3rd Ave Improvements

September 2023

What's Happening Now?

We’re getting ready to make changes to 3rd Ave in downtown and Pioneer Square to make buses more reliable and efficient, and streets safer and more comfortable for people walking, biking, and rolling. We’re currently designing many of these changes and expect to start implementing them in this year (2024). Now that we've reached 2024 and are poised to begin construction soon, we want to hear from you - please take our pre-construction survey. If you have questions about the project or would like a briefing, please contact the project outreach lead.

King County Metro bus drivers navigate 3rd Ave’s bus only lanes through downtown Seattle

King County Metro bus drivers navigate 3rd Ave’s bus only lanes through downtown Seattle 

Overview

3rd Ave is Seattle’s busiest bus corridor and one of the busiest transit corridors in the state. Prior to the pandemic, it was traveled by more than 2,500 buses carrying 100,000 riders each day. This important bus corridor connects thousands of people walking, biking, and taking transit to jobs, housing, events, businesses and shopping centers, restaurants, cultural centers, service providers, and other transit connections to local and regional destinations. Over the next 2 years, we will be:

Building street, sidewalk, and bus stop upgrades in Pioneer Square

This includes upgrades to the southbound bus stop at 3rd Ave S and S Main St, and safety improvements for people walking, biking, and rolling at the intersection of 3rd Ave and Yesler Way. Click on the links to visit these project webpages to learn more.  

Expanding the 6 AM – 7 PM bus only restrictions on 3rd Ave three blocks north to Blanchard St.

In 2018, we began prioritizing buses on 3rd Ave by restricting the street to buses only from 6 AM – 7 PM each day between Yesler Way and Stewart St. We’re extending these bus only restrictions three blocks north from Stewart St to Blanchard St, which will complete our planned improvements to the 3rd Ave Transit Corridor. Extending the bus only restrictions to Blanchard St will help many high ridership buses with frequent service (such as RapidRide C, D, E, and Route 40) travel more efficiently and have reliable travel times.  

The map below shows where we are extending the bus only restrictions, and the travel restrictions for all other vehicles when the bus only restrictions are in place. We plan to extend the bus only restrictions as soon as summer 2024.

Map of travel restrictions on 3rd Ave between Stewart St and Blanchard St

  • The 3rd Ave transit corridor is restricted to public transportation buses 7 days a week from 6 AM – 7 PM. This does not include school buses, work shuttles, or charter buses. 
  • Vehicles with commercial load zone permits can used designated loading zones on 3rd Ave from 9 AM – 3 PM. 
  • Vehicles other than public transportation buses can travel on 3rd Ave for up to one block to make deliveries and enter or exit driveways or garages. After traveling one block, vehicles must turn right off of 3rd Ave. 
  • Left turns are prohibited for all vehicles except buses. 
  • People biking can use 3rd Ave, although they are encouraged to use dedicated bike lanes on 2nd Ave and 4th Ave.
  • Emergency vehicles are allowed to travel on 3rd Ave when responding to an incident.  

Paving 3rd Ave between Virginia St and Pine St, and between Yesler Way and S Main St.

Starting as soon as summer 2024, we’ll begin repaving 3rd Ave between Virginia St and Pine St. While we rebuild the street, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will also replace an aging cast iron lead joint watermain between Virginia St and Pine St originally built in 1910.  

We will also repave most of 3rd Ave S between Yesler Way and S Main St when we upgrade the bus stop at 3rd Ave S and S Main St starting in summer 2024. SPU will also make repairs to their storm sewer system at the intersections of S Washington St and 3rd Ave S, and at S Main St and 2nd Ave Extension S.   

Repaving these sections of 3rd Ave will help buses travel more efficiently on smoother, stronger pavement. We will conduct additional outreach to impacted properties in advance of the paving and waterline work to help them prepare for construction.  

Paving 3rd Ave between Virginia St and Pine St, and between Yesler Way and S Main St.

Wayfinding signs along 3rd Avenue

Starting as soon as summer 2024, we’ll begin repaving 3rd Ave between Virginia St and Pine St. While we rebuild the street, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will also replace an aging cast iron lead joint watermain between Virginia St and Pine St originally built in 1910. 

We will also repave most of 3rd Ave S between Yesler Way and S Main St when we upgrade the bus stop at 3rd Ave S and S Main St starting in summer 2024. SPU will also make repairs to their storm sewer system at the intersections of S Washington St and 3rd Ave S, and at S Main St and 2nd Ave Extension S.  

Repaving these sections of 3rd Ave will help buses travel more efficiently on smoother, stronger pavement. We will conduct additional outreach to impacted properties in advance of the paving and waterline work to help them prepare for construction.

Working with King County Metro to upgrade real-time information kiosks at bus stops

Many of the existing real-time information kiosks don’t work anymore, and King County Metro will be replacing these kiosks. To get ready, SDOT will remove the existing kiosks and their foundations and build new foundations so Metro can install the new kiosks. The new kiosks will have real-time bus arrival information and ORCA cards readers to help people board the bus more quickly. King County Metro expects to start installing the new kiosks as soon as late 2024.

Map showing the locations of where King County Metro is replacing the real-time bus arrival info kiosks

Stop ID Direction On Street Cross Street
431 S Third Ave Pike
468 S Third Ave Seneca
481 S Third Ave Columbia
490 S Third Ave Cherry
538 N Third Ave Columbia
558 N Third Ave Seneca
578 N Third Ave Pike
590 N Third Ave Pine
1610 N Prefontaine Place S Yesler Way
10328 W Valley Street Fairview Ave N
26641 S Westlake Mercer
26645 S Westlake Harrison
26665 S Westlake 9th
26690 N Westlake 9th
26715 N Westlake Harrison

These improvements are just one part of the City of Seattle’s bigger plan to make downtown safer, easier to get around, and more welcoming. Extending dedicated bus only hours on 3rd Ave also supports the Mayor's Executive Order on climate justice in transportation by investing in bus lanes. See our 3rd Ave Improvements factsheet for more information.

Funding

These 3rd Ave improvements are funded with various funding sources, including the voter-approved Move Seattle Levy and Seattle Transit Measure. Funding is also provided by Sound Transit grants, King County Metro grants, and the Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program.  

Schedule

The schedule below shows planned milestones and may change: 

End of 2023: 

  • Design complete for 3rd and Yesler safety improvements and 3rd and Main bus stop improvements projects  

Early 2024: 

  • Paving design plans complete 
  • 3rd and Yesler safety improvements construction begins  

Summer 2024: 

  • Paving and waterline replacement begins (between Pine St and Virgina St) 
    3rd and Main bus stop improvement construction begins 
  • Kiosk design complete 
  • Transit corridor extension to Blanchard St occurs once paving is completed 

Fall 2024: 

  • 3rd and Yesler safety improvements construction complete  

End of 2024: 

  • 3rd and Main bus stop improvement construction complete
  • Kiosk installation begins 

Early 2025:

  • Paving expected to be complete  

Summer 2025:

  • Kiosk installation expected to be complete 

Materials

3rd Ave Improvements Factsheet

3rd Ave Improvements: Paving and Water Main Replacement Fact Sheet

3rd Ave Improvements - Paving & Water Main Replacement Frequently Asked Questions

Translated Flyers on 3rd Ave Transit Corridor Extension:

3rd Ave Projects

Learn more about the 3rd Ave projects at these project webpages: 

To learn more about projects happening throughout the entire City, view our Capital Projects Dashboard.

Transportation

Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623
684-Road@seattle.gov

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.