Beginning in late 2015, demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will require bus service to move to a new permanent pathway to and from downtown Seattle. Metro and the City of Seattle have been looking at options to connect transit from from State Route 99 and the West Seattle Bridge, south of downtown, along the Alaskan Way surface street to the Third Avenue transit spine in downtown Seattle.
After evaluating potential pathways, including Fourth Avenue S, First Avenue S, Yesler Way, and I-5, Metro has identified a two-way Columbia Street pathway as the most viable option for transit riders. Buses would travel in both directions on Columbia Street from Alaskan Way to Third Avenue, using transit-only lanes.
Pathways in SODO and Pioneer Square were eliminated from further consideration due to a range of issues, including travel time reliability, difficult turn movements for buses, conflicts with train, ferry, stadium, and streetcar traffic, and potential impacts on neighborhoods. Learn more about other pathways evaluated and not selected as viable options.
Based on input from riders and neighborhoods as well as our pathways analysis, the two-way Columbia Street pathway appears most viable. If transit priority improvements can be made, the Columbia pathway will be the fastest, most reliable option of those studied—and riders have a strong preference for this current pathway.
In June 2012, Metro asked riders which pathway they preferred. Most chose the Columbia Street pathway (see summary of results).
The chosen pathway will be crucial to keeping transit service fast and reliable for riders from southwest and northwest Seattle neighborhoods (including West Seattle and Ballard) who travel to, from, and through downtown Seattle.
- Routes that use the viaduct collectively carry some 22,000 riders (an additional 8,000 RapidRide D Line riders are also affected by this corridor)—similar to the totals carried by Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail service from SeaTac Airport to downtown Seattle (27,000 riders) and the SODO Busway (24,000 riders).
- Twelve routes, including the RapidRide C and D lines, rely on the Alaskan Way Viaduct to get to, from, and through downtown Seattle.
- About 15 percent of people currently using the viaduct are riding buses.
We continue to work with the City of Seattle and other key groups, including neighborhoods and business, to make a final decision on a pathway. The Central Waterfront Committee will make a recommendation to the Seattle City Council on street and transit design issues along the Central Waterfront in late May/early June. The final decision is expected sometime this summer.
- What’s needed to make Columbia Street work for transit.
- View and share the Southend Pathways Fact Sheet that summarizes this information.
- Read the City of Seattle’s South Downtown Transit Priority Pathways study.