City Offices are Closed Presidents’ Day

In observance of Presidents’ Day, City of Seattle offices are closed on Monday February 20th in observance of the federal holiday.

On-street parking is free in Seattle on February 20th, Happy Presidents’ Day!

Mount Rushmore

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government.

Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

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Connecting the DOTs

While many of the new President’s cabinet nominees have garnered days of media coverage, a few have flown under the radar. This includes the newly confirmed Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, who could impact SDOT’s work.

Secretary Elaine Chao

The new administration is also proposing a $1 trillion infrastructure package, which if passed, could support needed repairs to roads, bridges, ports, and airports around the country including Seattle. However, no specific legislation has been introduced to date.

Some of the SDOT projects that benefit from federal money include:

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Westlake Protected Bike Lane opened in fall 2016.

Secretary Chao is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a cabinet position and has been in public service for many years, including Deputy Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush.

We will continue to provide updates on transportation news in the other Washington that may affect our Washington.

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Lending a Hand to Portland

On January 11, 2017, Portland was hit with a massive snowstorm, making national headlines. So we sent crews to help out the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It was hard work, but our crews say they’ll never forget the trip to help our friends to the south.

Our Maintenance Operations Division sent more than a dozen crew members and several pieces of equipment.

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Over two days, our crews helped to clear ice and snow from roadways, as well as fallen trees, some of which landed on top of cars, throughout the entire city of Portland.

Our crew takes a break on the way home from Portland.

Our crew takes a break on the way home from Portland.

When our crews came back home to Seattle, they received this thank you letter from the City of Portland to the City of Seattle.

Portland Thank You letter

We are happy to have assisted the City of Portland and its residents and we look forward to our continued collaboration throughout all weather conditions.

Our crews prepare for wintry weather all year round. Check out our Winter Weather page to see our readiness plan, tips on preparing for cold weather, and the always useful winter weather map.

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More than 70% of Downtown Seattle Commuters Choosing Not to Drive Alone

A new Commute Seattle survey shows that more than 70 percent of downtown’s estimated 247,000 daily commuters opt for transit, ridesharing, biking, walking and teleworking – leaving less than 30 percent of commuters to drive alone to work. CS survey graphic 2-9-17

That continues a strong downward trend in solo driving from 35% in 2010 to 31% in 2014.

Commute Seattle 1Employers see the value of a good transportation system. Downtown employers have invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits. Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95% of the increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.
Commute Seattle 4
In addition to private sector investment, voter-approved initiatives TransitNow, Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), and the Levy to Move Seattle have provided funding for new transportation options for downtown commuters. These include City of Seattle and Metro coordinated service expansion of the RapidRide C and D lines, and implementing the 2nd Avenue and Westlake protected bike lanes, which enhance safety and bike capacity to and through downtown.

These results fulfill a 10-year goal to reduce the downtown Seattle peak commute drive-alone rate to 30%, accomplished by Commute Seattle at the direction of the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA)—a public-private partnership comprised of the Downtown Seattle Association, the City of Seattle (SDOT & OPCD), King County Metro and Sound Transit.

 

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We got snow! Here’s what we did

In preparation for the Snow event on Monday February 6, we put our response crews on 12-hour shifts, that began on Sunday evening. Our trucks started treating streets and elevated structures. By the time you woke up on Monday to find out kids had a snow day, here’s what SDOT crews had already done.

Snow 2-7-17

Early morning Monday:

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Pine Street

  • Mayor Murray visited SDOT Charles Street Maintenance facility to chat with local media and Maintenance Division Director Rodney Maxie about our Winter response.
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Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Maintenance Operations Division Director Rodney Maxie with media.

  • Crews treated elevated structures and overpasses with salt.
  • SDOT hand crews treated pedestrian routes.
  • Our Incident Response Teams responded to traffic incidents.
  • SDOT tree crews cleared downed trees and branches obstructing streets, such as W Mercer Place.
Tree down

Tree down at W Mercer Place east of Elliot Ave

By Midday:

  • SDOT crews continued to patrolling snow and ice routes, plowing and treating as needed.
  • SDOT tree crews continue to respond to downed trees in the right of way.
  • We replenished our materials in preparation for the evening.

