How do the Fremont and Ballard Bridge Openings work? (Updated)

Here’s an updated and shortened Blog Video of our behind-the-scenes look at the Fremont and Ballard Bridge openings, and how they work:

(Click on HD in Settings to view in High Definition)


SDOT operates and maintains over 149 bridges throughout Seattle, including four movable bridges. Three of SDOT’s movable bridges are draw bridges, known as bascule bridges. These are the Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge and University Bridge.

The city is required to open the bridges to marine traffic when requested, but is allowed to restrict boat and marine traffic openings during the morning
(7-9 a.m.) and afternoon (4-6 p.m.) commutes on weekdays (except national holidays). The openings average about four minutes, from stopping traffic to letting traffic resume. SDOT appreciates the public’s patience during the openings as marine traffic passes through.

The Ballard Bridge, located at the west end of the Lake Washington Ship Canal at Salmon Bay, is the fourth and last of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridges to be passed before entering Puget Sound from Lake Washington. Built in 1917 with a length of 2,854 feet, the Ballard Bridge links the Magnolia and Queen Anne neighborhoods with Ballard.

The Fremont Bridge crosses the Lake Washington Ship Canal and connects the Fremont and Queen Anne neighborhoods. The bridge opened on July 4, 1917, it is the only blue and orange bridge operated by SDOT. The Fremont Bridge’s current color was chosen by a 1985 poll taken among Fremont residents and the Fremont Arts Council.

The Fremont Bridge also connects the Lake Washington Ship Canal Trail to the Burke Gilman Trail and has one of Seattle’s nine bike counters (here’s our previous blog about the Fremont Bridge Bike Counter and how it works). The Fremont Bridge has celebrated over 610,000 openings and counting as of January 2016. The bridge sits just 30 feet above the water, and rises for marine traffic on average of about 35 times a day, making it as one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world.

Here’s a link to our SDOT Bridges page:

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Join the Street Scrabble Tournament on Capitol Hill, Wed. 9/28, 1-3pm

Seattle is hosting NACTO (National Association of Transportation Officials) Designing Cities Conference this week.

Join the Street Scrabble Tournament

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 1 – 3 PM,
Where: Denny Way at Broadway in Capitol Hill

Street Scrabble!

Street Scrabble!

To sign up for the tournament, e-mail: or go to the NACTO walkshop registration booth

Come play or watch a life-size Scrabble game on Wednesday from 1-3 pm in Capitol Hill! Learn more about Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) Public Space Management program and how this future Festival Street will help activate the new Capitol Hill light rail plaza space.

How will the tournament work? Scrabble participants will be determined by lottery. We will draw 16 participants from a “hat” at the event and pair them up into teams. Each game will be 30 minutes. The tournament will have a referee and scorekeeper, and is a single elimination format.

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City Officially Opens Westlake Protected Bike Lane

The Westlake protected bike lane on the west side of Lake Union is now officially open, connecting the Fremont Bridge and surrounding trails and parks to South Lake Union and downtown. Driven by an extensive community input process, the completed project addresses the pedestrian, bike and vehicular conflicts the corridor’s undefined parking and sidewalk space created.

People biking now have a separate space to ride, making the area safer and more comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. The project also improves safety for all users by featuring a pedestrian path for people walking that is separate from the bicycle lanes. The designated space for people biking also makes the parking lot more predictable for drivers, which makes this scenic corridor more accessible for residents, employees and customers.

“Our goal is to provide safe, reliable, and predictable transportation infrastructure that connects people to homes, jobs, and recreation,” said Mayor Murray. “We heard from local businesses and residents that preserving public parking was a key priority to maintain economic opportunity. I’m happy to say we were able to build a protected
bike lane, improve pedestrian crossings, and preserve 90% of the original parking. I’m proud of the work the community and the City has done to make today a reality.”

The opening celebration on September 15 featured speakers, giveaways, snacks, games and a ride-along led by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly.

“The Westlake protected bike lane makes everyone’s trip along the corridor safer and more predictable,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “My thanks to the Design Advisory Committee for its critical work on this important safety project.”

The Westlake protected bike lane project began in fall 2013 and attracted hundreds of attendees to project open houses and community meetings. Project design was overseen by a Design Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of local businesses, residents, freight, and the bicycle and pedestrian communities. With this community input built into the design, the Westlake protected bike lane creates a safer, more comfortable corridor for people walking, biking, and driving while preserving approximately 90 percent of the parking. The City thanks the Westlake community’s residents, businesses, customers and commuters for their patience throughout the completion of this project.

