What we’ve been up to: Mercer Corridor Project’s Substantial Completion Photo Blog

In August 2015, the West Phase of the Mercer Corridor Project reached substantial completion – meaning all major closures and improvements to the corridor are complete! All that remains is a localized closure on Roy St. and some low-key maintenance items with associated lane closures around the area, including landscaping, striping, and a few repairs. Here are a few of the key improvements throughout the corridor:


New, separated bike lanes and a widened pedestrian walkway were installed along the north side of Mercer St. in addition to a widened sidewalk on the south side. Trees and landscaping provide a buffer from the roadway. Here you can also see the expanded underpass beneath SR 99. The widened span, with elimination of the center columns, brings in more light.



Widened, two-way Mercer St at 5th Ave. N.: there are three lanes of eastbound and westbound traffic as well as updated intersections, crosswalks, and landscaping. Corners at this and all intersections have been updated to provide safe, accessible crossings for all users.



Looking south – the intersection of Dexter Ave. N and Mercer St., showing an updated configuration of traffic lanes, bike lanes, and the pedestrian crosswalk. Signals and signage at this intersection help eliminate conflicts between right-turning traffic and the many pedestrians and bicyclists who cross Mercer at this intersection.



The intersection of 5th Ave. N, Thomas St., and Broad St. has been reconfigured significantly, improving access for pedestrians at this major entrance to Seattle Center, thereby accommodating traffic volumes on Fifth Ave N and Broad Street, and separating pedestrians and delivery vehicles on the Seattle Center campus.

SDOT Seeks Input on Possible Expanded Restrictions for Ship Canal Bridge Openings

open bridge

SDOT owns and operates three bridges spanning the Ship Canal (Ballard, Fremont, and University bridges). WSDOT owns and operates the Montlake Bridge. The operation of these bridges is regulated by the US Coast Guard who authorized SDOT and WSDOT to keep the bridges closed on weekdays at 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM (except for large commercial vessels).

While the number of bridge openings has remained fairly consistent in recent years, the morning and afternoon commute peaks and traffic volumes have grown. With an average bridge opening lasting five minutes, hundreds of cars back up each time. Buses run behind schedule, emergency vehicles at times are delayed, commuters take longer to get to work or back home, and many of those motorists waiting leave their engines running, spewing polluting emissions into the atmosphere.

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.

[Click to enhance] 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.

In response, SDOT is considering a petition to the US Coast Guard to seek a change to current restrictions. We’d propose a one year trial period for whatever expansion they might approve, after which the Coast Guard would decide whether the additional restrictions have produced sufficient benefit to justify making them permanent.

However, before SDOT files any such petition, we’re asking for feedback. Are additional restrictions warranted? If so, what would be reasonable?

We are asking individuals and/or organizations that might wish to share some thoughts to do so by Wednesday, September 30. Please send such comments to our project email address ShipCanalBridgeOpenings@seattle.gov, or send them via US mail to:


Ship Canal Bridge Openings

c/o Roadway Structures

Seattle Department of Transportation

PO Box 34996 (SMT-38-00)

Seattle, WA 98124-4996


For more information, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/shipcanalOpenings.htm

Join us: Vision Zero Vigil and Procession tonight


This Friday evening, we invite you to join the City of Seattle and community partners at the Vision Zero Vigil and Procession. The event serves as a memorial to mark the one-year anniversary of Sher Kung’s death while biking to work on 2nd Ave downtown, and to honor all those who have died or been seriously injured in traffic collisions over the past year.

Beginning at 5 p.m. family members, friends, city leaders, and safe street advocates will gather for a brief speaking program at Benaroya Hall’s Garden of Remembrance at 2nd Ave and University St, located steps from where Ms. Kung passed away. A walking and biking procession down 2nd Ave to from University St to Yesler Way, ending Occidental Park will follow.

The event is part of Vision Zero – Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. We can, must, and will do more to make Seattle’s streets safer for everyone.


We hope to see you there.

Last Call for PARK(ing) Day Applications!

Last Call for PARK(ing) Day Applications!

