Route 40 - Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor

Making bus trips faster, enhancing reliability, and improving safety.

Updated January 17, 2024

What's Happening Now?

We have completed the final design for the Route 40 - Transit Plus Multimodal Corridor Project! Please visit the Online Engagement Hub to review the final designs in Westlake, Fremont, Ballard, and Crown Hill.

Since 2020, the community has helped design quality street improvements to provide a safer place for people to get around and keep Route 40 reliable. Your feedback was important in helping us achieve the project goals which include improving reliability, access, and safety along the Route 40 corridor.  

Here’s what we heard: 

General themes of community priorities: 

  • Overall support for the design of the Route 40 corridor as it was developed.
  • Overall support for increased traffic calming measures throughout the Route 40 corridor.
  • Overall support for additional safety and mobility improvements for people walking, biking, and rolling.  

Key community concerns about the design included: 

  1. Concerns from Fremont business owners about personal and property safety near bus stops.
  2. Concerns from business owners about parking removal and changes to loading zones in the Westlake, Fremont, and Ballard neighborhoods.
  3. Concerns from business owners about freight movement in Westlake neighborhood.
  4. Concerns from neighbors about increased traffic congestion in Fremont, Ballard, and Westlake. 
  5. Questions from neighborhood organizations about what environmental review was completed for the project, specifically regarding vehicle emissions and water pollution.  

In response, we updated the final design or responded by:

  1. Offered meetings with Fremont business and property owners to design a new bus stop located near them. We are coordinating a collaborative design effort with businesses to help determine what this bus stop could look like.
  2. Maintained the total number of loading zones in each neighborhood and added new loading zones in Westlake and Fremont to support commercial loading for businesses and customers.
  3. Confirmed plans to launch a Freight and Bus Lane pilot project on Westlake Ave N. This pilot will allow freight trucks over 26,000 lbs (13 tons) to use select bus lanes and will be in effect 24/7.
  4. Completed a traffic analysis during the early planning and design phase. Full details and results are available in this summary report. Additionally, committed to business and property owners to monitor and observe traffic patterns after project completion.
  5. Provided information on the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process. The project received a Determination of Non-Significance in Spring 2023. This determination confirmed that the project will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. 

To learn about what was shared with us this past spring and summer from the general public, please check out the Summer 2023 Outreach Summary in our project materials library. We would also like to share our Business and Property Owner Feedback Summary that includes more detailed feedback that was shared by businesses, property owners, and neighborhood groups throughout the design phase of the project. 

New watermain upgrades on Fremont Ave N

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is currently planning to replace a 100-year-old waterline under Fremont Ave between 34th & 35th St. When we conduct extensive reconstruction of street pavement panels, we often coordinate with SPU to determine if replacing old utilities infrastructure is needed, to avoid digging up a newly constructed concrete street in the future. This reduces impacts to the community by completing major construction activities at the same time. It also helps reduce travel impacts, minimize construction costs, and shorten construction timelines compared to if the projects were completed separately.

Next Steps:   

In the coming months, we will select a contractor and begin reaching out to neighbors to share details about construction.
 We are committed to keeping you informed and maintaining open communication throughout the remainder of this project. If you would like to learn more about project and construction updates and  you can subscribe to receive our project emails.  

Partnering with King County Metro, we plan to make improvements to this vital transit corridor. 

The objectives of the project are to reduce transit travel times, improve transit reliability, and increase safety and transit access along the Route 40 corridor. We have a goal of reducing peak transit travel times by 5% to 10% and making the time between buses more consistent so trips take about the same amount of time, no matter the time of day.

Improvements made as part of this Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor project will include: 

  • Dedicated bus lanes: Bus-only lanes that separate buses from traffic and improve transit travel times and reliability
  • Signal upgrades or optimization: Transit signal priority extends or activates green lights to reduce waiting times for buses at signals
  • Channelization changes or turn restrictions: Changes to lane markings, and restricting turns for other vehicles so that buses can move faster and avoid right-of-way conflicts, making all travelers safer
  • Safety improvements: Improvements to crossings and transit connections to help people get to bus stops more easily and safely
  • Sidewalk upgrades: Repaving sidewalks and upgrading curb ramps to become ADA-accessible in key locations 
  • New northbound bike lane connection on Fremont Ave N and Neighborhood Greenway connection near 20th Ave NW and Leary Way NW 

Route 40 corridor improvements were first identified as part of the Levy to Move Seattle and King County Metro's METRO CONNECTS program. Based on results of the 2018 Levy Workplan Report, Route 40 will not be transitioned to RapidRide during this project. However, improvements will be designed to align with potential future RapidRide expansion.