Evening:

  • Gold & Emerald routes were mostly bare and wet going into the PM commute.
  • Protected Bike Lanes were also clear.

Monday overnight into Tuesday:

  • 30 trucks worked overnight treating the Gold and Emerald priority routes for the Tuesday morning commute.

Good job team! Safe Travels Everyone!

Check out our Winter Weather Home page that has lots of useful information that can help you prepare before snow falls next time.

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Van Hailin’

Every year, thousands of Seattle commuters get to work using a van or carpool. Not driving single occupancy vehicles helps reduce congestion and carbon emissions – as well as being a convenient way to save on commuting costs.

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But, the fee for a Vanpool parking permit hasn’t been updated in over 20 years, and has not kept up with rising costs for carpool parking or administering the program. To align these costs, and ensure the financial viability of the Vanpool program, the Seattle City Council approved a schedule for permit fee increases over the next three years.

So, is the price going up? Yes. Are Vanpool on-street parking permits still significantly cheaper than carpool or private parking? Absolutely!

Here’s the permit fee increase schedule for on-street Vanpool parking:

 

Location 2017 fee per month 2018 fee per month 2019 fee per month
Central Business District (CBD) $66.67 $133.33 $200
Non-CBD $33.33 $66.67 $100

 

We understand this represents a cost increase for Vanpool commuters, but it is important to note that Vanpool parking rates have not kept up as carpool and private parking fees increased significantly.

For a 5-person vanpool in the CBD, a rider’s parking cost in 2017 will increase from $0.33 per month to $13.33 per month. In 2019, each rider would pay $40 per month. In contrast, for a 2-person carpool in the CBD, each rider today pays $100 per month. And for a 5-person Vanpool parking off street in private lots or garages, which most do, fees are currently $300-$400 per month, or $60-80 per month per person.

It’s also important to note that 5 people is just the minimum required for a Vanpool. If you filled a Vanpool to capacity at 15 people, the permit fee per person would be just $4.44 in 2017, or $13.33 in 2019!

Of the over 800 Vanpools currently in use in Seattle, the vast majority park off-street in private lots or garages, and only about 70 park on-street and will be impacted by this fee increase.

We remain committed to Vanpooling, as well as other forms of shared transportation and transit. As our city grows, it’s increasingly important alternative forms of commuting are easy and attractive. To join a Vanpool, or start your own, check out the King County Metro page.

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Parking Changes Coming to Capitol Hill Pike-Pine Corridor

There’s more demand than ever for parking near businesses and restaurants in Capitol Hill.  To improve parking availability and turnover, we are expanding the existing paid parking along Pike-Pine east to 15th Avenue.  Hours and rates will match existing paid parking along 12th Avenue and to the west.  These changes will be installed starting in the middle of this month.

pike-pine-parking

While parking on these streets is free and limited to 2 hours, SDOT studies show that parking is full as early as 9 AM, remains over 90% full for most of the day, and that most vehicles stay longer than the posted time limit. This makes it extremely challenging for customers and visitors to find available on-street parking. These study results contrast with the adjacent paid parking area which, while well utilized, generally has parking available until 6 PM.

To provide more predictable, consistent parking regulations, we are also relocating Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) 4 parking from commercial blocks to residential blocks.  Finally, in areas that are already No Parking at the corners for intersection visibility, we will  add on-street bike corrals.

Get more information and background on parking changes here.

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Resolve to Reduce Speeds

New Years resolutions are as easy to break as they are to make, but for 2017, Seattle is keeping our commitment to Vision Zero and eliminating traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2030.

At the end of 2016, we announced multiple speed limit changes to help keep everyone safe, and new signs are being deployed throughout the city.

  • Arterials in central Seattle (blue on the map below) were reduced to 25 mph.
  • Non-arterials (a.k.a. residential street) speed limit were reduced to 20 mph everywhere in the city.
  • Delridge Way SW was reduced to 30 between SW Henderson Street and the West Seattle Bridge.

