Bus Lanes Considered For Highway 99
To ease traffic snarls on Highway 99 in King and Snohomish counties, an attempt will be made to open lanes for buses.
Community Transit and Metro are cooperating on a $150,000 study to decide how to change the road to speed up public transportation between the Seattle city limits at North 145th Street and Casino Road in Everett.
Highway 99 - called Aurora Avenue in King County and Evergreen Way in Everett - is the major north-south route other than Interstate 5.
Metro will oversee the study, which is expected to be completed next spring.
The study will examine possibilities for exclusive lanes for buses as well as bus pullouts for stops and bypass lanes at intersections so buses can maneuver outside the regular flow of traffic.
Bus pullouts could speed up other traffic by allowing public-transportation vehicles to get out of the travel lanes while discharging or taking on passengers.
Transit officials are interested in finding out if exclusive bus lanes or high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes can work on arterials.
``There has been a big push to look at the feasibility and realism of putting HOV lanes on arterial roads,'' said Carolyn Feiss, director of the Snohomish County Transportation Authority.
A demonstration project in King County, where Metro installed an HOV lane on about a mile of Aurora Avenue, indicates an exclusive lane may be feasible on that arterial, Feiss said.
She called the study an extension of the work done by the Highway 99 task force, which raised a lot of questions and issues. Metro wanted a study on the corridor and Everett and Snohomish County also expressed an interest, triggering the joint study.
Much of what is being done is to find out what makes HOV lanes work on arterials. Right now, there are exclusive lanes only on the freeways.
Most of the money for the bus study is coming from federal grants. Community Transit is putting up $12,000 to go with $50,000 in federal money. That $62,000 will be put in a pool, with Metro and its federal grant bringing the total to $150,000.
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