This week, crews continued to focus on underground utility work on Valley Street and Broad Street.Activities this week included: [Read more…]
Archives for March 2013
The contractor is about to get Notice to Proceed on the Mercer West Phase of the Mercer Corridor Project, meaning construction to convert Mercer Street to two-way traffic from I-5 to Uptown is about to start. Atkinson Construction is tackling the mega effort that begins with improving the problematic portion of Mercer that goes under Aurora Avenue. The picture below shows what the area looks like now, with it’s 5-feet-wide sidewalk alongside one-way vehicle travel lanes. The rendering below that shows what 50 feet of extra space to the south can do.
To get there, construction must happen, and that involves impacts. Those impacts are small in April, so you have time to psyche up for the bigger impacts come May: reducing Mercer Street to two eastbound lanes between 5th Avenue N and Dexter Avenue N and reducing SR 99 to two lanes in each direction between Harrison Street and Valley Street.
The Mercer West Phase will widen Mercer Street to provide three lanes in each direction between Dexter Avenue N and Fifth Avenue N and converting the existing four eastbound lanes to two lanes in each direction between Fifth Avenue N and First Avenue N. The future Mercer Street will feature additional left-turn lanes, widened sidewalks, and a bicycle path between Dexter Avenue N and Fifth Avenue N. Additionally, Roy Street will also become a two-way street with bicycle lanes between Fifth Avenue N and Queen Anne Avenue N. Typical roadway cross-sections can be viewed here. Work is expected to be complete midway through 2015.
Early construction activities start with the aforementioned Mercer Street underpass, and of course include rebuilding the SR 99 bridge. Computer simulations exist for both the pedestrian/cyclist and motorist experience and viewing them may help distract you from the necessary complication of construction.
To help mitigate construction impacts, crews will begin making improvements in the area in late April including signal adjustments at the intersection of Fifth Avenue N and Harrison Street as well as signalizing the intersections of Dexter Avenue N and Republican Street and Broad and Harrison streets. Broad Street will also be re-opened to two-way traffic when impacts to Mercer Street begin to help ease eastbound congestion heading towards I-5.
It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it here anyway…come May, travelers can expect significant congestion and delays when eastbound Mercer Street is reduced to two lanes during construction. Be sure to plan ahead and use alternate routes when possible…for a long time.
Construction work on the South Park Bridge site has shifted a little. As King County DOT explains, “crews are demolishing the old bascule pier, working until 7 pm each night in order to meet the project schedule.”
Formwork is being installed on the new piers by both day and night crews, as the old bascule pier comes down. Since this is relatively quiet work, crews will be up working until about 1 a.m. and you can expect to see this kind of work for about five more weeks.
Check out the bridge construction in progress with the South Park Bridge Cameras: http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/SouthParkBridge/BridgeCameras.aspx
For more information about the South Park Bridge Replacement Project, visit King County Department of Transportation’s website at http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/SouthParkBridge.aspx
In 2006, Seattle voters passed a nine-year, $365 million, transportation levy for maintenance and improvements known as Bridging the Gap (BTG). The levy is complemented by a commercial parking tax. The BTG levy funds maintenance programs for paving; new sidewalk development and repairs; repair, rehabilitation and seismic upgrades to Seattle’s bridges; tree pruning and planting; transit enhancements; and other much needed maintenance work. Funding also supports projects that develop and implement the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Transit Master Plans, support development of the Safe Routes to School Program and help neighborhoods get larger projects built through the Neighborhood Street Fund large project program.
The BTG levy as approved by voters stipulated that certain percentages of the levy revenues be spent on different categories of projects over the nine year program:
- Neighborhood Street Fund – first $1.5 million annually
- Maintenance Programs – no less than 67%
- Pedestrian/Bike/Safety Programs – no less than 18%
- Transit & Major Projects – no more than 15%
Back in 2007, as BTG got underway, some pretty ambitious goals were set. Some of the goals included: prune 25,000 street trees; repave 200 lane-miles of arterial streets; rehabilitate or replace 3-5 bridges and seismically retrofit 5 additional bridges; build 117 blocks of new sidewalks; restripe 5,000 crosswalks; create “safe routes to schools” near 30 elementary schools; repair 144 blocks of sidewalks; enhance transit and safety improvements on three key transit corridors; and, secure up to 44,000 hours of new Metro Transit service. SDOT is well on its way to delivering and meeting these goals and expects to exceed many of them.
BTG has been a critical funding piece for the department and SDOT takes great pride in not only meeting the goals of the levy, but also working closely with the BTG Levy Oversight Committee to keep them updated on the progress of the levy. When issues arise, the committee’s guidance is sought to determine if changes need to be made. The committee meets quarterly and their next meeting is April 23, 6-8 p.m., in the Boards and Commissions Room at City Hall. Their meetings are open to the public and they provide time at the beginning of each meeting for public comment.
If you would like additional information on BTG please visit the webpage.
You have got to check out this funny and informative pothole video from Worcestershire County Council, U.K.
Remember you can report your Seattle potholes online or by calling our always popular
POTHOLE AND STREET REPAIR HOTLINE:
And don’t forget about our fancy Pothole Status Map that can show you where and when we’ve been working in your neighborhood.
