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Archive for 'General'

Crosswalk Law 1.0

Washington’s crosswalk law is pretty simple – stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. But most people are unaware that every intersection contains a crosswalk whether marked or unmarked. Drivers are required to stop for pedestrians when crossing the street at marked crosswalks and at intersections as well. That’s right it’s perfectly legal to cross the street at an intersection even without the aid of crosswalk striping on the pavement. It’s critically important that everyone understand this basic rule of the road to keep pedestrians – including students, seniors, and transit riders – safe. Let’s take a look at a few examples of legal crossings.


The law around standard crosswalks like the one pictured above is relatively straightforward. When a pedestrian is waiting at the curb to cross the street, drivers are required to stop. SDOT installs this type of crossing on lower volume streets with no more than three lanes of traffic and many of these are designated school crossings. These crossings are ‘uncontrolled’, meaning that there are no stop signs or traffic signals to assign right-of-way so we’re counting on drivers and pedestrians to know and follow the law.


As mentioned earlier, all intersections contain legal crossings whether marked or unmarked so the intersection pictured above has four legal crossings. If a pedestrians were waiting to cross the street at this location, drivers would be required to stop and let them cross safely.

At traffic signals, state law says, drivers can turn into the crosswalk only after pedestrians are one lane past the drivers half of the roadway. The image below should help clarify this law. Just remember that pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way at crosswalks and intersections. Give them plenty of time to cross the street.

croswalklaw1.03Here are a few other tips to help keep pedestrians safe

  • Don’t block the view. It’s illegal to park with 20 feet of a marked or unmarked crosswalk and within 30 feet of a traffic signal, stop sign, or yield sign. Parking too close to a crosswalk or traffic control device limits the visibility of the device and pedestrians – especially shorter children or people using wheelchairs.
  • Slow down. Speed increases the amount of time it takes to recognize pedestrians and bring your vehicle to a stop. Follow the speed limit and watch out for pedestrians.
  • Sidewalks and Driveways. Stop for pedestrians whenever you’re driving across a sidewalk to access a parking lot, driveway or alley.

Pedestrians are much more vulnerable to injuries in collisions and the likelihood of injury is nearly 100 percent should an incident occur. Let’s work together to make sure that doesn’t happen. When you’re out on the streets, look out for others and stop for pedestrians.



Play Like a Parking Pro

Street parking– what a game to try to win. SDOT wants you to know the rules to become a Parking Pro.

In August, SDOT started making changes to the on-street parking rates in various parts of the city. There are temporary signs and orange flags at parking pay stations to help alert you to changes. Our Performance-Based Parking Pricing Program directs changes based on performance criteria and parking data. Our goal is to ensure that one or two parking spaces are open and available on each block throughout the day. We adjust rates up or down based on demand to provide reliable, convenient parking. This summer and fall we are making changes in 22 areas.

Have you seen the new parking signs and wondered what they mean?


Where you will see these signs? Pike-Pine, South Lake Union, Uptown Triangle, Capitol Hill north of Olive Way/John Street

What you need to know? These areas will see a $0.50 cent rate increase because parking is full much of the day and early evening, making it very hard to find an available space. The goal is to entice some people to look for alternates or off-street lots, in order to open up a handful of spaces so that there is more availability for others coming to the neighborhood. We want to make sure that you can find parking close to your destination. Check out the map here to see parking options near your destination.


Where you will see these signs? Parts of Denny Triangle close to the commercial core as well as parts of the U-District and the Chinatown/International District

What you need to know? These signs indicate that there is street parking nearby with a lower rate. For example, in the northeast corner of downtown near Denny and Westlake, that area has a $1.50/hour rate, while other parts of downtown street parking are more expensive.


Where you will see these signs? In the paid parking areas on 12th Avenue as well as in Cherry Hill, Green Lake, Fremont, and along NW Market St and 22nd Ave NW in Ballard

What you need to know? Paid parking hours will change to 8 AM – 8 PM in these areas in the next two weeks. Hours are extended to increase street parking availability in the evening. Our 2014 study showed 7 PM parking occupancies at or above 95%.

Evening paid parking helps free up a few parking spaces in very full areas. Overnight or long-term parkers are encouraged to park off-street or out of the core commercial districts. A few people might decide to carpool, bus, walk, or bike to their destinations.


Where you will see these signs? The northern parts of Belltown and Denny Triangle as well as parts of Ballard, U-District and the Chinatown/International District

What you need to know? When you see this sign, you have found bargain street parking. These areas will see a $0.50 rate decrease. Data shows that parking is not well-used and that too high a rate is charged for the current demand. Check out the map here to see details.

More information about the parking rate changes is available here.



