Seattle Debuts Public Emergency Alert and Notification System, AlertSeattle

 

Seattle police officers, firefighters and emergency management staff will be out spreading the word about AlertSeattle, a new, real-time emergency alert and notification system. With AlertSeattle in place, Seattle now has a way to send out messages to the public with information on what to do when emergencies like earthquakes, explosions, flooding or other disasters happen. This system is free and available to anyone who lives, works, travels through or visits Seattle.

With AlertSeattle, individuals receive official communication directly from the City of Seattle and can customize what alerts they want to receive and how they want to be notified. Getting good information out quickly is critical during emergencies, and AlertSeattle is an excellent tool for people to stay informed.

In addition to emergency alerts, the public can also sign-up to receive community notifications about severe weather, safety, health, utility service disruptions, major traffic incidents, preparedness events and more.

To sign up go to: alert.seattle.gov and set up a user profile. All user information is private and will not be distributed in any manner. The service itself is provided by the City of Seattle at no cost; however, message and data rates may apply.

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Two Weeks + $100 = Pop-up Parklet in Pioneer Square

PARK(ing) Day is a little over a month away, and we want you to get involved!

PARK(ing) Day happens once a year and is an opportunity for Seattleites to temporarily turn on-street parking spaces into public places, called “parklets.” PARK(ing) Day is celebrated every third Friday in September in more than 162 cities (spanning 6 continents) around the world. This international event raises awareness about the importance of a walkable, livable, healthy city and helps people re-think how Seattle streets can be used.

Interested in joining the fun and creating your own parklet this year? Check out the Planning Your Park page to learn how. Applying for a pop-up park is easy and free, and anyone in Seattle can join in on the fun!

For those of you who need a little push, here’s some fodder to get your artistic juices flowing: On July 31, a group of high school students transformed a few Pioneer Square parking spaces into a parklet in just two short weeks! Intrigued? Read on!

The parklet's Buddha Boards in action. Photo: Seth Geiser, 2015.

The parklet’s Buddha Boards in action. Photo: Seth Geiser, 2015.

Student designers of the parklet were all part of the University of Washington’s Introduction to Landscape Architecture Course, a two-week intensive focusing on landscape design. The course was part of the university’s Summer Youth Programs. Students spent week 1 developing designs for potential parklets, and spent week 2 constructing the winning design.

The parklet itself was split into two parts – the northern half included a painting station where parklet patrons were reminded of the concept of impermanence. After paintbrushes were dipped in water and applied to the large Buddha Board, all designs slowly evaporated into the surface. A plaque on the parklet’s NW edge stated that the board allowed patrons to “witness the sobering truth that nothing in life lasts forever.”

Parklet patrons enjoying the shady seating. Photo: Seth Geiser, 2015.

Parklet patrons enjoying the shady seating. Photo: Seth Geiser, 2015.

The southern half of the parklet included a number of potted plants nestled between the eastern edge of the parklet and its long, expansive benches. The seating was in high demand for the duration of the parklet, which was up from 11 AM to 2 PM.

Made from recycled and donated materials like wood pallets, the only purchased parklet supply was cinder blocks used to boost the benches and tables made from salvaged wood. The end cost? $100.

As the parklet was taken down, cars began to re-associate themselves with 266 square feet of asphalt. As the transition occurred, the students, parents and parklet users saw just how quickly – and cheaply – a public space can be transformed.

A plaque located at the northern half of the July 31 parklet. Photo: Seth Geiser, 2015.

A plaque located at the northern half of the July 31 parklet. Photo: Seth Geiser, 2015.

Join us September 18 and create a bit park space of your own design! PARK[ing] Day Applications are available at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/Parkingdayapplication_Form.pdf and are due by August 28.

For specific questions, contact David Burgesser at david.burgesser@seattle.gov or 206-615-1028.

Be Smart. Plan Ahead. Designate A Driver Seafair Weekend.

City of Seattle encourages safe travel on land and water and hopes everyone gets safely to and from wherever the weekend takes them.  Here is a link to Seafair’s page on transportation options and parking for Seafair Weekend.

seafairweekend(2)(1)With this upcoming weekend’s Seafair Weekend events, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) would like to remind everyone to plan ahead before heading out to enjoy Seafair activities. That includes minding your speed, watching for out for other people, and designating a driver, behind the wheel of a car or boat, to keep our roads and waterways safe for all. The reminder is part of Vision Zero – Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and fatalities by 2030.

