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Archive for 'Bridging the Gap'

Greenways, Transit and updates galore!




Would you like to know more about progress made by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on Bridging the Gap (BTG) – funded Greenways and transit corridor improvements?  Or get updated on what your BTG levy dollars promised and how close we are to reaching those goals? Like to meet new folks and find out how you can get engaged?   If so, you are in luck!

The BTG Levy Oversight Committee has a meeting scheduled for April, 29, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m., Seattle City Hall Room 370.    The committee is a dedicated group of 15 community members who meet quarterly to review and track the progress of the BTG transportation initiative that was passed by Seattle voters in 2006.  They are charged with ensuring SDOT is delivering on the promises made to voters.

Committee members come from all across the city and from all walks of life.  They take their oversight and accountability role seriously and they work closely with SDOT to ensure that BTG is not only meeting its goals, but that it is being integrated into the overall goals of the department and the City.

The committee members include:

  • Ann Martin, Co-chair
  • Kristen Lohse, Co-chair
  • Ref Lindmark
  • Betty Seith-Croll
  • Allegra Calder
  • John Coney
  • Jeremy
  • Barbara Wright
  • Chisula Chambers
  • Jessica Szelag, Bicycle Advisory Board member
  • Lydia Heard, Pedestrian Advisory Board member
  • David Mendoza, Freight Advisory Board member
  • Ben Noble, City Budget Director
  • Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee Chair

All committee meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend and share their views on BTG during public comment. If you are interested in how your tax dollars are allocated, why not mark your calendar and join us April 29th.

For more information, please visit BTG Levy Oversight Committee website.





Keep up with your New Year’s Resolution and take the stairs!


Stairway located on S Lilac Street between Letitia and Rainier Avenue S.

Stairway located on S Lilac Street between Letitia and Rainier Avenue S.

Did you know that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is responsible for managing more than 500 stairways that can be found across the city? With the help of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy, SDOT has been making it easier to make the decision to use the stairs by keeping the stairways clear and useable!

Stairways are an important connection to Seattle’s neighborhoods, transit, schools, and businesses. Thanks to the BTG levy, SDOT has completed 33 stairway projects to date and hasseven more planned for 2014! Look for SDOT crews this year working on stairways at: N 43rd Street and Palatine Avenue N; S Spokane Street; E McGraw Street and 18th Avenue E; SW Thistle Street; and E Thomas Street and 25th Avenue E. Two more projects are in the planning stage and will be announced soon.

Recently completed stairway at Sixth Avenue W and W Mercer Street.

Recently completed stairway at Sixth Avenue W and W Mercer Street.

Seattle’s stairways not only help increases our pedestrian connections, but it’s also much more fun climbing real stairs than using a stair climber at the gym. As Spring and Summer kick off, be sure to get out there and explore some of the great stairways Seattle has to offer. Who knows, you may even discover a new neighborhood, park, or route to your favorite restaurant!If stairs aren’t your thing, check out the other great projects BTG has planned around Seattle.


Happy Arbor Day Washington State!

city treesRESIZED

One man’s enthusiasm and love of trees literally grew into millions of the tall woody-trunked plants across the nation and to Arbor Day celebrations across our state today!

In the 1850’s J. Sterling Morton, a prominent Nebraska journalist and editor, planted the seeds for Arbor Day by advocating for the planting of trees in his articles and editorials. That effort eventually led to the nationwide celebration of Arbor Day.   Not only did he and his friends miss the trees of their former home of Detroit, but they quickly discovered the necessity of trees. They realized trees could provide much-needed wind breaks to prevent soil erosion, shade in the heat of the day and wood for fuel and building supplies, not to mention a respite from the harsh prairie environment.   Seattle’s City Arborist Nolan Rundquist, formerly a City Arborist from Nebraska, says even today cities throughout Nebraska and other Midwestern prairie states still maintain long rows of trees as wind shelters that were initially  planted during the tree planting movement started by Morton well over a century and a half ago.

In Seattle, Rundquist has led SDOT’s Urban Forestry section in its effort to preserve trees, and to restore the urban tree canopy throughout the city and most recently has spear-headed the adoption of the SDOT Tree Ordinance.  Urban Forestry has planted over 38,000 trees since the mid ‘70’s.  While trees do indeed provide shade and windbreaks and materials for fuel and building, today Seattle particularly values them for their role in purifying the air; absorbing rainfall thus preventing slides in our particularly hilly geography; serving as habitat for birds and small mammals; and equally important to all those benefits – the pleasing aesthetic value, the serenity, they bring to our built environment.