Here at SDOT we’re all getting excited for PARK(ing) Day 2015, and there are only TWO DAYS until applications are due! All PARK(ing) Day application materials must be received by August 28, so it’s time to start thinking big. This is Seattle’s 9th year participating in PARK(ing) Day, and we’ve extended the hours so more people can join in on the fun! Pop-up parks can be open from 10 AM to 7 PM on Friday, September 18.

PARK(ing) Day is the perfect time to make your dream mini-park a reality. What sort of park do you want to see in Seattle? What types of ideas, topics, mantras, or experiences do you want to bring awareness to? Parks can be spaces for reflection, creativity, and solace from the work environment, and of course, places for play! PARK(ing) Day 2014 was our biggest one yet with over 50 pop-up parks, but we want this year to be even bigger!

So…don’t be afraid to get a little goofy on PARK(ing) Day!

PARKing Days Last Call

Feel free to sit back and relax!

PARKing Days Last Call2

But whatever you do, build, and create for PARK(ing) Day, don’t forget to have fun!

PARKing Days Last Call3

Are you ready? Send your PARK(ing) Day applications to David.Burgesser@seattle.gov by August 28, and show Seattle how wildly a few feet of pavement can transform for a day.

For additional information on PARK(ing) Day guidelines as well as application requirements, visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/seattleparkingday.htm.


Helping contractors and developers be good neighbors

Crane soaring above 5th Avenue and Columbia Street downtown

Crane soaring above construction at 5th Avenue and Columbia Street downtown

Our city is developing at a rapid pace, as most people can tell just walking around Seattle.  There’s no shortage of cranes soaring up into the air or scaffolding erecting up from the ground. The development and population boom is not expected to end anytime soon; and though some say a growing city is better than a dying one, growth challenges remain. To help keep pace with the growth surge and stay ahead of impacts our construction management and coordination approach is changing; with continued improvements that help contractors and developers to be good neighbors in the communities they impact.


We now assess all public and private construction holistically in areas where development is highly concentrated (construction hubs) often leading to pre-construction or on-site changes that significantly improve access. An example is work with a contractor at 2nd and Pike downtown to create better bicycle access. Sellen Construction agreed to modify the construction plan and build a protected 2-way bike path so that cyclists did not have to abruptly merge with motor vehicle traffic or dismount through heavy pedestrian traffic. Modifications like that happen often in hub areas where the city has site coordinators assessing impacts almost daily. We also keep lines of communications open, open, open – meeting regularly with contractors; posting hub area  construction information online.


Bike lane solution at 2nd & Pike downtown

Bike lane solution at 2nd & Pike downtown

The long-term goal is to have consistently prepared permit applicants and well-coordinated construction projects before problems ever have a chance to set in. To get there SDOT is continuing to evolve, working with contractors and developers earlier in the pre-construction phase. We are also providing new tools to identify and reduce potential impacts to surrounding neighborhoods and make it easy to do the right thing. The following improvements are now in place or coming later this month:


  • Construction Management Plan (CMP) template and guide—Now required for projects that significantly impact public right of way; requires plan for entire course of a project for traffic management, noise mitigation, pedestrian circulation, parking, etc..
  • Multiple Site Plan Templates—Available both online and at the counter to support thorough assessment and management of construction use of the right of way.
  • Online permit applications—Fillable PDF forms designed to be more intuitive and interactive.
  • One-on-one Pre-Application Appointments—Now available for complex permit applications.
  • Channelization Sketch Map—Online tool to help permit applicants create Traffic Control Plans; launching August 31, 2015 along with the following elements:
    • Project Summary Correction Notice—Comprehensive early project planning assessment to help identify and resolve problems.
    • Streamlined Permit Applications—Connecting information across multiple permit forms for improved efficiency.
    • Concept-to-completion coordination—Strategy for consistent ROW management.


Our increasingly integrated services are making us more nimble. We are focusing on improved pedestrian access around construction with swift and certain enforcement for bad actors. We are asking more of contractors and developers, but we are giving more in the form of early planning tools and guidance. Best practices and new standards are emerging, but not without support that in the long-run will fuel more efficient building. The benefits of our strategy may take some time to fully emerge, yet we fully expect improvement and are energized to continue.


