Fall has Arrived and Winter is Just Around the Corner, Let’s All be Prepared

Fall has arrived and the sunny days are getting shorter as Winter is just around the corner. This is a great time to prepare by making sure that you have alternate commute plans in place such as which buses will operate during weather events, and if you have your snow kit in your vehicle if
measurable snow falls.

The National Weather Service has predicted an El Nino winter lasting through Spring, and UW Professor Cliff Mass recently blogged about it here. Though a warmer and drier winter is predicted, preparing for the unexpected is always a good plan.

snow cars (rs)

Here’s a Vehicle preparedness Checklist:

  • Warm clothes in trunk
  • Chains or other traction devices in trunk
  • Full gas tank
  • Sand/shovel in trunk
  • Window ice scraper
  • Flares, flashlight in trunk
  • Antifreeze
  • Family emergency plan
  • Familiarity with school and daycare plans
  • Alternative shelter plans
  • Alternative transportation arrangements
  • Identified snow routes
  • Bus timetables


SDOT works closely with King County Metro Transit, the Seattle School District, local universities, hospitals, and major employers to ensure our snow-fighting work maintains mobility for people and goods, and access to the region. The snow route map shows where we will focus our snow-fighting efforts. Those streets will be treated with de-icer and plowed when the storm hits. Now is a good time to plan routes to get to work, the grocery store, child care and medical appointments.

Winter Storms – Here’s Our Plan

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.


When Storms are Headed Our Way – We’re Preparing

We will plow major streets. These 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.

  • 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.

snow plows

Update: Public Input Period Extended through October 15th on Potential Changes to Ship Canal Bridges’ Opening Restrictions  

SDOT is extending the public input period through October 15th on potential changes to the Ship Canal Bridges and opening restrictions related to them. 

SDOT is seeking comment from the maritime community, and community members who drive, walk or bike, whether the City should seek US Coast Guard approval to change current rules on when Ship Canal bridges must be opened upon request. In addition, SDOT is interested in hearing what additional restrictions might be warranted, if any.

SDOT has received a high volume of public feedback and wants to extend the opportunity. Please visit this link to share your input: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/shipcanalOpenings.htm.

open bridge

The City owns and operates the Ballard, Fremont, and University bridges, while the Washington State Department of Transportation owns and operates the Montlake Bridge. As the Ship Canal is defined by federal law as a navigable waterway, the US Coast Guard has regulatory authority over these bridges. A number of years ago the Coast Guard granted the City the authority to keep the bridges closed on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (The bridges must still be opened during these hours for large commercial vessels.)

SDOT Blog _Bridge 0pening RESIZED

While the number of bridge openings has remained fairly constant in recent years, the impacts of bridge openings have become more pronounced and problematic, especially with longer morning and afternoon commute periods.

With the average bridge opening lasting approximately five minutes, hundreds of vehicles can back up for a given rush hour opening. The more cars, trucks and buses that back up, the longer it takes for them to clear. Buses run behind schedule, commuters find that it takes longer to get to work or back home, and many delayed drivers leave their motors running, spewing polluting emissions into the atmosphere.

SDOT expects to petition the Coast Guard for a change in restrictions on when these bridges must be opened upon demand but is seeking public input before doing so. Interested citizens are asked to share their thoughts with SDOT about whether expanded restrictions are warranted, and what they might look like.

As the graph below illustrates for the Ballard Bridge from August 20th to 26th, 2014, the number of bridge openings is greatest at the same time vehicular traffic is heaviest. For example, during the period from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., there were 11 weekday bridge openings that week, or an average of two each day, and approximately 61 percent of Ballard Bridge openings that month were for sailboats.

During that same one hour period each day, some 2,600 vehicles crossed the bridge. This situation leads to backups that often extend as far south as Dravus Street and as far north as NW 65th Street. These delays take considerable time to clear, sometimes occurring just as the next opening is requested.