Route 40 Background

Running north to south, Route 40 is 13.5 miles long and passes through the neighborhoods of Northgate, Crown Hill, Loyal Heights, Ballard, Fremont, South Lake Union, Downtown Seattle, and Pioneer Square.

Before COVID, Route 40 was one of Metro's highest ridership routes, serving over 13,000 weekday riders — the third highest ridership route in the system behind the D and E Lines. During COVID pandemic, it remains one of Metro's top highest ridership routes, serving an average of over 7,000 customers each weekday.

Route 40 buses are scheduled to arrive every 5 to 10 minutes during peak periods and stops are located approximately every quarter mile throughout the route. However, buses on this route are often slow and unreliable, impacting thousands of people who rely on transit. This project will identify and implement improvements that provide faster and more reliable transit service for Route 40 and other bus routes that share the corridor.

Key Transit Connections

Route 40 connects with some of the highest ridership routes in our system, such as the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, as well as Route 44. Additionally, Route 40 ends at the Northgate Transit Center, where many regional transit routes come together. Route 40 connects to the Northgate Link light rail station, completed in October 2021, and will connect to the Ballard station to be completed in 2037-39.

Project Map

Route 40 Updated Map

Route 40 improvements include: 

  • 3 miles of Businesses Access and Transit only lanes or Freight and Bus only lanes
  • 47 upgraded curb ramps
  • 8 new bus bulbs
  • 6,000+ feet of upgraded sidewalks
  • 3 new or upgraded crosswalks 

Project Schedule

Schedule graphic at Pre-Construction

  1. Planning (2019-2021): We collected traffic data, reviewed plans, and gathered community experiences to define options.
  2. Design (2021-2023): We are collaborating with the community, working to secure regulatory approval (e.g., Environmental Assessment), and developing a more detailed final design.
  3. Construction (as soon as 2024): We will construct the project and keep the community informed on the latest construction updates, schedule, and expected impacts.
  4. Service launch (planned for 2025)

We split the design phase into four stages: early design, refined design, advanced design, and final design/preconstruction.  At each stage, we've solidified different aspects of what the project will look like, so we look for different types of input from the community at each point.

We are currently at the refined design stage.  At this stage, you will be able to review the larger design changes that have been determined and provide feedback on smaller changes. 

At the advanced design stage, we will know what the project will look like and will be collecting feedback only on minor changes. 

See more on the RapidRide Program update.

See more on the comprehensive assessment of the Levy to Move Seattle.

Community Outreach

Tabling outreach event June 2023 in Fremont.

Tabling outreach event June 2023 in Fremont. (Picture credit SDOT)

Since 2020, we’ve been working with project partners, community members, and neighborhood organizations to gather feedback to help shape the design of the street improvements for the Route 40 project. At key design milestones, we’ve conducted surveys, hosted briefings, and been in the community to gather feedback. Feedback from the survey respondents can be found here: 

Outreach at a Glance 

To see the full list of outreach activities completed during the planning and design phases, please view the Route 40 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor Outreach Activities Report

Graphic showing icons of different outreach options.

Other Projects Along This Route

SDOT and Metro are focusing many investments along Route 40. Our project team is in close coordination with the following projects: 

Project Materials


This project is being funded by the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle, approved by voters in 2015 to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city. Additional sources include federal grants, state grants, King County Metro funds, and Vehicle Licensing Fees from the Seattle Transit Benefit District.

Environmental Updates

SDOT has determined that the Route 40 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor Project will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. As a result, SDOT issued a Determination of Non-significance (DNS) on May 22, 2023. This decision was made after review of the adopted National Environmental Policy Act Documented Categorical Exclusion (DCE) Worksheet and technical reports.

Please see the DNS below for more information. 

SEPA Documents


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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

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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.