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Archive for 'Bridging the Gap'

Landscaping Seattle City Right of Way: a Math Problem

Do you ever drive down a landscaped Seattle street and wonder, “Why don’t they maintain that median?” or, “Wow, I love the landscaping along this road, it really makes the neighborhood.”

In Seattle, there are approximately 123 acres of landscaped public right of way and tree pits—and 12 gardeners to maintain it all. That means the team must diligently prioritize workload. The number one priority is ensuring these areas are safe and provide accessibility as they were designed. That’s the goal whether the landscaping was installed in the 1960’s, like it was when the 15th Avenue NW and Nickerson Street interchange was being built, or newly installed, as with the Mercer  corridor improvements.

1960 Seattle Municipal Archives photo of Emerson Street Interchange; Nickerson Approach to bridge.

1960 Seattle Municipal Archives photo; Nickerson Approach to bridge.

Mercer Corridor construction and landscaping work in January 2014

Mercer Corridor construction and landscaping work in January 2014

 

The Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry gardeners are well-trained in current professional standards—several are Certified Professional Horticulturists and ISA Certified Arborists. Though the staff is well-trained and dedicated, it still comes down to a numbers game. The dozen SDOT Urban Forestry gardeners, supported by two irrigation specialists, are only able to reach about half of the landscaped areas each year for proactive maintenance. Despite the challenge, the nimble team keeps multiple programs going (click on example photos below, for larger views): mowing for 6-8 months; leaf pick-up every fall; tree pit maintenance, landscape maintenance year-round; planting several hundred streets trees every spring and fall (funded by Bridging the Gap); and accent landscapes work, which is the more labor intensive flower beds featuring perennials and annuals.LANDSCAPE BEFORE & AFTER 021 Picture 0445TH AVE NE PHASE II 003 5TH AVE NE PHASE II 005 16th AVE SW MEDIANS 9.13 005

Some of the maintenance work, which focuses first on arterials, also requires traffic control like this recent work along Harbor Avenue SW. The travel lane was shifted to the parking lane for six hours, each of three days last week, to ensure the workers were safe and to meet safety standards set by the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD. On Harbor Avenue SW, between Southwest Spokane Street and Southwest Florida Street, the team weeded and cut back plants to improve visibility and added mulch to suppress weed growth.HarborAve

 Segment of Harbor Avenue during and after landscape maintenance
(click for larger view)

So far this year SDOT Urban Forestry has recycled over 430 cubic yards of wood chip mulch back into these landscapes. This mulch suppresses weeds, conditions the soil, retains soil moisture and reduces the need for herbicides. It’s important maintenance, and it’s needed all over the city.

A volunteer Tree Ambassador recants how history has shaped the trees in Seward Park during a recent Tree Walk.

A volunteer Tree Ambassador recants how history has shaped the trees in Seward Park during a recent ReLeaf Program Tree Walk.

The math starts to work out when volunteers become involved. SDOT relies on the community to help alert us to issues in landscaped areas we are unable to attend to, and on neighborhoods to help with litter pickup, weeding and group work parties. Seattle’s ReLeaf Tree Ambassador Program helps to train volunteers who are interested in leading landscape maintenance events in their neighborhoods. Recently, a volunteer group organized by the Tree Ambassador program helped weed and mulch over 25 tree pits along Martin Luther King Jr Way near the Rainier Beach Transit Station.

RainierVounteers

When volunteers join forces with the dedicated gardener dozen, and the irrigation specialists give the plantings what they need to survive—the City starts to look pretty vibrant. Want to be part of the equation? Add to the crew and make a winning solution this Saturday in Rainier Beach:

RainierVounteer

If you like solving math problems, help us solve for X:

(12 Gardeners) + (2 Irrigation Specialiats) + (X Volunteers) = 123 well-kept acres

Want to get your number in the game?

Thank you Seattle!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hit the trails! BTG provides new trails and trail maintenance for a more vibrant Seattle

The Bradford Street  connection used to be a steep, dirt trail.

