HALA for Transit Improvements

As we begin the new year, we continue our efforts to make Seattle an affordable and vibrant city for all its residents, including conversations and adjustments to the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

On January 10, 2017, we attended a neighborhood HALA meeting at Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill. One hundred people came, and we were there to answer questions about city parking policies and the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Madison street BRT will provide enhanced public transportation between First Avenue downtown and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

We will continue to participate in citywide conversations around HALA and joining people in their communities for scheduled meetings to make giving feedback more accessible. We are using technology to gather input on HALA objectives, such as keeping our communities affordable and accessible.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

The Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to achieving this objective by improving safety for all travelers, maintaining our streets and bridges, and investment in reliable, affordable transit options for our growing City. The meetings serve as an opportunity to learn about resulting transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood while providing us with your knowledge of our city.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

The next meeting, on February 4, 2017, will provide another opportunity to learn more about HALA and transportation issues in southeast Seattle communities. We will be there to discuss a Parking Management Proposal for changes to parking in and around Columbia City.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle HALA page.

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Move Seattle Wins in ST3

Voters in the Puget Sound region recently approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3), the $54 billion plan to fund light rail, commuter trains and bus-rapid transit.

While most of the attention was focused on 62 miles of light rail that will be added to our growing network (Seattle to Ballard and West Seattle), there are some early wins in the plan for the Levy to Move Seattle.

The approved funding package includes $65 million to improve speed and reliability of existing transit service in Seattle. $35 million will be dedicated to improving Seattle’s Rapid Ride C and D Lines. SDOT will work closely with Metro and Sound Transit to construct roadway, traffic signal and other improvements to both of these high ridership corridors.

The remaining $30 million of the funding will provide critical matching funds for the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project, another Move Seattle commitment and one of the seven future Rapid Ride corridors that will be constructed during the life of the 9-year levy.st3

ST3 also includes funding for a new light rail station at Graham Street in Southeast Seattle. The Levy to Move Seattle included $10 million to help build this important station and passage of the ST3 package will make this a reality for residents and commuters in this neighborhood. Additionally, ST3 includes funding for a station at 130th to improve light rail access in North Seattle.st3-2

ST3 also includes several million dollars for improved station access at our existing light rail stations to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. SDOT will be working with Sound Transit to identify and construct these projects and we will keep you updated as the planning for ST3 work progresses.

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Remembering Those We’ve Lost

This week, Seattle is observing World Remembrance Day and commemorating the 240 people who died in traffic incidents over the past 10 years. On Thursday, families who have lost loved ones, city employees, and first responders gathered at City Hall at an event organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways for a public memorial with silhouette cut-outs to represent those we’ve lost.

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SDOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Jim Curtin speaking at City Hall memorial 11/17

This Sunday, November 20, local Greenways coalition member groups will hold events throughout the city to install the silhouettes as a public reminder, and come together as a community to commit to doing better:

  • Ballard/Aurora/Fremont noon Peddler Brewing Company 1514 NW Leary Way
  • Beacon Hill/Mt. Baker 10AM The Station 2533 16th Ave S
  • Central/Capitol Hill noon Victrola Coffee Roasters 310 E. Pike St.
  • Crown Hill/Broadview noon Holy Grounds 9000 Holman Way NW
  • Downtown/Belltown 10AM Uptown Espresso 2504 4th Ave
  • Lake City/Northgate 10AM Kaffeeklatsch 12513 Lake City Way NE
  • Queen Anne/Magnolia 10AM Starbucks 2135 Queen Anne Ave N
  • Ravenna/Roosevelt 10AM Third Place Cafe 6504 20th Ave NE
  • West Seattle 10AM Ampersand Café 2536 Alki Ave SW
  • Rainier Valley 10:15AM Bike Works 3711 S Hudson St. (back entrance to warehouse)
  • Duwamish Valley noon Oxbow Park (Hat & Boots) 6430 Corson Ave S

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As a city, we’ve committed to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through our Vision Zero initiative. These tragedies mostly aren’t “accidents,” but preventable incidents caused by poor behaviors and unforgiving roadway designs.