Visit the Westlake protected bike lane project web page for more information at

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Get Ready for Holiday Construction Moratorium

With so much construction going on in Seattle, how do we keep downtown streets open and welcoming for holiday festivities and shoppers?

Downtown Deer Decorations

With the Holiday Construction Moratorium! This seasonal ban on construction supports Seattle businesses during the peak shopping season and reduces traffic congestion during this busy time of year. The Holiday Moratorium runs from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day, November 24, 2016 to January 1, 2017.

During the moratorium, most construction which impacts the right-of-way (streets and sidewalks) will be prohibited in the Central Retail Shopping District or Pioneer Square District (see map below). Construction outside the moratorium zones may also be restricted if work would have a significant impact on the traveling public.


Over the next ten weeks, Seattle’s downtown construction projects will be working to wrap up their building season to clear the right-of-way before the holiday season begins.

Limited exceptions to the moratorium may be made for projects that do not impede the right of way, or are brief and quiet enough to be done during nighttime hours. If you plan to submit an exception request, start now – all exception requests must be received by SDOT Street Use by October 24, 2016.

No late exception requests will be granted unless emergency work is necessary for protection of public health and safety.

If a short term exception is granted, right-of-way-impacting work may begin 30 minutes after close of neighboring businesses and the City’s right of way must be cleared and restored by 6 AM the following business day. Other rules apply. For more details see Client Assistance Memo 2107: Holiday Construction Moratorium.


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City Offices are closed Monday, September 5 for the Labor Day Holiday

The Seattle Department of Transportation is closed Monday in observance of Labor Day. On-street parking is free in Seattle on Monday for the holiday. We wish everyone a safe and happy Labor Day holiday weekend.








Q: When did it become a national holiday and why?

A: Labor Day as a national, legal holiday had an interesting evolution. The legalized celebration of Labor Day began as individual state celebrations. In 1887, New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to approve state legal holidays. Then other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days. Finally, in response to a groundswell of support for a national holiday celebrating the nation’s workers, Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to the 53rd Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the first Monday of September each year. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

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Photo Contest for Updated Street Design Manual

What’s your favorite Seattle street? Is it 2nd Ave downtown because of the protected bike lanes? Ravenna Blvd because of the dense tree canopy? We’re holding a photo contest where you can share your favorite street, and win up to $300 in prizes!

2nd ave

The contest is being held to celebrate the release of the updated Right-of-Way Improvements Manual (also known by its new name, Streets Illustrated). This manual is a design guide for improvements made to city streets. It will include street typologies, guidelines, and standards for street elements – such as sidewalk width, travel lane width, crosswalk design, bike infrastructure, street trees, landscaping, and street furniture. It also highlights opportunities for street art, parklets, streateries and more! Standards for these elements are tailored depending on street type. For example, a downtown street has different street elements and standards than an industrial access street, or a neighborhood curbless street.


As you travel the city for your daily activities, think about the diverse character of Seattle streets, and which streets you like best. Don’t forget to take a picture and share!


Contest Details:

  • Start date: Aug 22
  • End date: last submissions taken on Sep 19 at 5pm
  • Enter by posting the photo to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the tag #StreetsIllustratedSEA (alternatively, send it in an email to
  • Label the street and tell us why you love it!
  • The top 12 photos will all receive prizes and be featured in our inaugural Streets Illustrated Calendar.
  • Grand prize of $300 to Glazer’s Camera Store, 2nd place prize of $100 and 3rd place prize of $50.

Visit the contest’s official webpage for more details:


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Neighborhood Street Fund Concepts Completed

Streets, sidewalks, and everything in between are about to get improvements as part of our Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) program!

This U-District proposal called for adding lights, a bike rack, and other improvements to turn this alley off 42nd into a common space for the community.

This U-District proposal called for adding lights, a bike rack, and other improvements to turn this alley off 42nd into a common space for the community.

Communities came together to come up with areas for improvement, decided which projects to prioritize through their Neighborhood District Councils, and sent us their top choices in May. Now, after reading proposals, visiting locations, and reviewing the data, we’ve finished turning those ideas into 65 conceptual designs which could help with safety, accessibility, livability, and more.

This Rainier Valley proposal called for building sidewalks and street calming improvements near S Charleston Street to improve safety for kids walking to school.

This Rainier Valley proposal called for building sidewalks and street calming improvements near S Charlestown Street to improve safety for kids walking to school.

The Neighborhood District Councils will now have chance to read the designs and rank their priority, before sending them to the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee for review later this fall. The list of funded projects is expected by the end of October. Projects will be finalized in 2017 and constructed in 2018. Public engagement for each project will begin once the project list is finalized. We look forward to working with you!