Transit Improvements Coming to First Avenue and Denny Way

1st--Denny-Transit-Improvements-Map_webSDOT has recently made several transit service improvements along Denny Way, at the intersections of First Avenue and Denny and First Avenue and Broad Street. These changes have improved transit’s speed and reliability, but we are not done yet. We’re planning more through these busy intersections:

  • New signal operations at northbound First Avenue and Denny Way New traffic signal hardware and a longer bus-only signal phase will allow more buses, including local service to Magnolia and express service to Ballard and northwest Seattle, to turn left from the existing bus-only curb lane. Drivers travelling north on First Avenue should expect to see buses cross in front of existing travel lanes as they turn from First Avenue to Denny, and a longer green light for these buses and other buses proceeding north across Denny to First Avenue North.
  • Move the Denny Way bus stop To accommodate existing westbound bus traffic and make sure buses don’t block the intersection, we’ll move the bus stop on westbound Denny Way (west of First Ave North) 150 feet down the block, next to Queen Anne Avenue North. Metro will install a new shelter with lighting. The new location will accommodate two to three buses, instead of the current one to two buses, on routes serving Lower Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, and South Lake Union.
  • Revised Parking Restriction for Transit Speed and Reliability on First Avenue. Existing parking restrictions on First Avenue between Denny Way and Broad Street will expand to provide a bus-only lane for longer periods of the day and match other bus lane operations in the city. Currently, parking is not allowed from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In addition, parking will not be allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. so buses can more reliably serve passengers travelling to Lower Queen Anne, Interbay, Magnolia, and Ballard.
  • Benefits Combined, the transit improvements coming to First and Denny will provide quicker and more consistent bus travel in both the morning and afternoon rush hour. These changes will get buses through this chokepoint quickly and get riders to their destinations.
    • Improvements to the Denny Way bus stop will benefit about 150 passengers per day.
    • The new signal phase at 1st and Denny will help nearly 100 daily bus trips headed for Magnolia and Ballard get through this intersection quicker.
    • The expanded hours of the bus-only lane will allow over 50 bus trips free-flow travel on First Avenue during these additional times.

Routes benefitting from these changes include: Rapid Ride D Line, 1, 2, 13, 15X, 17X, 18X, 24 and 33.

Cost and Schedule All improvements will be complete by fall 2014.


We’re looking for public input on this project during the month of September, if you have questions please contact or (206) 684-4209.


Brush up on your Waterfront Program knowledge at community fairs and festivals!

Seattle Waterfront: Time capsule

The Seattle Waterfront = Fun

For students, summer is an opportunity to relax and unwind after months of hard work in the classroom. Learners of every age – elementary schoolers, graduate students, and students of life – flock to fairs and festivals during Seattle’s warmest season to soak up the sun and participate in cultural and civic events throughout our region. When school is out of session, the Waterfront Program takes its grassroots outreach strategies out into the community to do some teachin’! In recent years, we’ve made it a priority to provide easy access to project information through participation in summer fairs and festivals. We’ve been to more than 200 fairs and festivals, reaching thousands of new people in recent years! Taking our project into the neighborhoods where we live, work, and play, our team shares updates and answers questions about our shared waterfront. Whether you’re interested in the overall vision for the future waterfront, want information about current design, or you’re curious for more details about how the project will incorporate improved accessibility to-and-from the waterfront for people of all ages and abilities, we’re on-hand! Fairs and festivals are one way the Waterfront Program is working to educate the community on all-things waterfront.

Plus, who says learning can’t be fun? Tons of folks we’ve met at summer events in the community have “pictured themselves on the future waterfront” in Waterfront Seattle’s photo booth and/or have shared their favorite waterfront memories as part of our time capsule activity!

We’re inching ever-closer to fall, but the Waterfront Program will be at several more events this season – we hope to see you there!

If you’re unable to attend our fairs and festivals, but you want to learn more – reach out through our project inbox or give us a call at (206) 499-8040! We’ve also got a neat new feature that’ll allow you to sign up for program updates just by texting “waterfront” to 66866!


Play Streets – An SDOT program for kids that can be enjoyed by the whole Family

Play streets

SDOT continues to 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. It’s just what it sounds like. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street to traffic so that you and your neighbors can go out and play in the street.

Play streets provide more space for kids (and adults) to play and be physically active. So far this year, SDOT has had 34 total Play Streets events – 21 which are recurring and 13 that were just one time events.

Play streets can be hosted by schools, community groups, or neighbors. School-organized play streets provide additional space for recess or other special activities, like a field day. Community/neighborhood play streets help neighbors create more space for play during the summer or after school. Almost any non-arterial street can be a play street as long as it is not longer than one block and does not include an intersection.

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 visit their webpage or contact Diane Walsh at, (206) 386-4575.


WSDOT State Route 99 Reopening

Seattle drivers, bus riders and bicyclists welcomed back their normal weekday commutes last Wednesday August 27, after WSDOT crews reopened State Route 99 near South Lake Union at 4 a.m.

Some rights reserved by WSDOT

SR99 Renovation

During the closure, crews building the future north portal of the SR 99 tunnel demolished and replaced the section of SR 99 that crosses above Broad Street. It took just four days to complete the work and rebuild the highway (see how in this newly updated time-lapse video).