Earlier this month, we instituted lower speed limits – arterials in central Seattle were reduced from 30mph to 25, residential streets throughout the city from 25mph to 20 – an adjustment proven to increase crash survival rates. And over the last year, we’ve made significant investments in our Safe Routes to School program to make it easier and safer for students to walk and bike. These efforts were funded through the 2015 voter approved Levy to Move Seattle, which has supported safety and infrastructure improvements throughout the city.

By working with community groups, health-care professionals, university researchers, and local corporate partners, we can eliminate death and serious injuries on our streets.

 

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Neighborhood Street Fund Projects Selected!

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Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT recently announced 12 new projects that will be constructed through the Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) program. Utilizing funds from the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle, the city will invest $6.5 million over the next three years in these new projects:

  1. N 40 St and Bagley Ave N Pedestrian Improvements
  2. Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements
  3. Aurora Ave N Corridor Improvements: N 85 St to N 105 St
  4. John & Thomas Corridor Crossing Improvements
  5. NE 70 St and I-5 Walking and Biking Improvements
  6. 15th Ave S and S Columbian Way Intersection Revision
  7. S Jackson St Corridor Improvements
  8. Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements
  9. Improved connections to Freeway Park
  10. Holman Rd and 13th Ave NW Signal
  11. Bailey Gatzert Elementary Pedestrian Improvements
  12. Hawthorne Elementary & S Genesee St Safer Community Pedestrian Connections

Residents of Seattle’s neighborhoods proposed over 100 projects, which were reviewed by the city’s 13 district councils and ultimately vetted by the citizen-driven Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee.

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The Neighborhood Street Fund Program provides $26 million over the course 9-year levy to neighborhood projects to improve safety, mobility and access. The program is on a three-year cycle allowing neighborhoods to build larger projects with greater impacts on walking and biking. Works selected in 2016 will be designed in 2017 and constructed in 2018.

We look forward to working with the home communities of these projects for design input to build the best projects for these neighborhoods. Look for us early in 2017!

For more information on the Levy to Move Seattle or to learn more about the Neighborhood Street Fund for Large Projects, click here.

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Move Seattle Trees: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!

You may remember that back in July we told you that SDOT would be doing a large majority of our tree planting this fall. The darker mornings and rain on our windshields can only mean one thing: it’s time to plant some trees.

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SDOT crews were in West Seattle last week in the 9000-9200 blocks of 13th Ave SW, 14th Ave SW, 15th Ave SW planting about 25 new trees in the neighborhood. Once in the ground and supported with stakes, trees are good for the entire winter. Our crews will visit the trees next spring and put bags at the base of the tree to make sure they stay well-hydrated throughout the summer.

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Approved by voters in 2015, the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle also requires SDOT to replace every tree removed with two new trees. So far, SDOT has already planted 84 new trees like this one above – a dawn redwood. Residents can look forward to greener streetscapes and anyone traveling through Seattle will be able to breathe a little easier thanks to the many benefits our urban canopy provides.

 

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Levy to Move Seattle Dashboard Delivers Transparency and Accountability

The $930 million Levy to Move Seattle approved by Seattle’s voters last November brought much needed funding for congestion relief, transportation-related safety improvements, and maintenance and repair of Seattle’s roads and bridges.  It also brought an expectation that SDOT would provide ongoing transparency and accountability for how these funds are spent and that promises made in the levy would be kept.

The Levy to Move Seattle dashboard, which went online in August, does this by tracking over 40 levy accomplishments and outcome-based performance measures.

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Snapshot of the Move Seattle Dashboard.

For example, the dashboard shows that the Levy has funded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) projects at 8 Seattle public schools so far, with a goal of 81 public school SRTS projects to be funded by the year 2025.