What is now the Bradford Street Connector used to be a steep, dirt trail, shown in this “before” photo,  from 43rd Avenue South to Genesee Park in the Mount Baker neighborhood.

Now the Bradford connector is a smoothly paved trail segment with a switchback to reduce the grade.

The Bradford Street Connector, a BTG project,  is a smoothly paved trail  with a switchback to reduce the grade, providing easy access to Genesee Park and Lake Washington.

One essential element of making it easier to move around in Seattle is the installation and maintenance of the bicycle and pedestrian trail system across the city. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters in 2006, more than four miles of new trail have been constructed and annual trail maintenance performed by the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Trail segments constructed include: the Burke Gilman Extension along Shilshole, the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle, the Lake Union Ship Canal Trail on the south side of the canal, the Bradford Street Connector in the Mount Baker neighborhood, and the Burke Gilman-Magnuson Park Spur. These segments help make connections to the larger network of trails in the city and across the region providing key links between neighborhoods.

While building the trail system is the first step, maintaining it is the second step! Bridging the Gap provides funding to help inspect the trails and make necessary spot improvements to keep them in working order. Since 2007, SDOT has inspected more than 176 miles of trail and made more than 173 spot improvements. Spot improvements include things like patching broken pavement, restoring missing signs, trimming trees, landscaping and general trail repair. In 2014, SDOT crews will inspect 40 miles of trail and make 10 spot improvements to keep us moving along smoothly!

Bridging the Gap is making Seattle a more vibrant city through improvements to roads, sidewalks, bike facilities and key improvements to key transit routes, all of which make it easier to navigate from one place to another using a variety of modes. For more information on Bridging the Gap, please visit SDOT’s Bridging the Gap Web page.

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Paving = a vibrant city!

Columbian Way with new pavement

Columbian Way with new pavement

Columbian Way before it was repaved.

Columbian Way before it was repaved.

 

What do paving and creating a vibrant city have to do with each other? Good question! At first glance it would appear they have nothing to do with each other, but when you look a little more closely they are linked. Paving projects help keep Seattle’s road smooth, easy to navigate and safe for all roadway users which in turn helps keep people and goods moving creating a more activity and thus a more vibrant city.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has been working hard to pave Seattle’s main roads and make needed repairs. SDOT is able to accomplish this work thanks to funding provided by the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation maintenance initiative, passed by voters in 2006. Since the BTG program began its work in 2007 more than 200 lane-miles of roadway have been paved. Those routes include:

  • Airport Way S, 15th Avenue NE, Dexter Avenue N, Columbian Way S, First Avenue S, Fourth Avenue S, Fifth Avenue S, 15th Avenue N, NE Ravenna Boulevard, 14th Avenue S, NE 125th and Sandpoint Way and Delridge Way.

This year, 17 lane-miles will be completed and include the completion of the N 105th Street and N/NE Northgate Way from Greenwood Avenue N to First Avenue NE project and the repaving of Holman Rd. from NW 87th to Greenwood Avenue N. These roadways were in need of major repair work and provide key links to neighborhoods in the Seattle’s north end.

Paving projects are, by nature, disruptive and can frustrate drivers, transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately, it is a part of the project. We do our best to keep disruptions to a minimum; however, they cannot always be avoided. It’s important to remember that in the end, all roadway users will have a smoother and safer road on which to travel.

Along with the major Arterial Asphalt and Concrete projects discussed above, SDOT will also be doing a lot of smaller repaving work as part of the Arterial Major Maintenance Program. Smaller projects, throughout the City, will repave more than 16 lane-miles helping to preserve and extend the lives of those roads.

For information on the Arterial Asphalt & Concrete Paving projects please visit the web site. For more information on BTG please visit the webpage.

 

 

 

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Freight Master Plan, BTG Financial Review and more

BTG20logo RESIZE

Would you like to know more about progress made by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on developing a Freight Master Plan? How about a review of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) finances and an update on the 2014 BTG work plan implementation? Would you like to meet new folks and find out how you can get engaged?   If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in luck!

