• Second Avenue Protected Bike
    Second Avenue Protected Bike
  • W Emerson Overpass Repair Project
    W Emerson Overpass Repair Project
  • Mercer Corridor Project construction progress October 23, 2014
    Mercer Corridor Project construction progress October 23, 2014
  • Signals and signs in the Queen Anne neighborhood
    Signals and signs in the Queen Anne neighborhood
  • New stairway @ Lakeside Ave S and S Jackson St.
    New stairway @ Lakeside Ave S and S Jackson St.
  • blog_sumsts

Mercer Corridor Project – Third Eastbound Lane on Mercer Street Opened November 16

The Mercer Corridor Project recently opened a third eastbound lane on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and 9th Avenue North.  Construction Crews have worked diligently to complete paving, lane striping, and signal adjustments in order to reach this important milestone. The new configuration provides three continual eastbound lanes on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and I-5, providing some relief for travel from Queen Anne and Seattle Center across Aurora Avenue North.

Crews also added two new turn lanes from westbound Mercer Street onto southbound 5th Avenue North and demolished the remaining portions of the bridge over Broad Street at Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North. Work continues on the sidewalk and bike path on the north side of Mercer Street, at the intersection of Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North, and along 5th Avenue North.  As a reminder, please pay attention to street signs as travelers adjust to new traffic patterns.

For up-to-minute construction updates join our project email list at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/mercercorridor.htm or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-419-5818.

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North



SDOT talks Winter WeatherPreparations with KING TV

Chris Luedke KING TV Cropped 11-21-14KING Crew2  11-21-14SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke shares with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, SDOT’s winter preparations plan explaining major streets are prioritized for snow response and the use of de-icing salt and plows are ready when called into action. Christopher tells Tracy, “It’s a coordinated regional effort with other city, county, and state agencies working together to keep people and traffic moving so they can get to where there going”.

We will plow major streets which are the streets that are most important for getting to major public institutions such as hospitals and schools; the streets that are most frequently used by police, fire trucks and buses; and streets leading to Seattle’s major employers. We do not plow non-arterial streets.

In Seattle, winter can bring heavy rain, high winds, ice and snow. We’re monitoring conditions.

  • Our staff follows weather reports 24 hours a day, all year long, with a direct line to the National Weather Service and live Doppler radar feeds.
  • We use a forecasting tool developed with the University of Washington called SNOWWATCH to learn how a storm will most likely affect different neighborhoods. This information helps determine where the crews will be needed first.
  • Our computerized sensors located on city bridges, and also ground surface sensors, provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures.
  • We use real-time, live-streaming cameras to see actual conditions on key streets. You can see the camera views on SDOT’s website, www.seattle.gov/travelers.

The City of Seattle takes a proactive approach, using best practices to respond to snow and ice:

  • SDOT crews use trucks fitted with plows and salt-spreaders to keep major streets clear.
  • When conditions allow, the crews pre-treat key streets and bridges with salt brine before the snow starts falling to help prevent ice from forming.
  • As the snow begins to fall, the crews continue to drive their routes, treating the roadway with salt brine or granular salt where needed. When approximately one inch of snow has accumulated, they begin plowing.
  • During a snow event, a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system tracks the locations of the trucks. The Winter Weather Response Map on SDOT’s website shows where the trucks are at the current time and also which streets the trucks have already serviced. During a major storm you will be able to see the map on our website at web6.seattle.gov/sdot/winterweathermap.We start preparing for winter in the summer, training staff, calibrating equipment and working with local agency partners.
  • When high winds or heavy rain are forecast, our crews are ready to remove fallen trees from the road, and to repair signs and signals.
  • Our supplies of granular salt and salt brine are ready to help keep ice from forming on main city streets and bridges.



Investigating Carbon Fiber Potential

The proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 at Northgate – linking the North Seattle College on the west with the bus and (future) light rail transit center on the east – has to be pretty high for vehicles on the freeway to pass underneath. That height (about 40 feet above 1st Avenue NE) makes for a looong approach ramp, over 1500 feet, most of it up in the air.