Now if only someone around here could sing…
Activities this week include: [Read more…]
The Jumbo Fairpartner set sail on March 19 out of Osaka, Japan, carrying Bertha, the massive five-story-tall machine that will dig the SR 99 tunnel underneath downtown Seattle. The voyage is about 5,000 miles and will take approximately two weeks to cross the Pacific Ocean. The 475-foot vessel carrying Bertha is expected to arrive at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 46 around April 1 – no joke and weather permitting.
Bertha is so large it had to be taken apart into 41 pieces to be loaded onto the Fairpartner – the heaviest piece weighs about 900 tons! She was built in Japan by the firm Hitachi Zosen Corporation and is owned by Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) contractor for the project.
Do you want to watch history being made? WSDOT will have a live webcam pointed at Bertha’s landing spot, and has posted a map of locations where you can view the machine’s arrival and unloading on a new Web page devoted to tracking Bertha’s journey (check out the “Viewer’s guide to Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine”). However, the most frequent updates will come via a Twitter account (@BerthaDigsSR99) WSDOT launched on Bertha’s behalf in December.
So what will happen when Bertha arrives? Crews will be ready to offload the parts and transport them to storage areas throughout the work zone. Then, in late April, after the launch pit has been completed, the pieces will be lowered into the pit, where the reassembly and testing will begin. This process will take approximately two months.
Bertha is scheduled to start digging the tunnel this summer.
- Charting Bertha’s course to Seattle handout (pdf 234 kb)
- Check out this short video (or view on Youtube) to see the inner workings of a tunnel boring machine.
- Go to Milepost 31 in Pioneer Square to see a motorized, 10-foot-long model of Bertha.
- WSDOT’s Flickr site has photos of crews building the machine in Japan and crews in Seattle preparing for the machine’s arrival.
We received requests to show hourly data from the Fremont Bridge Bike Counter correlated with dates and weather conditions. Sometimes a graph can tell the story much better than a column of figures, and now, courtesy of Tableau Software, we’ve got color charts with this information on our website.
The first Tableau charts on the web page (see the screenshot, above) correlate the bike counts by dates. On the website the charts are interactive—you can choose the month and week (date range), or select one or more days of the week, and the graph will change to show your selection. You can see at a glance how sharply ridership increases during the peak commute periods, and how different the curve is for weekends—fewer bike trips and a single, midday peak.
At the top of the Tableau charts you will see a tab for the weather graphs. Click on the tab to see the charts that show how bike counts correlate with sun, rain, air temperature and several other variables. (See the screenshot below.) The weather data comes from the University of Washington. In addition to the weather conditions, you can also select the day of the week, the week, and the month. There is a line graph and a scatter diagram, which includes a trend line.
Whether you want to know more about ridership or you just enjoy playing with graphs and numbers, jump in and explore the website. The charts will continue to capture data from the Fremont counter that was installed in October, so it will be interesting to see the curves once we have a full 12 months of data.
Just last week, SDOT released a Final EIS, reaching a major milestone for this project. As you may remember, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) compliant with the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) was issued in November 2012 for public comment. The Final EIS provides detailed information on the project purpose and need, seawall replacement preferred alternative, and the potential effects both during and after construction and is now available on our website.
Issuing the Final EIS completes the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process for the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. The Final EIS includes the City’s responses to comments received, updates prepared as a result of the Draft EIS comments, a revised cultural resources assessment, and a Discipline Report Errata section, in addition to the analysis and information from the Draft EIS.
The Final EIS evaluated three “build alternatives” to replace the seawall as well as “No Build” alternatives. The build alternatives provide a range of options for meeting the project’s purpose and need, with variations on the location of the face of the seawall, the structural solution, and the aquatic habitat features and public amenities included as part of the project. The identified preferred alternative (“Alternative C”) combines the most beneficial features of ease of construction, while maximizing habitat restoration and upland improvements as a cost-effective alternative minimizing environmental impacts.
If you would like to request a copy of the document, please see our project website for more details.
The project’s design team continues to progress toward final design on Alternative C. This alternative will:
- Pull the face of seawall inland 10-15 feet.
- Provide soil stabilization.
- Provide habitat enhancements.
- Restored roadway, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Final design and permitting are expected to be completed by late summer 2013.
March Madness is a time for brackets, rivalries, and Cinderella stories. But why limit it to just basketball? Take for example the brilliant 2013 Urbanist Toolkit Bracket from Atlantic Cities. What makes up a great city and who are you rooting for — BRT or Streetcars? Food Trucks or Pop-up Parks? Parking Maximums or Congestion Pricing? Click here to go vote in the sweet sixteen.
Want something even wonkier? Try this classic Traffic Simulation Game. Seems simple at first but change up those variables and see what happens!
For the climate change obsessed child in your life, there’s Meltdown, the first board game that melts. Grist sums it up best: It’s like Monopoly, except the world is ending. The game’s aim is to move the polar bear family from the permanent ice floes to safety on the mainland before it all melts. Cute and sad has a certain niche appeal and the game’s cooperative play is family friendly too.
Lastly, we have Cart Life a retail simulation video game where you can try your hand at different characters operating different street-side businesses. Do you get a permit or risk the fine? (SDOT Hint: Get the permit!) How do you best keep your customers happy? Most of us will never live the life of a street vendor but thanks to Cart Life, we can make believe, and maybe gain a new appreciation for those who do rise to the challenge every day.