The city has seen an increase in total crashes, injuries and distracted-related collisions during Seafair weekend on roads near Seafair Weekend events.

Seafair is one of the busiest boating events of the season. Drinking and operating a boat is subject to the same DUI laws as operating a motor vehicle, and SPD’s Harbor Patrol actively enforces these laws. Extra enforcement patrols will also be on land, given the festivities extend from the water to public parks and streets.

The City of Seattle is committed to safe travel and to eliminating traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. Earlier this year, the City launched Vision Zero to design smarter streets, enforce existing laws, and educate the public on safe travel behavior.

Vizion Zero

Have a Safe and Fun Weekend! For more information on Vision Zero, visit www.seattle.gov/visionzero.

Downtown Parking Tips to help navigate Summer activities!

If you’re heading down to the Seattle Waterfront to escape the heat this weekend, there’s a lot happening! Let SDOT help you out get on your way with quick and convenient parking options, thanks to e-park. These real-time parking signs let drivers know how many open spaces are available in their designated parking garage, and are located from the Waterfront to Pioneer Square. These signs can save drivers time and stress that accumulates the longer you circle the city while looking for parking.

Waterfront

For more parking options, you can also visit our partner DowntownSeattleParking.com online or download their mobile application.

Waterfront Parking

Now that you’ve got your parking figured out, be aware of several events happening on the waterfront this weekend.

Seafair Fleet Week and Boeing Maritime Celebration began on Wednesday with the Parade of Ships and continues this weekend with ship tours on Piers 66, 69, and 90 on Saturday from 9:30am-3:30pm and on Sunday from 12:30pm-3:30pm.This is a way to celebrate and honor members of our military.

The Annual Waterfront Whimsea Family Fun Day at Waterfront Park this Sunday from 11:00am-3:00pm which features an  attempt to set the world record for high fives in four hours—you are invited to join in and high five as creatively as possible, like with foam fingers and animal paws!

Here’s a link to our SDOT Parking Map.

As you enjoy all the Waterfront has to offer, remember to drive carefully, stay cool, and have fun!

Traveling in Rainier Valley is About to Become Safer and Easier

Want to help make Rainier Valley a safer and more mobile place to live and work? Join SDOT at our open house on July 30 from 7-9 pm to learn about the projects improving the way people live and travel.

The meeting will be held at the Rainier Community Center on 4600 38th Avenue South. Interpreters in Cambodian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Somali, Amharic, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Oromo will be present, along with treats and child care.

At the open house, we’ll share updates on current projects and the results of intensive data collection and public input on how to make Rainier Avenue South operate more safely for all travelers. We will also facilitate questions and field answers and comments to reflect the priorities of the Rainier Valley community.

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Click to Enhance

With the help of the public’s feedback and use of data we are taking steps to achieve Seattle’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries. Working in Rainier Valley is one way we hope to improve the lives of all who value this neighborhood. Once completed, these projects will make it easier and safer for people to walk, bike, ride transit and drive in the area.

Key projects that we will discuss include:

Rainier Valley North-South Neighborhood Greenway

We’re excited to unveil the most promising route for this neighborhood greenway Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016. The greenway extends six miles from Rainier Beach to the I-90 trail through a series of streets with slower posted speed limits. This route provides additional connections to existing greenways and one under construction. It will also create a bicyclist and pedestrian friendly solution to community destinations such as parks, schools and stores. . Check out a map of the route and recommended safety improvements on our project page: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainiervalleygreenways2.htm

Accessible Mt. Baker

This project is currently studies ways to implement safety improvements for those using the Link light rail station and traveling through the Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Rainier Avenue South intersection. The project encompasses a long-term multimodal approach that is consistent with the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan. Some of the proposals under consideration include restoring historic boulevard connections, creating additional links to parks and recreational areas, as well as maintaining unique cultural and community elements. For more information: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/accessibleMtBaker.htm

Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor

Once this project is built, people who travel along this busy street will notice safety enhancements and increased traffic predictability. Using tools like retimed traffic signals and pedestrian enhancements will help us address current behavioral issues like people speeding, or driving distracted. The project limits extend along Rainier Ave S from Charlestown St to Seward Park Ave S with construction planned for this year. For more information: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainieraves.htm

An open house meeting for the Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor in February 2014

An open house meeting for the Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor in February 2014

We hope to see you there!