Traditionally these bridge types are steel, and that is what the design codes reference, but SDOT’s team is considering the possibility of using carbon fiber – the stuff that Boeing uses in the 787. Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel at less than a quarter of the weight which enables longer spans, smaller foundations, faster construction and less traffic disruption. Andy Bridge, Director of Research and Development for Janicki Industries, says other advantages include reduced visual impacts due to a thinner support structure, easily formed organic shapes, and lower maintenance costs.

The SDOT Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge team will be considering many factors – principally safety – in making design decisions, but is excited about the potential of new materials and methods.   This is just one way in which SDOT is seeking to take advantage of innovations in design to reduce costs and provide great service.

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Construction on the Hill: Businesses are Open!

Development in and around downtown Seattle is booming, especially in the designated Capitol Hill construction hub where a total of 24 projects are currently in construction. One particularly concentrated area is around 10th and 11th avenues, near E Union Street. That’s where three active construction projects have been going for about two years including Seattle City Light underground work and Seattle Department of Transportation street restoration work along 10th Avenue. The combined impacts have created a number of challenges for businesses in the area, especially since another big project will soon break ground on the same street.

So what do businesses do when surrounded by seemingly continuous construction? That’s a question the Access Seattle Construction Hub team is looking to successfully answer. The team meets regularly with contractors and project managers of all public and private projects to reduce cumulative impacts. They also meet with business owners and residents to identify problems and seek solutions through project coordination. But, it’s still challenging. Take Sweatbox Yoga for instance. Located at 1417 10th Avenue, the cranes they’re surrounded with are forcing business owners into something of a crane pose themselves–difficult for even the most advanced yoga enthusiasts to hold for an extended time, much less for 24 months or so.


On the plus side, a huge project at the corner of E Union and 10th Avenue just wrapped up (see green on the map). Of course, another big project is set to start mid-December at 1427 11th Avenue, building 136 residential units and a 128-car parking garage below. Again, the progress creating housing and jobs and other improvements also creates hurdles. SDOT’s Access Seattle Construction Hub team wants to hear what those hurdles are, at stakeholder meetings held every other Friday at 10 a.m. at the Comet Tavern. The more we know, the more we can strive to coordinate for improved access.

Construction in cities is a necessary occurrence, but dwindling patronage shouldn’t be. Though they promote relaxation of sorts, Sweatbox Yoga isn’t taking it lying down. Owners Frankie and Laura have launched a campaign to weather the Capitol Hill construction and stay strong well into the future. Their creative idea is The SweatBox Small and Mighty Campaign, offering reward packages for donations as well as other thanks for showing support. We applaud their innovative business plan, as we too look at ways to keep businesses thriving during unprecedented development.   Let’s keep working to get the word out—businesses are open!

Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit, Design Workshop and Open House, Nov. 20

trolley bus


Come to a workshop to help refine concepts for the Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit to improve transit service in the Madison Corridor.

When: Thursday, November 20, 5 – 7 PM

Where: Silver Cloud Hotel, 1100 Broadway (at Madison)

The workshop will be organized around interactive design stations focused on each neighborhood in the corridor – Downtown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill/Central Area. At each station, we’ll present community-developed design ideas that focus on key intersections or a potential station location within each area.

Each station will be staffed with engineers, planners, and urban designers to allow for an interactive conversation and sketching of design ideas to capture community ideas and feedback.

The goal of the workshop is to refine community-developed design ideas to serve as the foundation for developing corridor-wide bus rapid transit alternatives to be evaluated in the Madison Corridor BRT Study.

SDOT launched the Madison Corridor BRT Study earlier this year and the year-long study is expected to conclude next summer. The Study will develop a bus rapid transit concept for the corridor that has stakeholder, public and elected official support; is backed by a viable phasing and implementation plan; and positions the City for future funding opportunities to help design and build the project.

This Workshop and Open House is an important step in gaining insight into corridor issues and locations ripe for improvement.

How to get there:
Metro bus service provides direct connections to the Silver Cloud Hotel via Routes 2, 9, 43, 49, and 60 (Broadway and E Union St. stop) and Route 12 (Broadway and Madison stop).  For bicyclists, the protected bike lane on Broadway provides direct access to Silver Cloud, the closest bike racks are just west of the Madison and Boylston intersection, one block west of the Silver Cloud Hotel.

