Rainier Ave S Corridor Improvements

Updated: August 21, 2018

What’s happening now?

We’re enhancing safety on Rainier Ave S between S Kenny St and S Henderson St. In 2017, we reviewed crash data, engaged the community, and worked with our partners at King County Metro Transit on how to reduce crashes and keep people and goods moving along Rainier Ave S from S Kenny St to S Henderson St. As a result, we’re now doing traffic analysis on a design that maintains on-street parking where it exists, keeps one-driving lane in each direction, adds a center turn lane, and adds a northbound business access and transit (BAT) lane, or a bus lane.

Lane design cross section for Rainier Ave S

Based on the outreach and analysis, we’ll finalize a design, share it with the community, and expect to implement the new design in 2019.

Project Overview

Between 2005 and 2014, there were nearly 3,600 total collisions along Rainier Ave S. During a 6-month study in 2015, on average, there was 1 crash per day that took 45 minutes to clear. Rainier has almost double the number of crashes per mile compared to Aurora Ave N and Lake City Way NE even though they carry almost twice the vehicle volume.

In 2014, we launched a collaborative process to review conditions along Rainier Avenue S as part of Seattle’s Vision Zero program to reach zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. We are committed to preventing crashes and improving safety for all travelers. Our project goals are to:

  • Reduce the average vehicle speed and incidents of speeding
  • Reduce the number of serious injury or fatal collisions
  • Improve intersections
  • Improve bus speed and reliability

Phase 1

In 2015, we redesigned one mile of Rainier between S Alaska St and S Kenny St from four to three lanes. This project successfully improved safety along Rainier Ave S in Columbia City and Hillman City. Highlights include:

  • Collisions reduced by 15%
  • Vehicle speeds reduced by 16% northbound and 10% southbound
  • Transit travel times improved by 1 minute in the southbound direction during the PM peak hour
  • There have been zero serious injury or fatal crashes in the area we redesigned

Read the full evaluation report

Phase 2

In 2017, we continued our work on Rainier Ave S from S Kenny St to S Henderson.

Phase 2 project map
Click to enlarge

Phase 2 Options presented in 2017

Option 1

Option 1 diagram


  • Northbound bus lane may decrease bus travel times and increase reliability in the northbound direction
  • Retains on-street parking and provides center-turn lanes along Rainier Ave S


  • Bus and center lane may be used as an illegal passing lane
  • May reduce bus reliability in the southbound direction
  • Might consolidate parking to one side of the street

Option 2

Option 2 diagram, cross section between intersections
Cross section between intersections

Option 2 diagram, cross section at intersections
Cross section at intersections


  • Provides a relatively flat parallel north-south bike route in Rainier Valley
  • Provides on-street parking


  • May reduce bus reliability
  • In-lane bus stops and parallel parking maneuvers may stop and slow traffic
  • Full build-out may exceed project budget

What We Heard

Below are the trade-offs of each option, and key points of feedback that we heard during 2017 outreach.

Option 1 (Dedicated northbound bus lane)Option 2 (Protected Bike Lanes)
Traffic Operational Impacts
  • Slight increase in delay at signalized intersections. The intersection with the highest delay is S Othello St, where drivers will experience wait an average of 34 seconds longer.
  • Substantial impacts to people driving, taking bus and freight along Rainier
  • Need for center turn lanes throughout the project area, due to side street access demand
What We Heard
  • Support for center-turn lane
  • Support for dedicated bus lane(s) to improve bus travel times
  • Desire for frequent and reliable transit on Metro Route 7 and future RapidRide
  • Senior populations preferred Alterative 1, but expressed concerns about potential bus stop consolidation due to mobility challenges
  • Generally, women with children expressed they preferred Alternative 1, but selected Alternative 2 because they support their children having bike lanes in the future
  • Support maximizing number of parking spaces for adjacent multifamily use

You can learn more about what we heard in our Outreach Summary and view the results of the Traffic Analysis.

Other projects along Rainier Ave S

Phase 2 Schedule

Summer 2017: Share options for input
Spring 2018: Identify option for consideration
Winter 2018: Share final design
2019: Anticipated construction
2020: Evaluate project


We received funding from the Real Estate Tax to fund the second phase of the Rainier Ave S Corridor Improvements Project. The project is also funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, a 9-year $930 million levy approved by voters in 2015.


Phase 2 (S Kenny St to S Henderson St)

Phase 1 (S Alaska St to S Kenny St)

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