Seattle, in contrast to the State, celebrates Arbor Day in late October because, as Rundquist explains, the optimum time for planting in Seattle is the fall when trees get plenty of moisture during the rainy months allowing their root systems to become well established on through the winter and into Spring before the heat of the summer arrives.  This year, because Urban Forestry is working with a tight budget, all 500 trees to be planted will be in the ground by May 1.  Why now, rather than the fall? Purchasing the trees at this time of the year is far less costly – about a third of the price of trees in the fall.  Why you ask? The trees come bare root and are easy for nurseries to deliver without the bulk and weight of a tree rooted in soil.  In the fall, because trees are shipped in soil wrapped in burlap or planted in pots, they are much more costly to ship and thus cost the City escalates.   Rundquist says the biggest drawback to planting in spring is that the young trees will require a great deal of water to survive the warm summer months.  Nonetheless, our Urban Forestry experts have crunched the numbers for this year and planned to provide the water necessary to give the youngsters a good start in life in their new home ground!

To learn more about trees and all the services our Urban Forestry section provides, please visit our website at:  And you can also find answers to everything you ever wanted to know about trees on the following website: .


March showers bring, April leaves?!

As we say goodbye to the wettest March on record, we are greeted with warmer temperatures and a greener Seattle.  All that rain in March and slightly warmer temps have encouraged Seattle’s trees to leaf-out and ensure that Seattle lives up to its nickname of “the Emerald City.”

With the arrival of spring, the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) Urban Forestry Division is gearing up for its spring tree planting season and a summer filled with pruning and landscape maintenance.  Thanks, to the Seattle Transportation Levy – Bridging the Gap (BTG) – passed by Seattle voters in 2006, SODT crews have planted more than 5,500 new trees, pruned more than 23,000 trees and completed more than 4,500 maintenance projects across the City.SDOT’s Urban Forestry is charged with overseeing the more than 40,000 trees in the public right-of-way (ROW) and maintaining 123 acres of landscapes that relate to the transportation system. This work is important to maintain, protect, and expand the City’s urban landscape in street right-of-ways so that economic, environmental, safety and aesthetic benefits are maximized for Seattle’s residents and businesses.  If you have questions or would like more information about the SDOT Urban Forestry Tree Program, please visit Urban Forestry’s website.  In addition, if you have concerns about specific trees in your neighborhood, please call the citywide tree line at (206) 684-TREE.

SDOT is also developing the Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalks Management Plan to better address commonly occurring conflicts between trees and sidewalks.  It will establish a strategy and identify the tools necessary to achieve accessible sidewalks and expand the urban forest.

Seattle’s trees burst with beauty thanks to all the rain and warmer temperatures!

Seattle’s trees burst with beauty thanks to all the rain and warmer temperatures!


If you would like additional information on BTG please visit their website.


Urban Planners and Traffic Engineers for a Day!


About 45 folks gathered last week to help a team of professionals design a Festival Street for the heart of Georgetown.  The design workshop was a four hour long engagement between those who hold Georgetown near and dear (mostly business owners, employees, artists and residents) and the professional team of designers and engineers who needed the community’s input on the project.

On this project the community is defining the scope and nature of what will be done – in part because what makes a great street for holding festivals depends on what the community wants.  Festival Streets are, after all, a non-arterial street that is “designated for recurring temporary closure to vehicular traffic use for the purpose of pedestrian-oriented special activities” – such as the Georgetown Carnival and Honkfest.

The Georgetown Community Council, the Georgetown Merchants Association and the United Artists of Georgetown are all involved in, and enthusiastic about, the project.  An eight member citizen advisory group, formed in February, will continue to meet with the project team to select an alternative and to refine the design over the next year.  The project is expected to be built in 2015.

The Georgetown Festival Street was one of just 12 projects selected by the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee to receive Neighborhood Street Funds last year.  The project will also benefit from the One Percent for Art program, with the selection of Georgetown artist extraordinaire Chris McMullen in the project.


Wheels on the bus go round and round!

031814_RapidRide bus aRESIZE

Today, March 18th, is Bus Driver Appreciation Day!  Please take a minute and say thank you to your driver for getting you to your destination safely!   Bus drivers manage to keep a schedule, check fares, give directions, remember stop requests and more, all while safely maneuvering an extra-large vehicle through unpredictable traffic, bad weather and some really tight spaces! The fact is, bus drivers don’t have an easy job, they just make it look that way.