 

Get Ready for ‘Damp Season’ with a Rain Garden

This year’s dry summer may have all but erased your memories of Seattle’s rainy winter weather. However, now is the perfect time to start prepping your garden for fall and winter downpours with a rain garden!

Residential Rain Garden in Seattle. Photo: Ashley Blazina, 2015

Residential Rain Garden in Seattle. Photo: Ashley Blazina, 2015

If you’ve ever walked through a wooded park on a rainy day, you likely noticed that the rainfall is much lighter under the protection of the trees. Their branches and leaves catch and slow down the rainfall, which is an important step for the environment. The tree’s roots and the surrounding soil act like a filter for the rain as it slowly trickles into the ground.

As Seattle has grown, many trees have been replaced with paved surfaces like driveways, sidewalks and streets. When rain falls on the pavement, it rushes into storm drains instead of slowly soaking into the ground. Along the way, it picks up oils, sediments, lawn chemicals and other pollutants. This polluted runoff ends up in our neighborhood creeks, Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Elliott Bay. When our nearby lakes are polluted, they’re less habitable to salmon and unsafe for swimming.

Residential Rain Garden in Seattle. Photo: Ashley Blazina, 2015

Residential Rain Garden in Seattle. Photo: Ashley Blazina, 2015

There are ways that we can help bring nature back to the city, though – and one of them is planting a rain garden. Rain gardens are shallow, planted depressions that mimic a forest’s way of slowing down rainfall. They’re filled with soil and compost and planted with native plants. As rainfall percolates through the rain garden soil and plant roots, pollutants are filtered out – which helps keep our groundwater and lakes clean.

Sound too good to be true? That’s not all they do. Adding a rain garden can also attract birds and butterflies. When rain gardens are planted with native species like snowberry and Oregon grape, birds are drawn in. Flowering plants, like red-flowering current, are magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds.

If environmental benefit, butterflies and birds aren’t enough, your very own rain garden will also beautify the landscape. Not much time for yardwork? Rain gardens are still effective when they’re small, and the compact landscaping can greatly improve the curb appeal of your house.

Oh, and one more thing – rain gardens can also reduce the potential for basement or other household flooding, which may help increase your property’s value. With a more beautiful garden and a higher property value, it’s a true win-win situation!

Rain Garden Basics

Rain gardens can take time to develop, but if done correctly, they can provide great benefits for your yard, local wildlife and the environment. Below are three main focus areas to think about:

PLANNING

Planning a rain garden is the most important step. Make sure you give yourself enough time to plan a dynamic garden before you do any building. Plan for these aspects in particular:

    • Distance from your home: Rain gardens must be placed at least 10’ away from any building foundation. If placed too close, rain gardens may actually make your basement or crawl more likely to flood, rather than less.
    • Size of the garden: Determining how much water will be flowing from your roof, driveway and other hard surfaces into the garden will help you design a rain garden that can accommodate the right amount of water.
    • Drainage levels: Check your soil’s drainage capabilities by performing a soil test. Soils that feel sticky and can be molded have high clay content, and will need to be amended with a rain garden soil mix.
    • Landscape slope: Determine the slope of your rain garden location before you finalize any designs. Rain gardens located on slopes greater than 10 percent require a geotechnical engineer’s evaluation.
    • Local Requirements: Washington State Department of Ecology has minimum size requirements for new development projects, so check with your local municipalities before you finalize any designs.

INSTALLING

Even after you’ve solidified your design, you’ll likely have to do some troubleshooting:

    • Get the right equipment: Once you’re ready to build, make sure you have all of the tools you’ll need, including shovels, a water source to test the garden and plenty of string to lay out your rain garden footprint. Have a leveler on hand, as it can be easy to over- or underestimate your yard’s slope.
    • Build entry and exit points: Rain gardens need a specified location for water to enter and exit. These can be built with clean cobblestones that slope in and out of the rain garden. Your particular garden may also need a pipe to direct inflow – experiment with how water flows into the space before you dismiss the need for a pipe.
    • Call before: Hitting a septic tank or a local pipeline can be a costly mistake, so be sure to call your local utility companies before you do any digging.