The BTG Levy Oversight Committee has a meeting scheduled for July 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 Valenta
  • 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 July 29th.

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

 

 

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Neighborhood Street Fund Update

nsf_mapRESIZE

Here we are – halfway between the start of 2013 and the end of 2015, the three-year cycle for the Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) program. So, just how is the program doing? Pretty darn well it turns out!

By December 2012, 87 applications were received from groups and individuals for a portion of the $4.5M reserved by the Bridging the Gap levy for NSF projects. These projects had to be reasonably big transportation projects located entirely on SDOT right-of-way, but could address any sort of problem. Safety was nearly always the driving force behind these proposed projects and was one of the key criteria used to determine which would be funded.

2013 is the year when the projects were planned and prioritized. By mid-February Seattle’s 13 District Councils had each selected 3 projects for further consideration. By the end of May SDOT had studied the proposal, developed a preliminary design and an initial cost estimate. The District Councils then ranked their choices (1st, 2nd and 3rd) in June and the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee selected a dozen projects for funding from the full list by August. By October of last year the recommendations were included in the City’s budget. Nearly all of the selected projects will improve pedestrian safety.

This year, 2014, is when most of the projects are designed, and the plans and specifications are prepared. In most cases this involves coordination with other agencies or utilities and in some cases there are details to be worked out with the project sponsors or nearby stakeholders.

One of the twelve projects that was funded– a 2 block long extension to SDOT’s West Duwamish Trail Project which was already in design – was fast-tracked and started construction this week.

Five other projects were bundled together for design (by SDOT staff) and construction (by a single contractor to be selected next year). These mostly feature new curb bulb or sidewalks for pedestrian safety:

  • Waterway 22, along Northlake Boulevard and N Stone Way south of North 34th Street
  • West Woodlawn, modifications to Third Avenue NW at NW 56th Street
  • 19th Avenue at East Union and Pike Streets
  • 12th Avenue at East Howell and Olive Streets
  • Lake-to-Bay route improvements on West Harrison Street

The Pioneer Square ADA access project has three locations; one on South Jackson Street which will be done later this summer and three others on Yesler Avenue which will be done next year. (As a bonus, SDOT received a grant which will allow the Neighborhood Street Fund to address additional locations next year.)

The Georgetown Festival Street project proposed for 12th Ave South and South Vale Street is 50 percent designed, thanks to the able assistance of a Citizen Advisory Group who has been working with the design team. This will also be built in 2015.

Three locations on Rainier Ave South are being designed to improve pedestrian movements: One at Rainier and Dearborn, one in the historic district of Columbia City, and one in Rainier Beach. These are in various stages of design (10 to 60 percent), but all are planned for construction next year.

Greenwood Ave N has NSF-funded sidewalks at 90 percent design, located at key locations between N 92nd and N 105th Streets. Construction is scheduled to start by March 2015.

Overall, the Neighborhood Street Fund program is doing just what was intended when it was included in the Bridging the Gap levy; directing scarce resources at the neighborhood transportation projects deemed most important to address. For more information about the program, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/btg_nsf_large.htm .

 

 

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What do trees, public safety and play streets have in common?

On June 25, 2014 Mayor Ed Murray announced his Summer of Safety Initiative. The initiative sets up a coordinated approach to public safety across city departments that will mobilize resources to change our built environment, activate our streets and provide jobs for our youth and young adults. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is one of the key departments actively involved in the initiative.

Neighborhood  street before pruning work.

Neighborhood street before pruning work.

