Route 40 upgrades could be on the horizon. King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) have been working on the Route 40 Transit+ project, which could bring right-of-way improvements to the corridor, speeding up buses and improving reliability. SDOT has developed a variety of conceptual street enhancements, tabbed for several sections of the corridor in Westlake, Fremont, Ballard, and Greenwood based upon feedback from the public and operators. Improvements could reduce travel times by 5% to 10% during peak times.
In Westlake, street layout changes are being considered on Westlake Ave N between 9th Ave N and the Fremont Bridge. The 1.5-mile stretch of street would be modified by putting a bus-only lane in each direction on the four-lane street. To support access, four new concrete pads could be added at southbound bus stops. Other possible improvements include a new southbound left-turn lane for buses only at the Westlake Ave N and Valley St/Roy St intersection and a southbound queue jump at the N Highland Dr intersection. SDOT notes that these changes would provide “reduced transit travel times and improved reliability in both directions, especially northbound following bridge opening events.”
In Fremont, significant changes are proposed to Fremont Ave N between N 35th St and N 34th St as well as on N 35th St/N 36th St on approach to Fremont Ave N. Other streets could get more targeted improvements.
In terms of Fremont Ave N, SDOT is considering sidewalk replacements and curb ramp upgrades near the bus zones, new bus only lane markings, and a restriction of northbound left turns to N 34th St. Leading to the intersection with Fremont Ave N, SDOT is also considering a new bus-only turn lane westbound from N 35th St by removing parking and rechannelizing the street.
On N 36th St and Fremont Pl N between 1st Ave N and Fremont Ave N, a new southbound bus lane could be added to the street by removing a lane in each direction and revising the overall layout. This means that lanes would be shifted and a new center turn lane would be added to balance out the change. Sidewalk curb extensions and bus bulbs may also factor into the modifications at the intersections with N 35th St, Dayton Ave NW, Phinney Ave NW, and 1st Ave NW.
Where bus lanes are added, the red paint markings will be provided, though general traffic could enter most of the lanes near intersections to make right turns.
Ballard presents perhaps the most complex and varied types of improvements, which are tabbed for Leary Way/Ave NW and NW Market St. On Leary Way/Ave NW, SDOT has outlined the following possible improvements:
- Sidewalk repair and curb ramp upgrades, turn restrictions, a new eastbound through lane on Leary Way NW, and new westbound left turn lane on Leary Way NW are all possible changes at the 15th Ave NW intersection;
- From 15th Ave NW to 20th Ave NW, the street could be rechannelized from four lanes (two in each direction) with parking lanes on both sides to two lanes (one in each direction) with a center turn lane and wider parking lanes on both sides;
- Near the NW Dock St intersection, bus bulbs could be added for stops in both directions and short medians in the center of the street to prevent passing of buses;
- At the 20th Ave NW and NW Vernon Pl intersection, a full traffic signal could be installed along with new painted crosswalks, turn restrictions, a median island, and formal curb extensions to trim down the roadways and tighten up intersection points;
- A midblock crossing could be upgraded between 20th Ave NW and NW Market St with a curb bulb, center median islands, and enhanced flashing beacons; and
- Between 20th Ave NW and NW Market St, a new northbound bus lane and center turn lane could be added, replacing a general purpose lane in each direction.
On NW Market St, SDOT has indicated that following improvements could be made:
- Bus bulb extensions could extend the bus area along the curb between 22nd Ave NW and Ballard Ave NW;
- Bus-only lane signage could be added in both directions between 24th Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW on the outer lanes and red paint on pavement could follow the street repaving project;
- Northbound right turns from Leary Way NW to NW Market St could be prohibited; and
- Right turns from NW Market St to 22nd Ave NW could be prohibited except for buses.
In Greenwood, street layout changes would be focused on a nearly 500-foot stretch of Holman Rd NW between 3rd Ave NW and NW 104th St. The existing center turn lane would be removed with left turns being prohibited in both directions on Holman Rd NW. With the surplus lane, the center lane would be converted to a general purpose lane and the southernmost lane would become a bus-only lane for northbound buses.
SDOT’s corridor survey is open through April 16th. Feedback on the survey could be critical to implementing and improving upon the conceptual improvements. The project will proceed to 30% design, possibly as soon as early June. Timing for project completion is estimated to be 2024, but funding considerations could mean that the timeline might slide further — having already slid from 2023 and originally envisioned as RapidRide under the Move Seattle Levy.
Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound 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. With stints in great cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use and transportation issues and has been with The Urbanist since 2014.