City, Metro set to improve bus route 245 performance

In an effort to improve and enhance performance of the bus Route 245, King County Metro is making some changes to the eastbound right turn at the Old Redmond Road and 148th Avenue Northeast intersection.

Another goal of the project is to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians as well.

While Metro is taking the lead, the agency is also working with the City of Redmond on the project.

Chester Knapp, a senior planner for the city, said their role has been to provide Metro with feedback as they are currently in the design stage. Metro will then finalize its designs with the city’s input.

According to a post on Metro’s blog, Metro Matters, the intersection currently includes a “pork chop” pedestrian island that separates the eastbound through-movement and a short eastbound right-turn “slip” lane.

“While functional, the existing design lacks adequate capacity for through traffic before it blocks the right-turn lane,” the blog states. “In turn, through traffic blocks right-turning vehicles (including Metro buses) and increases delay and travel time for the movement. During the morning peak hours, bus delay through this movement ranges from 20-30 seconds per coach.”

To help with this delay, Knapp said Metro plans to extend the right-turn lane on Old Redmond Road onto 148th Avenue Northeast. By doing this, right-turning vehicles — including buses — can get out from behind vehicles that are driving straight through the intersection.

Knapp said Metro had noticed that right-turning buses would often get stuck behind vehicles that are traveling straight through the intersection, causing delays in service.

Knapp said the goal of the project as well as other projects throughout the Route 245 corridor — which runs from the Kirkland Transit Center to the Eastgate Park and Ride in Bellevue — is to reduce delays to provide more reliable bus services for customers.

“Old Redmond Road is a place of particular interest on this route as Metro bus Route 245 is its only frequent transit service and connects the corridor to multiple Eastside destinations and regional transit lines,” the blog states.

Peter Dane, a planner for the City of Redmond, said some of those improvements include stop consolidation so the bus will stop fewer times throughout its route.

All of these projects are funded through a $2.19 million Regional Mobility grant Metro received from the Washington State Department of Transportation. Jeff Switzer, communications and public information officer for the King County Department of Transportation, said the grant is for the entire Route 245 corridor improvement project. The grant covers 80 percent of the project costs, he said.

“The 148th and Old Redmond Road improvement has a current cost estimate of $225,000,” Switzer said.

Dane said Metro would like to complete construction on all of the projects along the 245 route by the end of this year.

The project will also include a clearly marked painted bike lane through the intersection, a signalized pedestrian crossing from the pedestrian island to the sidewalk and enhanced roadway channelization to create a more uniform movement for right-turning drivers through the intersection, according to the blog.

In addition to improving performance for vehicles, these changes will also enhance bike and pedestrian performance through this location.

Another part of the project is reducing the turning radius for the right-turn lane to encourage vehicles to take it slower.

Dane said to adjust the turning radius, the proposed plans will utilize striping or raised pavement to encourage small vehicles to slow down while still providing a turning radius large enough for bigger vehicles such as buses and trucks.