SDOT will focus on two key areas over the summer. The first will make changes to the built environment. This piece actively involves SDOT’s Urban Forestry Division.   The division is charged with overseeing the more than 40,000 trees in the public right-of-way (ROW) and maintaining the 123 acres of landscapes that relate to the transportation system. How do they work to improve public safety you ask? Well, through tree pruning, especially around street lights, and landscape management we can make a street more inviting to the public while providing few places for criminal activity. Much of the work completed by SDOT’s Urban Forestry Division is possible thanks to the Bridging the Gap transportation levy passed by Seattle voters in 2006. Funding from the levy has been key in allowing SDOT to prune more than 23,000 trees, plant more than 5,500 trees and maintain street landscapes across the city.

Seattle residents are invited to attend one of the remaining “Find it, Fix it” walks being hosted by the City. Each of these Community Safety Walks will help residents identify safety issues present in the built environment of Seattle’s neighborhoods. Department Representatives will be on hand to answer questions and serve as resources for residents.

Same street after Urban Forestry Pruned trees and cut back vegetation overgrowth.

Same street after Urban Forestry Pruned trees and cut back vegetation overgrowth.

  • July 8: Orcas and Martin Luther King Jr Way
  • July 22: Sound Transit tour, between Rainier Beach and Othello Stations
  • July 29: Rainier Avenue and Genesee
  • August 12: Rainier Beach

For more information on the Summer of Safety Initiative, please visit their webpage.

SDOT’s second area of focus this summer will be to help community members activate the public spaces around them. SDOT will work with residents to help them create a Play Street in their neighborhood. Under this pilot program, residents can apply to close one block of street to traffic so the kids (and adults) can have more space to play. Many cities across the country have Play Streets, including New York City. This program will give kids of all ages more space to be active and they support FUN for everyone! For information on how you can create a Play Street, please contact Diane Walsh at diane.walsh@seattle.gov, (206) 386-4575.

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.

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

 

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Schools Zones; Keeping it Slow, Keeping it Safe

Speed hump DSCN0168 RESIZEThis summer SDOT is installing speed humps in school zones at four schools in Seattle. (What’s a speed hump, you say? See our previous blog posting for the technical explanation). Lowering vehicle speed is one of the ways SDOT improves safety on the walking and biking routes to school. National studies show that a relatively small reduction in speed can make a big difference in safety for pedestrians. In Europe, speed humps are sometimes called “sleeping policemen” because they reinforce slower speeds and good behavior even at times when school is not in session, making schools and playgrounds more accessible to neighbors at all times of the day, throughout the year.

Research shows that speed humps are an effective tool not only at reducing speed but also at improving safety. The Institute of Traffic Engineers found a 13 percent reduction in collisions at locations where speed humps were installed. After SDOT installed speed humps near Graham Hill and Highland Park Elementary Schools, the percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour decreased by 80 percent at each school.

Speed hump and school bus DSCN0186 RESIZESpeed humps will be constructed on NE 130th Street near Olympic Hills School; on NE 80th Street near Thornton Creek School; on 30th Avenue NE near Eckstein Middle School; and on 30th Avenue SW near Roxhill School and Explorer Middle School. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of August, ready to serve school safety on the first day of school in September.

For more information about SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, please visit our website: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/saferoutes.htm

If you have questions or comments Safe Routes to School, please contact: Brian Dougherty, SDOT’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator by phone at 206-684-5124 or email at brian.dougherty@seattle.gov

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Summer is here and SDOT crews are busy

 

N/NE Northgate Way and N 105th project is on target to wrap up this summer.

N/NE Northgate Way and N 105th project is on target to wrap up this summer.

 

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on track to meet its 2014 goals for the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative. As summer begins, we have moved into the busy construction season and you can find work on BTG projects all across the city. SDOT has been busy paving roads, constructing new sidewalk, installing new signs and restriping roadway markings. BTG continues to make steady progress towards its nine-year goals.

This year, SDOT will complete two major paving projects – N 105th, N/NE Northgate Way and Holman Road – both projects are underway and will bring 17 new lane-miles of paving. And that’s not all, since January:

  • 15 new crossing improvements have been implemented and new pedestrian countdown signals installed at 40 intersections.
  • 263 new bicycle parking spaces and 14 miles of bike route signs have been installed. Crews have also inspected 40 miles of trails.
  • Three Safe Routes to School projects have been completed, 56 new curb ramps have been constructed and 11 school zones have been improved.
  • 444 new street trees have been planted so far this year and more than 457 have been pruned.