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Speed matters, and slowing down saves lives, especially for people walking and biking.

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In 2017, we’ll be examining the impact of these changes on traffic and collisions, educating the public on new laws, and evaluating additional arterials that could benefit from speed reductions.

Be on the lookout for new signs and speed limits, and remember that unless otherwise posted all arterials are now 25 mph, and all residential streets are now 20 mph.

 

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Ramp Up Seattle

Every year, SDOT builds or replaces 500-1,000 curb ramps to increase access for people using our sidewalks and crosswalks, especially those with wheelchairs or other mobility devices. In late 2016, we held a public meeting and online survey to gather feedback on where ramps are needed most and how they could be improved.

Curb ramp construction in 2016

Curb ramp construction in 2016

Hundreds of Seattle residents gave input on curb ramps, including many living with disabilities, and we are working to incorporate their feedback into future curb ramp construction plans.

  • Participants felt that prioritizing curb ramp improvements serving transit facilities, medical facilities, and public buildings (schools, libraries, community centers, etc.) are most important.
  • The alignment of the curb ramps and the crosswalk is very important to most participants.
  • The collection of water and debris at the bottom of curb ramps is a concern to many.
  • Most participants were not aware that specific curb ramp improvement requests can be made on the SDOT website.
  • Exclusive of curb ramps, many of the participants feel that addressing areas in Seattle where sidewalks are missing should be the highest priority for improvement.
Public meeting at the Center Park Community Room

Public meeting at the Center Park Community Room

Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences online or at joined our November 1 meeting at the Center Park Community Room!

Check out the current map of traffic safety features, including curb ramp locations and conditions, here.

If you have any questions about accessibility within the Seattle public right-of-way, we encourage you contact SDOT’s ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw. He can be reached at (206) 615-1974 or by email at Michael.Shaw@seattle.gov.

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Street Use Permits Permit Changes

SDOT’s Street Use team reviews, issues, and inspects up to 35,000 permitted right-of-way uses each year, and continues to improve services with updates to regulations, fees, and hours.

PORR to ROWORR and More 2017 Street Use Changes

The Pavement Opening and Restoration Rule (PORR), is now the Right-Of-Way Opening and Restoration Rule (ROWORR). The change expands the scope of the rule beyond street pavement to public right-of-way areas. The updated regulations and requirements include:utilsblocksidewalk

  • Increasing the pavement opening moratorium from 3 to 5 years
  • A sliding scale for restoration requirements, based around the street’s condition
  • More guidance on ADA accessibility ROW requirements, including ADA-compliant curb ramps
  • A wider scope that better includes Green Storm Infrastructure
  • Shorter timeframes for permanent restoration projects
  • Making it more cost-effective for groups to coordinate projects, while increasing costs for groups that fail to coordinate

For additional details on the upcoming changes for ROWORR, please reference the Right-of-Way Opening and Restoration Manual, available in PDF form at: www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/ROWORR_Manual.pdf

New Fee Structure

Our hourly review and inspection rate fee is now $209, up from $196.  However, some fee decreases are also now in effect, for 2017. feeschedulefactsheetFor example, occupancy fees for installing or removing public art are now $138, down from $146. Miscellaneous private temporary right-of-way use is decreasing to $146, from $305. And, for street and alley paving under 750 sq. ft. we are eliminating use fees including transit-related infrastructure, but not utility installation.

For more details on these changes, please contact Street Use Operations Manager Liz Sheldon at elizabeth.sheldon@seattle.gov or read our 2017 Fee Schedule Fact Sheet.

 

New Counter Hours

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Starting in 2017, permit services hours are:

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 8 AM to 5 PM
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 10:30 AM to 5 PM

The change comes after reviewing our customers’ needs and priorities. An increasingly high number of permit applicants submit their applications electronically, which requires a higher number of our permit reviewers to be behind a computer. By adjusting our hours, we can expand our team’s capacity to process permits.

The new hours also align with Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections’ (SDCI) permit counter service hours; the change helps streamline permit processing for larger projects involving both departments.

Happy New Year!

 

 

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