The Highway 99 tunnel has been open for months, but continued construction associated with the project is challenging transit riders, pedestrians and drivers at Denny Way and the former Aurora Avenue North.
Since February, crews have been filling in the Battery Street Tunnel with rubble from the Alaskan Way Viaduct and rebuilding Seventh Avenue North, formerly called Aurora Avenue North, between Denny Way and Harrison Street. Crews are also reconnecting Thomas and John streets across Seventh Avenue North.
As a result of the work, being done by contractors for the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the northbound and southbound bus stops for transit riders who take King County Metro routes 5, 5 Express, 26 Express, 28 Express and the E Line have been relocated.
About 1,600 riders boarded the northbound stop on Borealis Avenue, between Denny and Sixth Avenue, each weekday from September through March, before that stop was closed due to construction, according to Metro data.
“That area represents challenges due to the configuration,” said King County Metro spokesman Travis Shofner. He said transit users will see improvements when all construction is complete next year.
The sidewalk in front of the Elephant Car Wash on Borealis is being rebuilt. The red bus-only lane heading north begins merging with general traffic on Battery Street and the right lane fully closes on Borealis.
The bus stop for northbound transit riders that had been located on Borealis has been moved temporarily to Battery Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Detour signs direct pedestrians down Seventh Avenue to Battery Street to get to the new bus stop.
While the Borealis bus shelter had several benches, there is no seating at the new location.
The bus stop will move back to its original location on Borealis sometime in August, but not permanently, Shofner said.
Once all construction is complete, the northbound bus stop will be moved to Seventh Avenue North, on the north side of Denny Way. That move isn’t expected until early 2020.
Meanwhile, southbound riders who were dropped at the corner of Seventh Avenue North and Denny Way have been moved to Wall Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. That stop will remain there.
New northbound and southbound stops will also be added between Thomas and Harrison on Seventh Avenue North.
The sidewalk on Denny Way crossing Seventh Avenue North is temporarily closed as the Seventh Avenue North rebuild continues. The sidewalks on portions of Sixth Avenue and Wall Street, and on portions of Eighth Avenue and Bell Street are also closed for building construction.
Signs alerting pedestrians of the changes were posted July 8, Shofner said, the same day the bus stops changed. WSDOT also sent notices through its Alaskan Way Viaduct listserv.
WSDOT spokeswoman Laura Newborn said the agency has no plans to have police officers direct traffic in the area during construction.
“Police traffic control is one of the tools considered in a case-by-case basis,” Newborn said.
Police are generally requested in situations when the normal traffic signal operations need to be overridden, said Ethan Bergerson, spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Still, the movement and closures have confused some transit riders and drivers. During the first few days of the bus-stop change, some riders crossed through moving traffic to flag down their bus before it left.
If you have questions or comments about the construction or closures in this area, please email Traffic Lab at firstname.lastname@example.org.