An illustrative graph for a one week period last August at the Ballard Bridge. The number of bridge openings is heaviest at the same time the vehicular traffic load is at its highest. For example, during the period from 6 to 7 PM, there were 11 weekday bridge openings that week, or an average of two each day. During that same one hour period about 2,600 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

An illustrative graph for a one week period last August at the Ballard Bridge. The number of bridge openings is heaviest at the same time the vehicular traffic load is at its highest. For example, during the period from 6 to 7 PM, there were 11 weekday bridge openings that week, or an average of two each day. During that same one hour period about 2,600 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.




How to Submit a Request to SDOT? Your Help Keeps Seattle Moving!

Maintaining a first-rate transportation system in our city requires community involvement. We appreciate the communities’ time and efforts when community members contact the city with information that helps SDOT keep Seattle moving. If you have a transportation-related concern or request, here are ways you can connect with us to let us know.

Seattle 9-15

What are road related things I can report to SDOT?

Using this form, you can report the following to SDOT online:

  • Pothole locations
  • Street sign and traffic signal maintenance (damaged and malfunctioning)
  • Damaged sidewalks
  • Overgrown vegetation in SDOT-maintained public right-of-ways
  • Sidewalk or street obstructions


For a catch-all reporting system, we check out our mobile phone app Find It, Fix It for reporting when you’re on the go. Find It, Fix It also allows one to report certain concerns like graffiti or parking enforcement issues to the Seattle Police Department, or reach other city departments such as Seattle Public Utilities.

What can I request from SDOT?

In addition to reporting, you can also request various services from SDOT, including:  

  • ADA technologies
  • Safe Routes to School improvements
  • Traffic calming evaluations

To request any of these or for general inquiries, please visit our Customer Request page here.

Not sure where to report?

If you aren’t sure where to file a report or request, we are also available via phone or email.

You can call SDOT at (206) 684-ROAD (7623) or send an email to 684-Road@seattle.gov.

For additional SDOT contact information, please visit our directory here.

Thank you for helping keep Seattle safe and accessible for everyone!

Noticed these around town? A guide to street colors

SDOT strives to make the roads safe for all travelers. To achieve this goal, SDOT is using roadway markings such as painted identifiers to encourage safer and more predictable travel.

These colorful street markings are meant to draw attention and promote visibility for all who use the roads, regardless of mode of transportation.

Roadway colors you may come across around the city:

Red bus lanes


These visible red “bus only” lanes are meant to provide additional cues to alert drivers that these are meant specifically for ‘transit use only’ and improve driver compliance for these bus lane restrictions. The goal of these lanes is to help make transit flow more smoothly, to help those who take transit get to where they’re going.

Green and white bike facilities

Green1 Green2

Green bike lanes and bike boxes designate a space where bicyclists can travel with general traffic in a more predictable, visible, and safer manner. The green pavement also indicates spaces in which bicycles and other traffic may cross paths. It alerts drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to be extra aware of each other. To learn more about bike facilities, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikefacilities.htm

Multicolored crosswalks


Multicolored crosswalks, like the rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill, are previously marked crosswalks that have been painted with unique colors and are meant to highlight a community’s culture and history or liven up an intersection crosswalk with a colorful design. This is a great way for our neighborhood communities to celebrate themselves in a creative and visual manner. For more about current crosswalks and how to request one, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/community-crosswalks

Beige curb bulbs


Beige painted curb bulbs are meant to extend an existing curb and shorten the crossing distance in an intersection. The light color helps increase pedestrian visibility in locations including busy streets near schools where kids are traveling to and from.

For more information other ways we are making the roads safer for everyone, please visit our Vision Zero homepage at http://www.seattle.gov/visionzero. Please travel safely and be aware of others!

Happy Blue Friday, Today is PARK(ing) Day!!

Ready to play a game of mini-golf in the street? What about making Swedish flower crowns? It’s all happening today for PARK(ing) Day!

Seattle businesses and community groups will be installing over 50 temporary pop-up parks in on-street parking spaces today between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. These parks will feature all types of games and activities and are part of an international event that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of walkable, livable, and healthy cities.

