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Originally published Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 8:04 PM

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3rd Ave. bus route awarded $4.1 million federal grant

Combined with another federal grant and local money, the improvements along Seattle's primary bus corridor, on Third Avenue, will total nearly $6 million. Metro will add bus-stop shelters, signs showing arrival times, ticket-vending machines, streetlights, "branding" signs for the red-and-yellow RapidRide routes, and sidewalk improvements.

Seattle Times transportation reporter

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I'm all for these improvements, but the improvements will be all for not if they don't... MORE
the Third Avenue grant supports service and aesthetic improvements Great. So they... MORE
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The feds have awarded King County Metro Transit $4.1 million to retrofit Third Avenue, the primary bus corridor serving 40,000 riders a day in downtown Seattle.

The award is among $787 million worth of annual State of Good Repair and Bus Livability Grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. While many are routine capital funds — for instance, $5 million for Sound Transit to replace aging buses — the Third Avenue grant supports service and aesthetic improvements. Metro will add bus-stop shelters, signs showing arrival times, ticket-vending machines, streetlights, "branding" signs for the RapidRide routes, and sidewalk improvements.

Combined with a related $700,000 federal grant and an expected $1.2 million in local money, the bus-stop improvements total nearly $6 million, said Metro general manager Kevin Desmond. Improvements will extend through Belltown to Denny Way, he said.

About $500,000 would go for ticket machines, a possible first step toward a cashless zone or system someday, Desmond said. Metro wants riders to buy bus tickets on the street instead of fumbling for change when they board. Already, buses line up two, three or four deep, so Metro needs to speed them along to stay on schedule. The pressure for off-bus payment will grow when the downtown free-ride area is eliminated Sept. 29.

Desmond said he's interested in widening the Columbia Street sidewalks between First Avenue and the waterfront, a route that leads to the ferry terminal, the future Sodo Highway 99 interchange, West Seattle and Burien. Meanwhile, the city is working on a Third Avenue Corridor Initiative to beautify the area and deter crime, with tactics that include more police on the sidewalks.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @mikelindblom.

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