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February 9, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Lane closures will slow Aurora Ave. buses

The southbound bus lane on Aurora Avenue North will be closed for up to 12 weeks this spring, forcing passengers on the crowded E Line and other routes to slog with general traffic from the Aurora Bridge to downtown.

“I imagine this will degrade transit service,” said Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, when the state revealed its plan during a Monday briefing.  Five bus lines on Aurora serve 25,300 daily riders, led by 13,700 on the E Line, based on spring 2014 data — and use likely has increased since then. Packed buses are common during peak times.

The shutdown is to set foundations for four large signposts, in preparation for the future Highway 99 tunnel, which might be open to traffic by late 2017.   The north portal of the deep-bored tube emerges between Seattle Center and the existing Highway 99, meeting the new two-way Mercer Street underpass.

Closures begin March 7, and would end when the work is done, said Dave Sowers, deputy operations administrator for the Highway 99 program at Washington State Department of Transportation. For the first seven to eight weeks, one northbound and one southbound lane will close. For the next phase, another four weeks, general traffic would still be allowed to merge into the southbound bus lane.

O’Brien also noted there are two southbound bus stops, where  cars will have to sit behind buses while passengers are hopping aboard.

The Council spent only a few moments discussing what will be a major commuter headache.  The state and city lack  alternate transit or car-detour plans for now, but Sowers said changes could be made depending on how the situation plays out, when construction begins.

 

 

 

 

Comments | Topics: Aurora Avenue, Highway 99 tunnel, RapidRide E Line

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