PARKing Day is Here!!

PARKing Day is Here!!

Check out the map of pop-up parks on our website to plan your park visits! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter throughout the day (@seattledot and @parkingdaySEA) and use #SEAParkingDay for your own photos!

Pop-up Parks Coming to a Street near You this Friday 9/18!

Friday, September 18, is the annual PARK(ing) Day event, and local businesses and community groups will be installing temporary pop-up parks in neighborhoods throughout Seattle.

PARK(ing) Day!

PARK(ing) Day happens once a year, on the third Friday in September, and is an opportunity for any Seattleite to temporarily turn on-street parking spaces into public space. Seattle’s PARK(ing) Day is part of an international event that raises awareness about the importance of creating a walkable, livable, and healthy city and helps people re-think how streets can be used.

Because we know you probably have to go to work or school on Friday, we’ve extended the hours of this year’s event to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that everyone will be able to check out the creative ways their friends and neighbors are transforming their streets. There will be art installations, games, pop-up protected bike lanes, an outer space-themed lemonade stand, and just about anything else you can imagine!

Check out the new map of all the parks on our website and start planning your park-hopping now. We’ll be live-tweeting the event, so be sure to follow @seattledot and @parkingdaySEA on Friday and use #SEAParkingDay for your own photos!

Construction is coming to Greenwood – Community Open House Tonight!



Join Us
We are excited to share the latest news about the Greenwood Ave N Transit and Sidewalk Project at our September 14 open house event. We will provide a project updates, review what to expect during construction, and answer questions from the community.

Construction begins in early October
Construction is set to begin in early October and continue through April 2016, weather permitting.
The project includes transit and sidewalk improvements on Greenwood Ave N between N 90th St and N 105th St.


Project goals
• Improve safety for people who walk, drive, and bike
• Create a more visually appealing corridor
• Improve sidewalk access and crosswalks at intersections
• Improve safety and comfort for transit riders
• Increase predictable travel patterns for all road users

Construction impacts
• During construction, the community can expect:
• Parking restrictions
• Bicyclists merge with vehicles
• Limited use of center turn lane
• Minor detours for people who walk along Greenwood Ave N
• Limited access to adjacent properties (including driveway closures) with advanced notification
• Restricted access to/from side streets

Project details

Map of plans: click to enhance

Map of plans: click to enhance

The project includes new sidewalks, planting strips, curbs, and crosswalk markings. The project will also upgrade bus stops, closing some stops and relocating others to improve bus stop spacing through the corridor. Four new “bus islands” will keep buses in the travel lane and reduce conflicts between buses, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians. The bus islands will feature shelters, pedestrian lighting and bike racks.
This work is funded by the Bridging the Gap Levy, a Neighborhood Street Fund Grant, and a State Transportation Improvement Board Grant. The total estimated cost for this project is $3.5 million.
To learn more, visit the project webpage and sign up for email updates. We look forward to the open house tonight and hope to see you there!

New Community Crosswalk Program, Celebrate Your Neighborhood!

The city is announcing the Community Crosswalks program, a new way for community members to acquire neighborhood oriented crosswalks.

SDOT and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods are jointly working on this program to allow interested community members to showcase their neighborhood’s unique culture and history or just liven up an intersection crosswalk with a colorful design. This is a great way for the city to celebrate our neighborhood communities in a creative and visual manner.

This is about celebrating and enhancing community identities,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “The iconic rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill started a broader conversation on how we can incorporate neighborhood character in the built environment across Seattle. I’m excited to see more history, culture, and community on display for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Spurred by the popularity of Capitol Hill’s rainbow crosswalks, which were installed in June, residents can now use the existing Neighborhood Matching Fund to request such crosswalks. This will allow unique crosswalks to be approved and installed through an established process, ensuring that they are safe, reflective of community values and can be maintained.