PLANTING

Rain gardens are filled with native plants that are split into three zones, each with their own specified purpose and necessary growing conditions. Be sure you plant each zone with the most appropriate flora:

Typical three-zone rain garden. Photo: Washington State Department of Ecology, 2013

Typical three-zone rain garden. Photo: Washington State Department of Ecology, 2013

  • Zone 1 is for plants that thrive in wet conditions, such as Pacific willow, common rush and red-osier dogwood. These plants can soak up the highest amount of water, and provide the best support during ultra-wet storms.
  • Zone 2 is for plants than can withstand both dry and wet conditions, such as western serviceberry, Nootka rose and wild ginger. These plants will catch only some of the water as it flows into the lowest part of the garden.
  • Zone 3 is for drought-tolerant species of the Pacific Northwest. These include Garry oak, lavender and coastal strawberry. These plants can survive on very little water, and are able to maintain strong roots and stabilize conditions along the upper edges of your garden.

 

Seattle is home to more than 970 rain gardens, and the larger Puget Sound region includes more than 1,500. Several community groups are currently behind the push to get 12,000 rain gardens in Puget Sound by 2016. To see which of your neighbors have installed their own rain gardens, use this this map!

In line with residential efforts, the City is currently developing a green stormwater infrastructure network to keep pollution out of our lakes and streams and help create more inviting public spaces. Here are a few examples:

Swales in Fall 2014. Photo: KPG Interdisciplinary Design, 2015

Swales in Fall 2014. Photo: KPG Interdisciplinary Design, 2015

The Swale on Yale

As any local skateboarder will tell you, Capitol Hill has some of the steepest slopes in Seattle. Stormwater, unfortunately, feels the rush of these

descents as well! Up to 190 million gallons of runoff flow into Lake Union from the hill every year, and bring contaminants like silt, heavy metals and automobile oils along with it. To help reduce the annual runoff from surging into Lake Union, four biofiltration swales are being constructed along two blocks of Yale Ave N and Pontius Ave N. Each swale will be 270 feet long and between 10.5 – 16.5 feet wide.

Location of the swales and complementary infrastructure. Photo: Seattle Public Utilities, 2012.

Location of the swales and complementary infrastructure. Photo: Seattle Public Utilities, 2012.

How it works: Water from Capitol Hill is diverted into a large underground tank that sits under Yale Ave between Stewart and John streets. Water then flows into a swirl concentrator, where rain is separated from any large solids or trash that may have been swept up from the sidewalk. Trash is collected in a connected sump. After traveling through the swirl concentration, the water flows into the landscaped swales, which slow the stormwater, causing the sediments and pollutants to settle out of the rainwater before it finally reaches Lake Union.

The first phase of this project was completed in 2013, and swales will be complete by 2017 and 2018.

Ballard Natural Drainage System

Currently, the greater Ballard region of Seattle is home to approximately 1/3 of all combined sewer overflow problem areas in the city.

A finished rain garden in the Ballard Natural Drainage System. Photo: Seattle Public Utilities, 2015

A finished rain garden in the Ballard Natural Drainage System. Photo: Seattle Public Utilities, 2015

The Ballard Natural Drainage System, a project that has been in the works since 2012, will help keep 1 million gallons of raw sewage and runoff out of Portage and Salmon bays every year. Planning for the project was a challenge – most of Ballard’s soils absorb water very slowly, which can make rain gardens into semi-permanent pools. These pools can become breeding grounds for mosquitos and other pests.

A street map highlighting proposed natural drainage system projects in the Loyal Heights neighborhood. Photo: Seattle Public Utilities, 2015

A street map highlighting proposed natural drainage system projects in the Loyal Heights neighborhood. Photo: Seattle Public Utilities, 2015

Because of this, each rain garden site for this system was heavily tested for its drainage abilities before it was finalized. Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Transportation have drafted plans for rain garden planting strips along 17 blocks. When completed, approximately 95 percent of the previous untreated overflow that would dump into Salmon Bay will be captured in the rain gardens.

 

For more in-depth information on the development and creation of rain gardens, check out the Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington and the RainWise website.

New South Lake Union Streetcar Ticket Pay Stations!

The South Lake Union Streetcar has 9 new ticket pay stations! Buying a Streetcar ticket for a group or for all day use will become much easier with these new ticket vending machines “TVMs.” The TVMs have added functionality, allowing purchases of:

  • Streetcar-only day passes ($4.50 adult, $3.00 youth and $2.00 senior/Regional Reduced Fare Permit)
  • Multiple tickets (up to five tickets per transaction).
New Streetcar Ticket Pay Stations

New Streetcar Ticket Pay Stations

The TVMs accept coins (nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar coins), cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover) or a combination of coins and card.