While we’re on the subject, today’s Bridging the Gap (BTG) status update addresses the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) effort to make Seattle easier to navigate and expand your commute options.  Thanks to the 2006 BTG transportation levy, SDOT has been working hard to improve transit across the city through the BTG Transit Program which is made up of three components – corridor improvements, spot improvements and transit service hours.

The first component was to complete transit corridor projects along three key corridors – West Seattle, Ballard and Aurora Avenue.  (In 2012-2011? the West Seattle corridor x line began  and 2013 saw the opening of the Rapid Ride E line along Aurora Avenue which will serve commuters in north Seattle and provide bus riders with a critical link into the city.  Other corridor improvement project completed include: Market/45th Rainier/Jackson; Belltown Third Avenue; Delridge; Dexter Avenue; N/NW 85th Street; 15th Avenue NE; and Pacific Avenue NE.

031814_Transit photo_RESIZE

While the large corridor projects are most visible to the public, the second smaller component, key spot improvements, has been essential to keeping buses on time and on schedule.  Spot improvements have included parking and signal revisions, queue jumps, bus bulbs and stop upgrades (such as—-).  Projects have been completed at: N 85th Street and  Greenwood; Third  Avenue and Pine; Wall and Battery Street bus lanes; Columbia Street bus lanes; Fourth  Avenue S bus lanes; and the First Avenue bus lane.

The third component of the transit program is the 50,000 new hours of transit service that are in place.  The city is using $1.5 million levy funds annually to purchase additional bus hours for Seattle residents through the county’s Transit Now program.  Purchasing more bus service for these routes moves the city closer to its goal of having a network of reliable transit service running every 15 minutes or less, all day and late into the evening, seven days a week on corridors connecting neighborhoods with active business centers. Frequent, reliable transit service offers people options to driving and helps fight global warming. Many of the service additions are focused on electric trolley bus routes, which emit virtually zero greenhouse gases and other pollution.

The final and added piece to the BTG transit program was the development of a Transit Master Plan (TMP) that was completed in 2012 and will serve as a long-term guide to help direct future investments in transit across the city identifying key corridors for transit improvement and upgrades.  For information on the TMP please visit the webpage.

For more information on the BTG transit programs please visit our webpage. For additional information on BTG please visit our webpage.





Trails, signs and bike parking spaces, oh my!

March roared in with record rain, but appears to be giving way to more spring-like weather this week and that has many Seattleites itching to get outside and get active!  The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is working to make that happen by putting your transportation levy dollars to good use, making it easier to walk, bike and ride in Seattle.  Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy, passed by Seattle voters New bike route signageRESIZEin 2006, SDOT crews are working to inspect and make needed repairs our urban trails, install new route signage making it easier to travel from one part of town to another and they will also be installing more bicycle parking in neighborhoods around the city.

This year, in addition to inspecting more than 40 miles of trails, our crews will make more than ten scheduled spot improvements at key locations along our most heavily-used urban trails.  SDOT and BTG will invest $1,165 million in 2014, to inspect and make improvements to urban trails and to maintain existing on-street facilities.  Spot improvements can range from filling a pothole, to trimming tree roots or repaving small sections of trail to keep them smooth and easy to navigate for all users.

Bike Route SignageRESIZECrews have already begun installing new signage along more than 25 miles of bike routes and have started installing new bicycle parking spaces which will total 500 by the end of this year.  All of this work comes ahead of the upcoming Bike to Work Month (May) and the summer cycling season.

Over the seven years the transportation levy has been in place, SDOT crews have inspected a total of 176 miles of urban trails and bike ways, made more than 173 spot improvements, installed new signs along more than 156 miles of bike routes and installed more than 1,590 bicycle parking spaces.  Each of these projects helps make Seattle a little easier to travel through and get you where you want to go whether it’s for work or pleasure.

For more information on BTG please visit the web page.


It’s your money, where is it going?

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 funded 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; promotes development of the  Safe Routes to School Program; and helps neighborhoods secure larger projects built through the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Project Program.

Old wooden supports exposed as the N 45th Street Viaduct is demomlished,

Old wooden supports exposed as the N 45th Street Viaduct is demomlished,

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 and Major Projects – no more than 15%

During the early stages of development for the levy program, key goals and benchmarks were established helping the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) create a work program around BTG and set accountability measures to ensure the promises would be met.  Some of the promises made and current numbers include:

The completed replacement of the N 45th Street Viaduct.

The completed replacement of the N 45th Street Viaduct.