Capitol Hill Rainbow Crosswalk

Capitol Hill Rainbow Crosswalks

To be eligible for an installation by SDOT, applicants will need to adhere to City guidelines for crosswalk locations and designs. Crosswalks must be sited where vehicles already stop for a traffic signal or stop sign, the design should consist only of horizontal or vertical bars, and the pavement underneath must be in good condition.

“We are pleased that other Seattle neighborhoods are being inspired by Capitol Hill’s rainbow crosswalks,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “Through this joint SDOT/DON effort, we can transform other crossing points into tangible signs of community pride.”

Crosswalks typically cost about $25 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the design and installation, and can be expected to last approximately 3-5 years based on the amount of vehicular traffic at the location. More information about the program can be found here:  http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/community-crosswalks. Crosswalks installed or modified outside of this process will be reviewed by SDOT and removed/repainted if determined to be unsafe.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund provides matching dollars for neighborhood improvement, organizing, or projects that are developed and implemented by community members. More information about the longstanding program can be found here:  http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/neighborhood-matching-fund.

SDOT and AARP Seattle Partner to Achieve Vision Zero

SDOT and AARP Seattle are launching a new public service campaign that highlights safety tips for people driving and walking. The campaign is part of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.


Video, online, and radio announcements will run throughout September on KOMO 4 TV, Univision Seattle, KOMO News Radio, KVI Talk Radio and KOMOnews.com. The campaign’s timing coincides with the historic trend of collisions increasing during the darker and wetter months of fall and winter.

Seattle is aggressively working to reduce serious and fatal collisions on our streets through Vision Zero. Partnering with AARP on this campaign allows the city to reach drivers and our most vulnerable residents to enhance the safety of our roads.

While Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country, more than 10,000 traffic collisions occur each year. In 2014, there were 3,449 injury collisions reported to the Seattle Police Department. 15 people died due to those crashes in 2014, including five who were walking or riding a bike.

Education is a key component to help keep our most vulnerable populations (people young and old, walking and biking) safe and achieve Vision Zero in Seattle – a term that comes from the belief that death and injury on city streets are preventable. This is the second year that SDOT and AARP have teamed up on traffic safety. The public service announcements are being made possible with a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and funding from AARP.

People over age 50 are particularly vulnerable on Seattle’s streets, representing 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the last three years. As a partner in Vision Zero, AARP Seattle is working with the City to help raise safety awareness and prevent collisions.

The City of Seattle is committed to ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Earlier this year, Seattle launched Vision Zero to design smarter streets, enforce existing laws, and educate the public on safe travel behavior. For more information, visit http://www.seattle.gov/visionzero.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. http://www.aarp.org

Lake City Way NE

Lake City Way N

Central District Streets Will Transform into Parkways this Saturday, Sept. 12!

HSummer Parkways 2ey there, if you’re looking for something fun to do Saturday while the summer sunshine is expected warm things up to 80?  The city would like to invite the you to join Seattle Summer Parkways, hosted by the Seattle Department of Transportation this Saturday 9/12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Central District.

More than 40 blocks of streets will be transformed into open-street “parkways” where people can bike, play, walk and run. A three-mile route, totaling 46 blocks, will be closed to through traffic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. but open to local traffic. Residents can still park and access the streets.

CD Map

This free, all-ages celebration will create an expansive, temporary open space where thousands of friends, families, and visitors can participate in dozens of community-based activities, from skateboard demos, to puppeteers, to art activities to food truck dining. In addition to participating in the activities, residents are encouraged to explore the open spaces by biking, running and walking along the route.

Activities will take place in four neighborhood parks: Pratt Park, Judkins Park, Garfield Playfields and Powell Barnett Park (please see attached map). Events include food trucks, buskers, live music, Zumba classes, Zorba Ball, Skate Like a Girl demos, bike polo and more.


In partnership with Seattle Summer Parkways, Bike Works will raffle off 10 free bicycles at Garfield Playground. Bicycles will be available for all-ages; winners must be present to win. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/summerparkways and follow Seattle Parkways on Facebook and Twitter @SeattleParkways #SeattleSummerParkways.



Summer Parkways 1