Design for $19 million I-90 project underway - Sound Transit project to add two new HOV lanes

By Wendy Giroux

Design work is underway for Sound Transit's Interstate 90 Two-way Transit and HOV Operations project, often called ``R-8A.''

The $18.9 million R-8A plan will add a fourth lane for buses and carpool vehicles to each of the outer roadways of I-90 by narrowing the existing lanes and shoulders. It calls for four phases:

  • Phase 1: westbound HOV between Bellevue Way and 80th Avenue S.E.
  • Phase 2: westbound HOV between 80th and Rainier Avenue
  • Phase 3: eastbound HOV between Rainier and 77th Avenue S.E.
  • Phase 4: eastbound HOV between 77th and Bellevue Way.

Work on the westbound HOV lanes between Bellevue Way and 80th Avenue S.E. on the Island is funded and scheduled for design this year. Construction is slated to start in summer of 2006 and finish in 2007. The project will include a new westbound HOV lane in the outer roadway, a direct access ramp at 80th and traffic signals at the new 80th ramp and the existing East Mercer Way offramp.

Mercer Island city staff will help review the plans as details become available, and will participate in traffic management discussions with the state Department of Transportation and Sound Transit to make sure construction vehicles using Island streets are minimized and that drivers who use city streets to avoid construction delays are managed.

Phases two through four have not yet been funded or scheduled.

The R-8A plan was selected after a steering committee of representatives from throughout the area examined a number of alternatives, including: R-1, no build; R-2B, converting the center roadway to two-way transit and carpool use; R-5 modified, adding a peak period bus-only lane on the outer roadways -- westbound in the morning and eastbound in the evening -- with the reversible center roadway maintained; and R-5 restripe, similar to R-5 but with outside transit shoulders.

For more information about the project, visit Sound Transit's Web site at

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