SDOT crews are also chipping away on much-needed maintenance work as well. Just this year, they have already replaced more than 1,558 regulatory traffic signs, installed new street name signs at 487 intersections, remarked more than 240 crosswalks and replaced 796 linear feet of poor guard rail.

During the seven and half years of the levy, the City has delivered on the promises made by Bridging the Gap. To date SDOT has paved 205 lane-miles of road, secured 50,000 new hours of transit service, constructed 100 blocks of new sidewalk, repaired 167 blocks of sidewalk, remarked 4,729 crosswalks, replaced 44,439 regulatory signs, installed school zone signage at 196 schools, replaced street name signs at 9,873 intersections, striped 150 miles of bike lanes and sharrows and planted 5,569 new street trees.

For more information about BTG and its goals and progress towards meeting those goals, please visit the BTG web page.

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Construction projects big and small

Curb ramps installed at 11th and Trenton SW.

Curb ramps installed at 11th and Trenton SW.

 

Summer is scheduled to arrive in 11 days and construction projects (both big and small) are popping up all over the city. If you have not already felt the impacts, it’s safe to say just wait and you will. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation Initiative, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews are keeping very busy these days as they work their way around the city paving roads, repairing sidewalks, installing new sidewalk, restriping crosswalks, implementing crossing improvements and installing pedestrian countdown signals. All of these projects help make Seattle more accessible to all its residents.

Curb ramps addes to Seattle's First Hill neighborhood.

Curb ramps addes to Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood.

One key program helping to make Seattle more accessible is the installation of ADA – (Americans with Disabilities Act) – compliant curb ramps across the city. SDOT has been working hard to update sidewalks currently without curb ramps and making sure that curb ramps are included in every new sidewalk project. Through 2013, with funding from BTG, more than 859 new curb ramps were installed across the city and 150 more will be installed this year. The ultimate goal is for all corners have curb ramps and SDOT will keep working until it reaches that critical target.

Curb ramps and a new sidewalk were added to 32nd Avenue SW.

Curb ramps and a new sidewalk were added to 32nd Avenue SW.

All construction projects can cause a bit of stress for all roadway users. They can mean delays and detours. Know that SDOT is working hard to minimize these inconveniences to keep Seattle moving. We encourage you to slow down and give yourself a few extra minutes to get to your destination. All this construction is a sign of a healthy and growing city.

For more information on BTG and the programs it funds please visit the web site.

 

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Construction, construction…oh my, more construction!!

2012-5-9 Blackbottle CW pour (4)RESIZEIt’s that time of year where road construction activity seems to be everywhere and it can be both a good thing and a bit frustrating. Late spring and summer is the most active time for road construction thanks to more consistent good weather and longer days. With funding from the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews are very busy making Seattle a little smoother and easier to navigate!

If it seems SDOT crews are everywhere you would be mostly right. This year SDOT will repave 17 lane miles of arterial roadway, restripe more than 500 crosswalks and will restripe 850 lane line miles of arterial roadway. Crews will construct more than four miles of new greenways, install 25 miles of new bike route signs and make repairs to ten key locations along Seattle’s trail system. You will also see SDOT crews repairing more than 25 blocks of new sidewalks, constructing seven blocks of new sidewalk, implementing 45 crossing improvements and completing eight Safe Routes to School projects.

Ravenna Blvd PavingRESIZEWhile construction season can bring small inconveniences – potential detours and slowdowns – it is worth it in the long run for smoother pavement, safer crossings and walking routes and newly striped roadways. So, give yourself a few extra minutes to get to your destination, slow down and give the road crews a little extra space. They are working to make Seattle a better place for all of us.

For more information on BTG and its accomplishments please visit the website.

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