The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, March 10, 2008

HOV problem on SR 520

Getting There: SR 520's problem isn't just the bridge


Question: Evergreen Point Bridge commuter Greg Koehler looks forward to a new bridge complete with car pool and transit lanes. But, "speaking from experience, the bridge segment across the lake is already one of the better-flowing parts of the commute. The difficulty is getting to the span, especially from Redmond headed to Seattle in the afternoons and evenings, and in particular, from Northup Way (east of Interstate 405) to 92nd Avenue Northeast, before you reach Evergreen Point."

During heavy traffic, the car pool-transit lane is clogged with solo-driver traffic as they attempt to merge onto the main lines from each of the onramps.

He wants to know about a state proposal to redo the HOV lanes, perhaps moving them to the inside lane to avoid the problem. He wonders when the work will begin, how the arrangement will work and if the state has ever considered adding a blinking orange light, a white line or posting signs at each onramp warning drivers not to block the HOV lane.

"The blinking signal could be turned on when the main lines are filled to capacity and officers could help enforce the law and ticket drivers that ignore the sign and block the road," he said.

Answer: Deputy Project Director Julie Meredith said an East Corridor Visioning Study is examining ways to improve flow on state Route 520 between 108th Avenue Northeast and state Route 202 in Redmond. That work includes possible relocation of the HOV lanes -- before the bridge is replaced -- to the inside, adjacent to the median.

Initial conclusions will be presented to the Joint Legislative Transportation Committee this fall and the study will be finished by January.

Meredith said issues needing attention include a possible new interchange near 124th Avenue Northeast, developing a pedestrian-bike trail from west of 108th to just east of I-405, proposed rezoning along Bel-Red Road, and "a construction plan for the Eastside that considers overpasses, ramps, fish passage culverts, and placement of the transit stops."

The idea "is in the very early stages of development" and will require coordination with transit agencies to determine location of bus stops.

"We recognize the need to improve transit reliability along the SR-520 corridor," Meredith said. "The ... bridge replacement and HOV project includes a full-length HOV lane between SR-202 and I-5 relocated to the inside lanes," plus the needed transit stops between I-405 and I-5.

"Early construction has not been considered in the past because of funding availability," Meredith said.

She said do-not-block signs and lights won't work "because drivers from these ramps would have no access to SR-520 in the evenings. The other general purpose lanes of SR-520 are so congested that drivers from these ramps would not be able to find a large enough gap ... (to) immediately jump into the nearest general purpose lane ... . Forcing traffic to shoot across an active lane of traffic would be unsafe." Meters are used on the ramps now, she said.

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