Crews relocated major utility lines beneath SR 99 near Harrison Street that were in the way of portal construction. Additionally, during the weekend portion of the closure, crews took advantage of the empty highway by completing necessary work elsewhere along the corridor.

They replaced 81 concrete panels on SR 99 south of downtown, repaired an expansion joint at the Seneca Street off-ramp from northbound SR 99 and cleared ivy from the Alaskan Way Viaduct to make future maintenance of the structure easier.


2014 Seattle Design Festival Preview

The Seattle Design Festival begins next week and SDOT is thrilled to once again be a part of this exceptional celebration. In fact, this year’s theme, “Design in Motion,” could not be more fitting for SDOT’s involvement!

Design in Motion logo

The Seattle Design Festival is a two-week event that showcases innovations in design and facilitates discussion among design professionals, city leaders and the public. During these two weeks, we will be leading tours and giving presentations focused on cutting-edge approaches to activating public space, and featuring some of Seattle’s most exciting new public space projects. SDOT events to look out for during this year’s festival include:

TOURS  (be sure to RSVP for tours at the links below) –

Active Alleys: Redesigning for People – Saturday September 6, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Parklets by Bike – Saturday September 6, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM

First Hill: Connecting People with Parks – Saturday September 13, Time TBD


Public Space in Motion: Perspectives on Change – Saturday September 13, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM, Seattle Public Library Central

When Tactical Urbanism Grows Up: Managing Public Space in Seattle – Saturday September 13, 2:15 PM – 3:15 PM, Seattle Public Library Central

Shoreline Street Ends: Recapturing Small Spaces – Saturday September 13, 4:15 PM – 5:00 PM, Seattle Public Library Central

Experiential Design by the Shore (an interactive workshop – please RSVP at the link to the left) – Sunday September 14, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, 90th Place NE Shoreline Street End in the Matthews Beach neighborhood.


Then, on September 19, the final day of SDF2014, SDOT will host Seattle’s PARK(ing) Day from 9 AM to 3 PM. PARK(ing) Day is an international event in which people around the world temporarily convert parking spaces into small parks for public enjoyment.

Park(ing) Day image

To get a better idea of what PARK(ing) Day is all about, visit our PARK(ing) Day website. Then, if you’re feeling extra inspired and want to join the fun of PARK(ing) Day, download a free application to tell us about your plans. But hurry, the deadline to submit your application is this Friday, August 29! If instead, you’d just like to check out some or all of what PARK(ing) Day in Seattle has to offer, a map of the planned 2014 PARK(ing) Day pop-up parks will be available here about a week before the event.

We hope to see you at the festival!


Central Area Neighborhood Greenway Open Houses

Please join us at an open house next week to learn more about the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway most promising routes for Phases 2 and 3 (the south and north ends of the greenway, respectively) and share your input. We will review the evaluation criteria of previously studied routes, the most promising route from Rainier Avenue S. to E. Roanoke Street, and some of the design elements that may be applied.

CANG Most Promising Route

This greenway is being developed in close coordination with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project and will provide a bicycle and pedestrian facility off of 23rd Avenue. The modified 23rd Avenue is being designed to improve mobility through the corridor, but it will not include a protected bike lane. People on foot and riding bikes may prefer a calmer route. For those reasons, and to help achieve Seattle’s goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, SDOT is installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway near this busy arterial.

Neighborhood greenways are safer, calm residential streets that provide a more comfortable environment for people to walk, run and bike. Starting with a good foundation (a street with already low car volumes and speeds), small improvements are made that add up to a big difference. Improvements can include adding speed humps, signage, and pavement markings, reducing the speed limit, and making crossings easier by adding curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, medians, or traffic signals at busy intersections.

The project is separated into three phases.

  • Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)
  • Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)
  • Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)

We are completing final design for Phase 1 now and anticipate that its construction will begin this fall. Phases 2 and 3 will begin design this fall and we anticipate construction will begin in summer 2015.

Open House Details

Read more »


Once Around the Web: Safety First!

Summer is winding down (say it ain’t so!) but construction projects still abound around the city. This week, the New York State Department of Transportation released a new public safety announcement video that reminds motorists to slow down in work zones. It’s effective and sad and very worth watching.

“…they’re not just cones.”


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—with just 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 knowledgeable 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 the recent work along Harbor Avenue SW (see photos below). 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. From Southwest Spokane Street to Southwest Florida Street, along Harbor Avenue, the team weeded and cut back plants to improve visibility and added mulch to suppress weed growth.HarborAve

 Above: 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 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, a Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities joint project, is there 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. On August 9, a group of 16 volunteers working at N 46th Street and Aurora Avenue N (pictured below), removed 10 bags of garbage and 5 yards of weeds; freed 4 large conifers from strangling ivy; and laid down fresh mulch.


Volunteers gathered at N 46th St and Aurora Ave N to address maintenance needs


Similar work took place again this past weekend, on August 16, on Beacon Hill at Beacon Avenue S and 15th Avenue S. Want to be part of the equation? Add to the crew and make a winning solution this Saturday, August 23, in Rainier Beach:


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.

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!