December 2019


Congratulations Community Transit! Swift Bus Rapid Transit Green Line Recognized for Engineering Excellence; Receives 2019 PSRC Vision 2040 Award and 2019 WTS Innovative Transportation Solutions Award

Snohomish County in Washington state is a fast-growing region with rapidly expanding economic hubs and urban centers. It is also rich in rural areas, farmlands and forests. With another million+ residents anticipated over the next two decades, managing growth while preserving natural resources and building for a sustainable future is a key concern for the region. These are just a few of the challenges Community Transit was faced with when they embarked on the Swift Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project nearly fifteen years ago. From the start, Otak has been a trusted partner supporting the teams at CT and helping them deliver on their ambitious promise to the region.

While BRT in general is well established system for providing mass transit solutions, Community Transit (CT) has been on the leading edge in rapid transit development and the Swift BRT system has proven to be an innovative solution successfully integrating transit networks across communities and effectively connecting the broader region. Yes, the CT Swift BRT transit project has a primary goal of alleviating traffic congestion, but the Swift BRT solution is multifaceted. It’s not just about drivers and getting cars off the road. It’s also about pedestrians, bikers, trains, and commercial vehicles; as well as the property owners, businesses, and overlapping jurisdictions that are all impacted by the new transit system. 

Holistic Approach to Design and Development

CT recognized these complexities and the need for a holistic multidisciplinary approach to designing a solution. From the very start, CT partnered with multiple agencies, utilities, commissioners and community leaders, as well as civil engineers, landscape architects, urban designers and more. Otak was brought in early on the design and development of the Swift Blue Line and then the Green Line. The Otak team, led by project manager Windi Shapley, has been an integral part of the project leading station design and providing construction support for the Swift line transit stations including design, manufacturing, and installation of station platforms and shelters, amenities, ticket vending machines, shelter railings, passenger information signing and iconic station markers. The team has also been instrumental in providing surveying, civil engineering, landscape architecture, planning, utility coordination, and construction support services and inspection throughout the project. Shapley asserts that “to be successful and deliver the best possible solutions, you have to take a holistic approach. You need the expertise and insights from multiple disciplines because the smallest things can have a big impact, and everything is interconnected – especially in a multi-community transit project like the Swift BRT network.” 

Project Recognized for Innovative Design and Positive Impact on Regional Sustainability

The Swift BRT Blue Line was opened in 2009 as the first phase of the project. It was also the first of its kind and set the standard for phase two and the Green Line which began operating in March of 2019. The Swift BRT Green Line is a 12-mile route running between the Seaway Transit Center and the Canyon Park & Ride, serving the communities of South Everett, Mill Creek and Bothell in Snohomish County. The Swift Green Line is notable for connecting  the new commercial flight terminal at Paine Field and Boeing’s Everett Factory to Bothell, as well as the Swift Blue Line and the larger community transit network. In short, the addition of the Swift Green Line is an integral component to the long-term plan of creating a network of fast, frequent connections across the region and providing critical infrastructure for sustainable growth into the future.

The holistic approach has paid as the Swift BRT lines are effectively providing much needed transportation solutions while adhering to the vision and policies around regional growth, transportation and economic development planning within King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. The results are undeniable, and the CT Swift Green Line project has been recognized for innovative design and positive impact on regional sustainability by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) and received a 2019 PSRC Vision 2040 Award

The Swift BRT Green line also won the 2019 WTS Innovative Transportation Solutions – Large Projects Award, not only for the innovative solutions, but also in recognition of the leadership by the all-woman team. The Swift Green Line project team has been led by Joy Munkers, Director of Planning and Development and June DeVoll, Manager of Strategic Planning and Grants of Community Transit. From planning through implementation, Joy and June have been supported by a project team which includes over 50 women. Women in lead roles include Grants/Funding - Melissa Cauley, Community Transit Grant Program Manager; OTHER CT; Project Management of Design, Permitting, and Construction Support - Windi Shapley, Otak; Traffic Engineering Lead - Katherine Casseday, Casseday Consulting; Right-of-Way Lead – Faith Roland, Contract Land Staff; Environmental Permitting Lead - Sharese Graham, Environmental Science Associates; 128th Street Improvements Design Lead – Yee-Fan Riu, WSP; and Geotechnical Lead - Debra Overbay, GeoEngineers.

Otak has also been nominated for an Engineering Excellence Award for the Swift Green Line BRT project. The Otak team has worked with CT for nearly fifteen years on the Swift BRT program and throughout, Windi Shapley has been the project manager. She attributes the project’s success in part to the consistent presence Otak has been able to provide as CT team members and project leads have changed over the years. “Fifteen years is a long time and staff changes are to be expected. We have been able to guide the project through these changes with the accumulated knowledge and expertise gained at all stages, and a steadfast commitment to the long-range vision, mission and purpose.” CT Manager, June DeVoll further asserts “Otak’s expertise, thoroughness, emphasis on team communication, and focus on quality and constructability has made them a trusted and invaluable member of our Swift Green Line team. They understand our mission, vision and expectations. The Otak team has proven they are invested in our success.”


The Swift BRT system will continue to expand with the development of the Orange line, which will connect the Blue and Green lines with city of Lynnwood, WA, and the new lite-rail line set to open in 2023. As with the Blue and Green lines, the development of the Orange Line will also include further roadway improvements and signal improvements to mitigate traffic congestion and potential interruptions to traffic flow – a top concern for commercial and delivery vehicles. The completion of the network will effectively connect the entire region with an attractive alternative to the automobile for fast, reliable and efficient commuting in an area that is committed to sustainable growth and protecting its natural resources.


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