Plan Seeks to Make Third Avenue Safer, More Attractive

The downtown Seattle street is among the busiest bus corridors in the country
Updated: Thu, 06/27/2019 - 15:37
 
 
  • The downtown Seattle street is among the busiest bus corridors in the country

Wider sidewalks, a more inviting streetscape and fewer buses are among the ideas being floated as Seattle officials consider ways to revamp Third Avenue in downtown Seattle.

The Downtown Seattle Association formally unveiled plans to remake Third Avenue at an open house June 26. Several big ideas are on the table, including creating a three-lane street, adding a median in the middle of the road where pedestrians could catch buses, adding a transit shuttle and hub and diverting some bus traffic to Second and Fourth avenues.

Plans also call for widening sidewalks from their current 19 feet to between 27 and 33 feet.

A report says that Third Avenue is one of the busiest transit corridors in the country, with 290 buses and more than 52,000 riders every weekday.

“Third Avenue should be a welcoming retail experience with buildings that foster public life,” the report says, adding that retail options are “inadequate” and that the street often feels unwelcoming and unsafe. The report notes that several “quick wins” have already happened on the street, including the removal of phone booths, repairing lighting, trimming trees and cleaning bus stops.

The Downtown Seattle Association is coordinating the project, which has no distinct timeline, though diverting buses could happen as soon as 2021 when light rail service expands. Funding is also unclear. The report grew out of a Third Avenue Vision task force which met numerous times in 2018.

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