The South Lake Union line of the Seattle Streetcar conveniently connects to Seattle’s other public transit systems. Link Light Rail and the Monorail are just across the street from the South Lake Union southern terminus station at Westlake and Olive.

You can transfer to buses at several points along the route. Bus service makes convenient, useful connections at selected streetcar stops including Route 8 (Seattle Center, Capitol Hill, Central District). There are also opportunities to connect to the local bike network along the line, including Pronto Cycle Share stations.2014-12-04 Streetcar Overview Map

For more information about how to ride the Streetcar, please visit: www.seattlestreetcar.org

How the S Hinds Street Stairway improves biking connections

Biking between Rainier Valley and Lake Washington is now a lot easier thanks to the new bicycle “runnel” built by SDOT crews at S. Hinds Street and York Road S. stairway. Stairway runnels create an easier way for bicyclists to push bikes up or down a staircase in a channel (like a concrete rain gutter) on the side of the staircase. This can save bicyclists injury from slinging their bike over their shoulder to climb stairs. The new stairway runnel (as seen on the left side of the photo) features a handrail for the runnel user, which also delineates the space for pedestrians.

S. Hinds Street stairway: before (left) and after (right)

S. Hinds Street stairway: before (left) and after (right)

These improvements are part of SDOT’s Stairway Maintenance and Repair Program. The S. Hinds Street stairway is one of more than 500 stairways owned and maintained by SDOT’s Roadway Structures Division. Learn more about SDOT’s stairways and upcoming repair projects by visiting http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/stairways.htm.

PARK(ing) Day 2015 applications are being accepted!

Imagine the following: mini golf in the streets of Pioneer Square, a library of banned books curbside in Ballard, and nearly 40 feet of space for playing cornhole on a downtown street. These installations—not to mention dozens of other spaces for art, public seating, and play—were all part of last year’s PARK(ing) Day, and we’re now accepting applications to create your own pop-up park for the 2015 event!

On the third Friday in September each year, Seattle raises awareness about the importance of creating a walkable, livable, and healthy city by participating in the international PARK(ing) Day event. During this event, artists, activists, and community members convert on-street parking spaces throughout Seattle into public, temporary mini-parks. For PARK(ing) Day 2015, fun and interactive parks will be installed and staffed by groups throughout the city on Friday, September 18.

Do you have work or school during the day? We want everyone to be able to participate in PARK(ing) Day this year, so we’ve extended the hours to 10 am – 7 pm to allow more people to see the pop-up parks in their neighborhood!

PARKing Days

Started in 2005 by San Francisco design firm Rebar, PARK(ing) Day has quickly become a widespread event globally. Community groups in over 160 cities in 35 countries have participated in the event’s efforts to encourage a sustainable urban environment. 2015 marks the ninth year Seattle has participated in PARK(ing) Day.

 

If you are interested in creating your own park for PARK(ing) Day, we encourage you to submit a free application to SDOT. Applicants can choose to install a park on an arterial street (two mid-block spaces required) or a residential street (one mid-block space required). The application (quick and easy to complete!) must be submitted to David.Burgesser@seattle.gov by August 28.

PARKing DaysFor more information about PARK(ing) Day in Seattle please visit www.Seattle.gov/transportation/seattleparkingday.htm where you can find the design guidelines, application, and photos from past PARK(ing) Days and more.

 

Keeping Pedestrians Safe in Ballard at NW 65th Street and 18th Avenue NW

Early in 2015 SDOT completed another innovative project to improve pedestrian safety near the Salmon Bay School at NW 65th Street and 18th Avenue NW in Ballard. This project is another effort to help us achieve our Vision Zero goal, to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. .

New Curb ramps and RRFB at NW 65th and 18 Ave NW near Salmon Bay Elementary

New Curb ramps and RRFB at NW 65th and 18 Ave NW near Salmon Bay Elementary

The work at this intersection involved new curb ramps, curb bulbs, sidewalks repairs, and finally solar-powered Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB), signals that help pedestrians cross streets safely. An on-street bicycle corral was also installed adjacent to the school.

65th St at 18 ave

This project improves pedestrian, vehicle, and road sign visibility, thereby increasing awareness of pedestrians, vehicles, and bicyclists to one another. The solar-powered RRFBs are a sustainable yet environmentally friendly alternative. This approach to provide power to the crossing beacons is helping ensure the longevity and reliability of the signals for years at a lower cost.

 

This intersection improvement was funded by Seattle’s Safe Routes to School program. To learn more about this and other Safe Routes to School projects, please click here.