ave N is more obvious to people driving. SDOT would also install a pedestrian crossing connecting the south side of N 45th St to the triangle island, which strangely is missing the marked crossing.

Under the preliminary schedule, improvements are planned for installation in winter 2020.

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

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Recently (since the above street view picture was taken) there was a stop sign placed on eastbound 46th. I’ll take a picture next time I’m up there so we can argue about who is more accurate.

Jeff Dubrule

It’s not mid-block, unless consider all T-intersections as mid-block, too.
I don’t see any need to spend $ grinding off this crosswalk.


This sure looks like a backward step for pedestrians. The current location is hardly ‘mid-block’ since it currently has stop signs for all traffic except Westbound 45th to 46th. In the new location, it appears that pedestrians will be crossing an extra lane, without an island, and in a location where cars do not expect to stop. I hope they at least put up the type of flashing lights they have on Stone Way.

Stephen Fesler

I’d recommend contacting Jonathan Dong on that. (See the embedded flyer for email.)

You’re right that the extra lane could be problematic for crossing and it definitely means that many pedestrian crossings will require a longer walk to ultimately get to where someone wants to go.

Dave R

Bruce, that’s not accurate: currently traffic on the major arterial (45th- Midvale Pl -46th) does not have a stop sign in either direction, westbound or eastbound.


Well, sorta. The eastbound direction has a “stop when pedestrians are present” sign.,-122.3434348,3a,75y,123.33h,80.23t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZppaZ7IZuq8PQWL85OQO1w!2e0!7i16384!8i8192 Westbound to Midvale Pl is the only never-stop way.

Ott Toomet

It is laudable that SDOT is doing something to improve bus service. But I feel that they spend too little effort to justify removing the mid-block pedestrian crossing. The blocks take quite a bit of time to navigate around and the triangular shape adds distance. Despite of being safer, the solution may end up less convenient (and potentially even less safe). Would be nice to supplement the plans with at least a superficial analysis about the main pedestrian corridors and how the proposed change plays into that picture.

Adding my own experience here (living in Wallingford): I sometimes cross 45th and Stone, but rarely that junction.

Stephen Fesler

See my comment above.