We want to work together to reduce potential right of way conflicts; streamline permitting; and mitigate community impacts. By engaging consistently and earlier in pre-construction we all become better city stewards—and building Seattle well helps us all.

SDOT is Evaluating over 21,000 Curb Ramps

This past June, SDOT surveyors were sent throughout the City to begin measuring and assessing existing Curb Ramps, about 21,000 of them!

Curb Ramp Inspection1So you ask,”What’s a Curb Ramp?” Curb ramps are located at intersections to facilitate wheelchair, bicycle, and pedestrian street crossings. Curb ramps are sloped areas, typically located on corners at intersections that provide access from the street grade to the sidewalk. The goal of the curb ramp program is to improve access to Seattle’s network of sidewalks and walkways, particularly those for whom mobility is limited.

Curb Ramp Crosswalk

Whether the curb ramps were built last week or 30 years ago, the goal is to gather data on all existing curb ramps to help determine areas that may need improvement sooner rather than later.The City of Seattle is excited to evaluate City programs, activities, and services provided to the public and identify barriers that may prevent access to persons with disabilities. For SDOT, that means sidewalks, street crossings, curb ramps, and any other pedestrian facility available.

SDOT will be measuring many different aspects of curb ramps, including the slope, the width, and other physical traits that may affect accessibility. When the information has been collected, SDOT will be able to analyze ramp conditions all over the City. Being able to review these existing conditions will help SDOT to prioritize curb ramp improvements in the future in collaboration with the Pedestrian Master Plan.

Curb Ramp Inspection4

If you have any questions about the curb ramp evaluation, we encourage you contact SDOT’s Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator,  Michael Shaw. He can be reached at (206) 615-1974 or by email at Michael.Shaw@seattle.gov.


Join Us to Discuss Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements

SDOT appreciates your help last fall when you helped us create a list of potential improvements to Third Avenue. We are inviting you to meet us on the street to hear about design updates and share your thoughts.

Here are the dates, we look forward to seeing and hearing from you:

  • Monday, Aug. 31 – 3-6 p.m. on Third Avenue between Battery & Bell streets
  • Wednesday, Sept. 2  – 3-6 p.m. on Third Avenue between Pike & Union streets
  • Thursday, Sept. 3 – 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Third Avenue between Yesler Way & S Washington Street

Third Avenue is downtown Seattle’s most heavily used transit corridor. More than 2,500 buses travel the corridor every weekday and about 42,000 people board at bus stops on the corridor each day. Thousands of visitors, workers, shoppers and area residents also use Third Avenue daily.

Third Avenue


To help create a positive and inviting environment for transit users and pedestrians, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro Transit are working together to make the corridor an inviting, accommodating, safe and attractive place where people want to be.


The Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements Project will complement and be coordinated with the many other improvement projects underway in the downtown area.

Seattle Department of Transportation: Third Avenue Transit Corridor ImprovementsThe Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements Project is part of a larger plan to create a vibrant, safe and thriving Third Avenue. It will improve transit function and create a more welcoming urban environment along the corridor between Denny and Jackson streets. The project has extended transit priority measures approximately .75 miles north through the Belltown neighborhood.3rAveMap1014

For more information:

SDOT Contacts:


KC Metro Contacts:


Hey there, Need a Bike to get somewhere in town? Yes, Bike Share!

The City of Seattle’s Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program is a partnership that connects employers with resources to provide high quality transportation options to their employees including a bike share program. Whether you’re in need of a quick ride for work or play, bike share stations can be a great way to get to and from where you need to go.

Our Bike Share partner is Pronto Cycle Share which has 500 bikes at 50 stations located across the Seattle. Annual membership of just $85 gives users unlimited 30 minute trips every day of the year. Bike stations are conveniently located near transit hubs and shopping districts. Pronto Cycle Share is a great way to connect transit trips, complete the last mile of a commute, or just explore the hidden gems of the city.

Pronto bikes are designed for comfort and ease. Members also get free use of a Pronto bike helmet. Many businesses offer their employees a discounted membership option.