You can learn more about the project at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/madisonBRT.htm. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with Sara Walton at madisonbrt@seattle.gov or (206) 386-4645.



Quick action protects public and property

As you watch weather reports for the next predicted storm, know that the SDOT Urban Forestry team is looking out for you! Their quick thinking and decision making earlier this month is an example. During the November 6th wind storm that left so many people without power, another impact was waiting to happen: a massive Ash tree along the 1300 block of N 45th Street was swaying with such force that the sidewalk near its base began to crack.

Crews at the adjacent construction project called Urban Forestry for help. They knew who to call since the Urban Forestry team was regularly monitoring the site to ensure surrounding trees were protected during construction.


Large Ash trees in the 1300 block of N 45th Street at risk of collapse during November 6, 2014 windstorm

Certified Arborist and SDOT Tree Crew Supervisor Joe Markovich went out immediately to determine next steps. Seeing that the tree could not be saved he called in a contractor he knew could do quality work on short notice. While coordinating on site, Joe noticed that another tree was on the verge of failure, so he expanded the project to cover two tree removals and worked fast to update other agencies responding to the storm.


Crews work to remove the unstable trees before they collapse

The threat to public safety warranted a temporary full closure of N 45th Street between Interlaken and Stone Way N, but it wasn’t closed for long. Coordinating with tree removal contractor Kemp West, SDOT Street Maintenance, the Seattle Police Department and King County Metro the risk was abated and the road reopened in less than three hours. The effective communication and collaboration will surely be needed again, as this is the season for Seattle windstorms!

Innovative Maintenance Facility

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture  courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

The streetcars that will run on the First Hill Line will be maintained in a facility that was just awarded a LEED Gold Certificate for its many sustainable features. Some of the most notable elements are:

  • a green roof with a 7kW solar panel array
  • a bio-retention area and pervious concrete pavers to maximize stormwater collection and infiltration
  • abundant daylighting with operable windows and skylights to provide natural ventilation and cooling
  • high efficiency LED and fluorescent lighting with smart controls
  • radiant in-floor heating which utilizes a high efficiency hydronic heating boiler

Other energy systems for the facility include a heat recovery ventilator, a variable refrigerant flow system and heat reclaim from the electrical room.

These characteristics are all the more impressive when considering that the nature of the facility and its construction. More than 17% of the materials used in the construction (by cost) were recycled and more than 10% were sourced locally (within 500 miles). The lumber used was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure responsible forest management and while other materials and finishes were low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) certified.

In addition the facility will foster ongoing energy savings by maintenance staff. It includes an electric car charging station, bicycle storage and (energy efficient) showers.

This Gold LEEDS Certificate demonstrates the viability of adopting sustainable design for all types of buildings – and the commitment to innovation in the design and maintenance of Seattle’s Streetcar system.

LEED Certifications

Did you know that right-of-way street trees make city streets safer?

urban treesTrees and landscape in the roadside can have a positive effect on driver behavior and perception, resulting in better safety performance.[1]

A study of Texas urban roads showed a 46% decrease in crash rates across the 10 urban arterial and highway sites after landscape improvements were installed. After the improvements, the number of collisions with trees declined by 71%. Another study found that placing trees and planters in urban arterial roadsides reduced mid-block crashes by 5% to 20%.[2]

All types of roadside treatments—roadside landscaping, median landscaping, and sidewalk widening with tree planting—positively affected vehicle safety outcomes. A marked decrease in the number of pedestrian fatalities was also noted—from 18 to 2 after landscape improvements.[3]

Drivers seeing natural roadside views show lower levels of stress and frustration compared to those viewing all-built settings.[4]

Commuting can be one of the most pervasive stressful experiences of urban life. Stress indicators—such as increased blood pressure—are associated with longer or more difficult commutes. Other affects have also been associated with commuting—lowered job satisfaction, higher illness and absenteeism rates, and lower performance on various cognitive tasks. Incorporating vegetation in roadside landscaping is one way to ease driving stress.