This West Seattle proposal called for traffic calming with curb bulbs, pedestrian signals, and a new marked crosswalk to make the SW Oregon and 39th intersection safer.

This West Seattle proposal called for traffic calming with curb bulbs, pedestrian signals, and a new marked crosswalk to make the SW Oregon and 39th intersection safer.

The NSF Program is funded by the Levy to Move Seattle. The 9-year, $930 million levy provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city. The levy includes $24 million to continue the Neighborhood Street Fund program over the next 9 years.



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Great Turnout in Magnolia to Talk About Interbay Trail Connections

popup event

SDOT staffer Jason Fialkoff talks with residents about the proposed streets in Magnolia and Interbay that are part of the Interbay Trail Connections project.

We heard from more than 30 people at a ‘pop up’ event in Magnolia last Saturday to talk about two-way protected bike lanes that could connect Magnolia, Interbay and Ballard as part of the Interbay Trail Connections project. SDOT staff was there with a tent, table, and maps to connect with people who live, work, and travel in the area.

The weather was sunny and warm and there were dozens of people on bikes going up and down Gilman Ave W as we talked with neighbors about the proposal and heard feedback.

Some people let us know that they were concerned about street safety where families ride bikes next to parked cars. Others were excited about a protected bikeway that will directly link them from the Ship Canal Trail to the Elliot Bay Trail. They talked about using the connection to get from Magnolia to work in South Lake Union, and to Myrtle Edwards Park and downtown for a fun weekend ride.


Interbay Trail Connections Project Area Map

In addition to traditional community presentations and public meetings, we’re trying out pop-up events on the street where people can drop-in anytime, and online open houses and surveys so people who can’t make it to the event can still learn about our projects and weigh-in. So if you see a tent and signs in your neighborhood, please stop by and have a conversation about transportation with us!

To learn more about Interbay Trail Connections, visit the project website or contact Dan Anderson at 206-684-8105 or

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Commuting During Summer Construction


Construction site in Seattle.

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation right now, which means more construction projects, cars, and crowds as we share our streets with people on everything from zero to sixteen wheels.

Summer is a great time to try an alternate commute method, such as biking or taking the bus, but it’s also peak season for road and sidewalk maintenance. The rainy season can cause delays and difficulty on construction and repairs, so projects are trying to complete work while the sun is still shining.

All this can make commuting tricky, but we’re here to help.



Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Intern Ahlaam Ibraahim at a recent Vision Zero event.

Our Vision Zero team is hard at work to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through educational outreach like the above event, and coordinating enforcement of traffic safety laws with the Seattle Police Department. Our Levy to Move team is implementing the taxpayer approved $930 million 9 year plan to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city.

And, through our All Aboard partnership with King County Metro, we’re improving or expanding 85% of the bus routes in Seattle.

We’re working hard to make it easier to get around Seattle, but it’s likely you won’t be able to avoid work zones completely as our city continues to grow.

Please be patient and cautious around construction, and remember, your fellow travelers – whether they be in cars, on bikes or buses – are also navigating the same obstacles.

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New Opportunity in Open-Air Dining

In Seattle, we love our summers and the chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Eating is no exception, and we have hundreds of sidewalk cafes throughout our city. To help these sidewalk cafes proliferate, and make the process easier, we’re piloting a new design for sidewalk cafes.

Thanks to a recent change by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, restaurants can now outline permitted sidewalk cafes with pavement markers instead of the standard 42-inch high fences. Modeled on the sidewalk seating used in many European cities, this fence-free option will allow Seattle restaurants to integrate their sidewalk cafes with adjacent public space and improve customer movement. Other U.S. cities, such as Portland and San Francisco already allow fence-free sidewalk cafes similar to those that will be tested in Seattle’s pilot program.


San Francisco sidewalk café. Source: Map data ©2016 Google

San Francisco sidewalk cafe. Source: Map data ©2016 Google

We will work with participants to install pavement markers on the sidewalk to outline the boundary of the cafe, as shown in the diagram below. Through this pilot permit, we will test the viability of a fence-free sidewalk cafe with applicants who are willing to provide feedback during our evaluation. Although the fence-free sidewalk cafes are intended to activate streets, create more vibrant neighborhoods, and support economic vitality, ultimately SDOT is committed to ensuring that our streets and sidewalks serve the traveling public. As such, City staff will pay particular attention to any negative impacts on pedestrian mobility and safety that may arise during the pilot phase.

cafe marker


Are you a restaurant owner curious about what this would look like for your business? Review our fact sheet and keep an eye on our webpage for additional information as the pilot progresses. Feel free to reach out to us with questions or interest in participating: 206-733-9707 or

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