New bus lanes could lengthen Aurora Ave. commute

SEATTLE - The Monday morning commute may have just gotten a little longer for the tens of thousands of drivers who use Aurora Avenue.

It's likely to be slow going for commuters on one of Seattle's busiest corridors in the name of Rapid Ride.

"We anticipate that because we're taking out a lane of traffic that traffic on the other two general purpose lanes will be heavier," says Jonathan Dong of the city's Department of Transportation.

Starting Monday, the right-hand lane on both the northbound and southbound sides will become business access and transit lanes - also knows as BAT lanes.

From 6 to 9 a.m. and also from 3 to 7 p.m., the lanes from North 115th Street to the Aurora Bridge will be restricted to buses only.

The Seattle Transportation Department says new stops for the Rapid Ride E Line bus will mean faster and better service.

But when it comes to installation, did haste make waste?

"Unfortunately there was a mistake," says Dong.

On the Rapid Ride line, there's a stretch between North 63rd Street and Winona Avenue where the bus leaves Aurora and later returns. It didn't need a lane, but crews installed one anyway.

The city calls it an oversight that needs correcting.

"We are actually in the process of correcting it this weekend so those markings will be removed," says Dong.

Carving the lane marking out of the road is costing the city of Seattle $5,000. The city says that won't put the project over it's $600,000 budget.

And as drivers are funneled onto fewer lanes, engineers say they'll be keeping a keen eye on signals, adjusting them to keep every commuter moving.

"What we like to tell people is that there's an equal number of people riding the bus as there are driving," Dong says.

The cost of the project is covered by a federal grant. The Rapid Ride E Line is expected to begin service in February.