Multiple studies confirm the restorative effects of simply viewing nature in urban settings. [5],[6]

Drivers viewing natural roadsides exhibit lower levels of stress and frustration compared to those viewing built settings. In one lab study, drivers were presented with a stress-causing stimulus and their reactions measured in the course of recovery. Study participants seeing more natural roadside scenes returned to normal baseline measures faster. An “immunization effect” was also detected—the initial exposure to a natural roadside setting decreased the magnitude of stress response to subsequent stressful tasks. Parkway design and roadside vegetation appear to have restorative effects in reducing frustration.

Support for this summary was provided by the national Urban and Community Forestry program of the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry. Green Cities: Good Health summary prepared by Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D., June 29, 2010.

[1] Mok, J.-H., H.C. Landphair, and J.R. Naderi. 2006. Landscape Improvement Impacts on Roadside Safety in Texas. Landscape and Urban Planning 78:263-274

[2] Naderi, J.R. 2003. Landscape Design in the Clear Zone: Effect of Landscape Variables on Pedestrian Health and Driver Safety. Transportation Research Record 1851:119-130.

[3] Mok, J.-H., H.C. Landphair, and J.R. Naderi. 2003. Comparison of Safety Performance of Urban Streets Before and After Landscape Improvements. Proceedings of the 2nd Urban Street Symposium (Anaheim, California). Transportation Research Board, Washington DC.

[4] Wolf, K.L. 2003. Freeway Roadside Management: The Urban Forest Beyond the White Line. Journal of Arboriculture 29, 3:127-136.

[5] Ulrich, R.S., R.F. Simons, B.D. Losito, E. Fiorito, M.A. Miles, and M. Zelson. 1991. Stress Recovery During Exposure to Natural and Urban Environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology 1:201-230.

[6] Kaplan, S. 1995. The Restorative Benefits of Nature: Toward an Integrative Framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology 15:169-182

Once Around the Web: Watch This!

Unless your name is Weird Al, pop song parodies are seldom successful. Never mind pop song parodies by governmental agencies trying to impart important, if unexciting, information on little to no budget. That’s the basic recipe for a hot mess, right? That’s why this video from Akron Metro is so great – it’s surprisingly adept, funny, and informative! Check out All About That Bus (parody of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”)

For the super wonky among us, check out this video from David Levinson. David teaches Introduction to Transportation Engineering at the University of Minnesota and he’s got a whole YouTube channel full of videos about key topics from his class. Do you know the difference between an approach, a cycle and a phase when it comes to traffic lights? You will after you watch this video on Traffic Signal Terminology. Well, you’ll either learn something or you’ll cure your insomnia. It’s a win/win!

Seriously though, the videos provide a very detailed overview on transportation engineering and some of its complexities. They might even give you a new appreciation for what DongHo Chang, Seattle’s City Traffic Engineer, and the whole Traffic Management team here at SDOT are up against every day. Timing traffic signals, Traffic Analysis at Signalized Intersections, Solving For Impedance, and so much more await you!

Join the discussion to improve safety on Rainier Avenue South

RainierPostcard (1)Community meetings scheduled for Nov. 12 and Nov. 18

The Seattle Department of Transportation invites community members to attend one of two community meetings this month to help improve safety on Rainier Avenue South. At the meetings we will review existing conditions and traffic data, discuss potential engineering and enforcement strategies, and hear concerns from residents. SDOT Director Scott Kubly plans to attend both meetings; Mayor Ed Murray will kick-off the Nov. 18 meeting. Nov. 12

6 to 8 p.m.

The Columbia School Cafeteria/Commons

3528 South Ferdinand Street

Nov. 18

4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Ethiopian Community Center

8323 Rainier Avenue South

SDOT Director Scott Kubly explained, “We want to have a conversation with the community that uses Rainier Avenue South. Our goal is to improve safety for everyone—whether traveling by car, truck, bus, bike or on foot—while supporting the many businesses along this avenue.”

For more information, please see the webpage for the Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor Project at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainieraves.htm.