Contractors for the Seattle Department of Transportation will soon tear up Madison Street to build the RapidRide G bus route, which voters approved in 2015 to make trips across First Hill simpler.

New stations will be added throughout the corridor, some in a center median, along with concrete street panels to carry bus loads of approximately 45,000 pounds.

Service is scheduled to begin in 2024. Familiar red buses would arrive as often as every six minutes, from First Avenue downtown to Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the Madison Valley.

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SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe, King County Metro Transit General Manager Terry White, Federal Transit Administration chief Nuria Fernandez and other leaders are scheduled to speak at a Thursday morning groundbreaking ceremony next to Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The FTA awarded $80.5 million and Sound Transit $36 million toward the $133 million project.

The city advertised a completion goal of 2020 at a cost of $120 million in the Move Seattle property-tax campaign of 2015, followed by the 2016 Sound Transit 3 measure. But SDOT couldn’t obtain its desired customized electric trolley buses that also offered left-side doors to fit four stations in the street medians.


The city settled on hybrid-diesel buses, though battery-powered buses may become available later. SDOT is also dealing with a broader money shortage caused by over-optimistic levy promises and construction-industry inflation.

RapidRide G Line was designed to share a First Avenue station with a streetcar called the Central City Connector, placed on hold indefinitely by Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council.

Even without streetcar connections, RapidRide G should improve commuter and patient access from the state ferry terminal to First Hill hospitals; save riders about five minutes compared to less-direct local routes, by creating a mile of Madison Street bus lanes; and improve sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Curbside parking will be removed for several blocks.

Construction will occur mostly on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., within scattered work zones 1,500 feet apart, a city update says. Work near Broadway will cease in the summer during Pride Fest and the Capitol Hill Block Party.