  • Prune 25,000 street trees – 23,000 trees have been pruned
  • Repave 200 lane-miles of arterial streets – 205 lane miles completed
  • Rehabilitate or replace 5 bridges – 6 have been rehabilitated or replaced
  • Seismically retrofit 5 additional bridges – 3 have been completed
  • Build 117 blocks of new sidewalks – 100 blocks have been constructed
  • Restripe 5,000 crosswalks – 4,000 have been restriped
  • Create “safe routes to schools” near 30 elementary schools – 40 have been created
  • Repair 144 blocks of sidewalks – 167 blocks have been repaired

The transportation levy has been a critical funding piece for the department and SDOT is proud that is meeting and even surpassing the goals of the levy.

If you would like additional information on BTG please visit the webpage.


Ready for spring? Time to shake off the winter blues and walk!


Before Improvements were made   around Aki Kurose Middle School as part of the Safe Routes to School program.

Before improvements were made around Aki Kurose Middle School as part of the Safe Routes to School program.

According to the calendar, we are moving quickly from winter to spring and folks are looking forward to getting outside and getting active once again.  As the days get longer, it’s a great time of year for kids to walk or bike to school.   Thanks to your transportation levy dollars – Bridging the Gap (BTG) – 40 elementary schools around Seattle have gained new and improved walking routes since the Safe Routes to School program began in 2007. This program works closely with school staff, studentsand parents to identify barriers andsolutions to make walking and biking safer and more accessible.

After Improvements were made at the same location at Aki Kurose Middle School.

After improvements were made at the same location, 42nd and Graham Street, by Aki Kurose.

Depending upon the streets surrounding the school, the safety program improvements can include all or some of the following:  new curb ramps, marked crosswalks, sidewalk repairs, new sidewalks and speed cushions. Building off the success of 2013 with nine projects completed, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will make improvements at eight schools in 2014.

New sidewalks will be installed around both Olympic Hills and Arbor Height Elementary Schools.  Roxhill, Salmon Bay and Beacon Hill Elementary Schools will see newly marked cross walks and curb bulbs installed.  In addition, McDonald Elementary will receive new curb ramps; Martin Luther King Elementary will be given new curb bulbs; and Maple Elementary will acquire new curbs to help buffer the sidewalk this year.

Over the first seven years of the program, Orcas Elementary, Sanislo Elementary, Dearborn Park Elementary, Wing Luke Elementary, Dunlap Elementary, Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Concord Elementary, Northgate Elementary, Aki Kurose Middle School, Kimball Elementary and Cleveland High schools were recipients of funding from the program.

For additional information on the Safe Routes to School Program please visit their webpage and for information about the BTG Program please visit its webpage.




Your Transportation Levy Dollars at work – 2014, part 2

Last week’s post, part 1,  focused more on the larger projects (bridges, paving, trees and the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Projects) supported by your transportation levy – BTG.  This week we will look at the work plans for pedestrians, bikes and traffic management operations.

Since the BTG initiative was passed by Seattle voters in 2006, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has pulled together ambitious work plans each year and 2014 is no exception.

More work to be completed in 2014:

  • April 2 2013 BTG Street Sign RESIZE2,000 new regulatory signs will be replaced and upgraded and 1,250 intersections will have their street name signs replaced.
  • Crews will make 45 crossing improvements, complete eight Safe Routes to School projects, construct 150 new curb ramps and install pedestrian countdown signals at 10 intersections.
  • More than 850 lane miles of arterial roadway will be restriped, 500 crosswalks will also be restriped and 60 miles of on-street bicycle facilities will be maintained.
  • SDOT will inspect 40 miles of trails and bikeways, install 25 miles of signed bicycle routes, install four miles of greenways and six miles of bike lanes and sharrows and install 500 bicycle parking spaces across the city.
  • April 2 2013 BTG Stop photos 023 RESIZECrews will also rehabilitate seven stairways and construct seven blocks of new sidewalk.
  • 50,000 transit service hours will be preserved, two transit corridors will be designed, and two will be constructed, while six priority bus corridors will see strategic spot improvements constructed.

Through the first six years of the levy, the city has delivered on the promises made by BTG.  We have constructed more than 100 blocks of new sidewalk; installed more than 44,500 new regulatory signs; replaced street names signs at nearly 10,000 intersections; improved walking routes to more than 40 schools; remarked 4,729 crosswalks; installed 156 miles of bike route signage; striped 150 miles of bike lanes and sharrows; upgraded 15,000 linear-feet of guardrail; and installed pedestrian countdown signals at 210 intersections.  Each of these projects help residents of Seattle navigate the city a little easier and a little more safely.

For more information about BTG’s goals and progress on meeting those targets, please visit the BTG web page.