Bike Share 101:

Bike share allows users to take short trips easily without owning their own bike. The Pronto fleet is made up of heavy-duty, durable bikes found in a network of docking stations generally located about 1,000 feet apart. Bike share systems allow users to control their own travel and are intended to be used for short, quick trips – typically less than 2 miles.

Bike share can help you get around town faster and easier.

Bike share can help you get around town faster and easier.

To ride, users can purchase short-term passes (24-Hour or 3-Day) or Annual Memberships to use the system. 24-Hour or 3-Day Passes may be purchased from any station kiosk using a credit or debit card. Annual Members enroll online and receive a personal key used to quickly unlock bikes from the docks.

Bikes can be returned to any station in the system, creating an efficient network with many possible connection points and combinations of departures and arrivals.

To find out more about Pronto Cycle Share, visit their website, at: prontocycleshare.com

Seattle using data to adjust Parking Rates

SDOT will be making adjustments to on-street parking rates and hours of operation in various parts of the city starting in the First Hill neighborhood this month. SDOT is making the changes to create more open spaces during the daytime and early evening for visitors to the Seattle’s downtown and neighborhood business districts.

First Hill neighborhood

First Hill neighborhood

SDOT’s performance-based Parking Pricing Program started in 2010 when the City Council directed that on-street parking rates be set according to specific data measurements. Our goal is to help people find parking within easy walking distance of their destinations, lessen traffic congestion from drivers circling, and increase access to business. The objective, written into the Seattle Municipal Code, is to set rates so that one to two spaces are open and available on each block throughout the day.


Guided by the recently completed 2015 Annual Paid Parking Study, SDOT will make 22 different rate and other on-street parking management changes in 15 areas. What’s happening:

  • Lower parking rates in five areas
  • Raise parking rates in twelve areas
  • Install new pay stations in eight different rate areas and adjust rates by time of day
  • Extend evening paid parking hours in three areas to 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.
  • Pull back evening paid parking hours in one area to 6 p.m.

Parking Pay Station

Starting the second week of August, the paid parking hours of operation in First Hill will change to 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. The 2015 Annual Paid Parking Study found that street parking occupancy at 7 p.m. was at 99%. This is above the target occupancy range set in the Seattle Municipal Code to keep one to two spaces open and available per block.

SDOT is installing informational signs and orange flags at the pay stations to alert everyone of parking changes on the block.

For more information please contact: DOT_Paystations@seattle.gov.


SDOT’s 5 Tools for the Traveler

WalkandBusGetting around Seattle can be challenging, especially with all the changes and growth happening in the city. To help keep track of it all, SDOT has compiled 5 Tools to help travelers in the Seattle area whenever you’re on the go.

In no particular order, SDOT recommends:

1. Time

All modes of transportation however reliable can be affected by unexpected service interruptions. A bus may be delayed because of congestion from collisions or events happening in the area. Give yourself some extra travel time if possible, so you can to adjust to unexpected situations.

2. Maps  

Regardless of how you’re traveling, plotting out your trip out in advance can allow for alternatives routes if your primary plan gets interrupted. We suggest this SDOT Pedestrian Map that shows the grade of sidewalk so you can exercise as much or as little as you want. For bus routes, the Metro Bus Map shows route lines and where to catch them.

3. Twitter, SDOT’s On the Move Blog and Facebook

For near real-time updates about events, traffic, and road closures, you can follow SDOT on Twitter to help plan your trip. You can also go to SDOT’s On the Move Blog for the latest events advisories and construction updates, you can also visit our Facebook page for all things SDOT.

4. One Bus Away and Transit App

If you have a smartphone, the applications One Bus Away and Transit App are useful for bussing in, around and out of Seattle. One Bus Away is a great resource to see bus arrivals, nearby stops, and maps. Transit App helps users plan trips using bus routes and includes trip times and transfers.

5. Way to Go Program  

Seattle offers many ways to get around—the Way to Go program provides the user tools in one succinct place, whether using trains, biking, and many more. It also includes safety tips and information on transit fares in and around Seattle.

For more information and resources for traveling around the Seattle area, please visit SDOT’s Pedestrian and Bus user pages. Good luck!