Evidence of concrete dedication.
🗣📢 WE LOVE OUR MAINTENANCE OPERATIONS CONCRETE TEAM! They are on the front lines every day, making our city better for everyone. Our four 11-person crews maintain our citywide infrastructure and their accessibility work is evident across Seattle. In the last couple of weeks, three of our crews were stationed in West Seattle knocking out Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps, after multiple West Seattle work orders came through the design process.
If you don’t know already – ADA curb ramps are a top priority for us. In fact, our goal is to install 300+ ramps every year (we’ve installed nearly 180 this year)! New public and private development projects will build out a significant number; but more than 5,000 will come directly from our hard-working, steel-toed-boots-wearing, SDOT concrete crews!
We’ve got solid teamwork.
Every ADA curb ramp must be designed to wed an existing site’s idiosyncrasies with required access parameters. When designs are complete, concrete crews can take action–the south, northeast, and southwest concrete crews joining forces since early June for ADA improvements at:
- SW Andover at 47th, 48th, and 49th avenues SW;
- SW Stevens St at 46th and 47th avenues SW;
- Harbor Ave SW and Fairmount Ave SW, along the Alki Trail.
We have such a diverse team. The wide range of backgrounds strengthens what we bring, especially since we all take pride in good work and making a positive difference. – Ken Ewalt, Maintenance Operations Concrete Manager
Ken came to the job last fall, after several years in Access Seattle construction coordination. He started with the City 20 years ago as an equipment operator and says he wants to help others build their careers and feel appreciated – because people do their best work when they’re happy!
Many Seattle sidewalks were built before the 1950s, meaning labor-intensive sidewalk removal is often required to meet current ADA standards. Our team coordinates with property owners to limit construction impacts.
At this SW Stevens St location, our concrete crew took careful steps to save decorative pavers, after asking the homeowner’s preferences. The team switched from heavy machinery to shovels and hands, to remove and stack the decorative bricks intact. The homeowner plans to reinstall them once the new curb ramp and sidewalk cures.
In another location along SW 49th Ave, concrete crews preserved landscaping by building a curb to shore up planting beds. Here, the new sidewalk had to be lower than the previous one, to meet ADA slope requirements. But as the photo shows, concrete crews successfully implemented a foliage-saving design. Now all that’s needed is rain to help grass seed grow up around the newly exposed sign pole base.
Just a ramp you say?
Curb ramp design and construction is not as simple as it might seem. It requires careful attention to lots of variables. ADA curb ramp building requires:
(After crews mark the locations of underground utilities.)
✔ Recreating whole sections of the sidewalk.
(After the site is excavated and cleared of debris.)
✔ Accurate measuring to install frames.
(To hold liquid concrete’s shape while it cures.)
✔ Pouring liquid concrete.
(Referred to as ‘mud’ by those in the know, that can expire, and the special truck’s spinning barrel thingy (aka drum) can’t stop it.)
✔ Precise timing.
(if the mix of cement powder, sand, gravel, water, and chemical agents is in the drum too long, says Crew Chief Mike Morasch, it can warm up and start the temperature-sensitive chemical reaction too soon, harming the usability of the material. Concrete also won’t harden correctly if the ground is wet, so teams must be ready to attach tarps and shift to non-weather dependent tasks when mother nature drops rain.)
✔ Grooming the mud.
(Referred to as ‘finishing work,’ this happens during and after the pour to ensure a smooth final surface.)
Our concrete crews bring a ton of experience, including ideas to save taxpayer dollars and improve safety. Get ready for some nerdy operations talk:😆
Before joining our team, Mike Morasch worked for years on the design and building of concrete mixing trucks. When he saw a truck unable to hold its drum capacity, he proposed a solution. Though the truck had an 11-yard mixing drum, it only had 2 axles, limiting it to an 8-yard load. Mike suggested adding two drop axles (lifting the truck to displace weight evenly) and bringing the number of brake shoes to 12. For big jobs, that extra capacity is useful, and the extra braking power is safer for everyone.
So, what makes a great curb-ramp-building-team?
Our AMAZING team who rock it every day to transform our City block-by-block. When you see them, don’t be shy – give them a shout (the good kind) or a 👊!
Have questions or want more information? Visit our online resource. You can also contact our ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 206.615.1974.
Seattle Accessible Route Planner – an online map and planning tool to aid pedestrians in navigating the city’s pedestrian right-of-way.