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New levy-funded paved trail on Beacon Hill that gives kids a safer place to walk and bike to and from Mercer Middle School.

The viewer can dive into the interactive website and assess ongoing progress, find out if promised deliverables are still on track, easily connect to other related websites, and read narratives about specific aspects of the levy.

The Levy to Move Seattle dashboard is updated quarterly. Check out the dashboard right here!

 

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Healthier and Safer Street Trees

Starting this year and continuing through 2024, SDOT will significantly improve the health and safety of Seattle’s street trees.

Our Urban Forestry staff will have better information on the City’s street trees using a new street tree app and more staff dedicated to proactively prune and replace trees, thanks to increased funding from the Move Seattle Levy.

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SDOT’s Tree Collection app

SDOT is responsible for more than 40,000 city street trees and oversees approximately 250,000 street trees maintained by adjacent property owners. Using our efficient street tree app and lots of help from volunteers and interns, SDOT is striving to update the inventory of all street trees in the City over the nine years of the Move Seattle Levy. This vital knowledge will help us make better decisions on managing our urban forest.

The addition of new urban forestry crew members will allow us to continue to respond to urgent needs and requests, while increasing our level of proactive maintenance.  Over the nine years of the Levy, we will prune every street tree—many of them more than once!

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An Urban Forestry crew member taking care of a city street tree.

We will improve our ability to increase forest diversity, plant the right trees in the right place, where they provide the most benefit. We will even be able to track how we distribute our resources so the benefits of our street trees are more equitable throughout all Seattle neighborhoods.

All these improvements will increase the health of our trees, the safety of our streets and the shared benefits of the urban forest along Seattle’s streets.

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Early Grant Wins for the Levy to Move Seattle

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You don’t see that everyday – three paving trucks working side-by-side-by-side on an SDOT project.

You would be forgiven if you looked at the calendar and were surprised that it is already mid-September. The year has been moving fast. Fortunately, SDOT’s grant development program has been keeping up with this breakneck pace and accomplished several early key wins by submitting a record-breaking number of grant applications.

For a bit of context, the first half of even-numbered years are typically the busiest season for transportation grants. But even reviewing historical trends doesn’t fully account for the uptick in grant applications and our strong results.

The added bump is largely the result of three key factors: Congress passed the FAST Act – a major transportation funding package at the end of 2015, the USDOT has been awarding more grants than average, and the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has been distributing additional funds.

Combined, the expanded activities translate into major wins for SDOT at an opportune moment. Approved by voters last fall, the $930 million Levy to Move Seattle is heavily dependent on these additional grant funds.

As seen in the chart below, the levy assumes additional leveraging of about $560 million. Leveraging assumptions include a combination of partnerships, grants, and other revenues. This leveraging plan is critical in order to complete the 9-year project list and also meet SDOT’s other commitments for basic maintenance and non-levy projects.

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As a result of our record-breaking year, SDOT has secured well over $100 million towards levy projects. Included among the early wins: $2 million for the Yesler Bridge project over 4th Ave, $420,000 from WSDOT for our Safe Routes to School program, and recommendations for up to $4.5 million for road repair from the PSRC, among many others.

It is unclear whether current trends will continue because of the various unique factors in early-2016. However, we are definitely setting ourselves up for success by securing these important grant dollars early in the Levy to Move Seattle lifecycle.

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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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Levy to Move Seattle 2016 Update

The $930-million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle was approved by voters in November 2015 and has since been funding safety improvements for all travelers, street maintenance, and investments in reliable, affordable travel options. Here is how the Levy has worked in your neighborhood in the first seven months of 2016:

Safe Routes to School

  • Eight Safe Routes to School projects completed this year, with four more planned for 2016
  • More than600 crosswalks repainted, making our streets safer to cross
  • 3,000 trees pruned to increase sign visibility and remove pedestrian hazards on the sidewalk
  • Replaced over 2,000 regulatory signs
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Wider crosswalk to better include wheelchair ramps at 5th and S Jackson, August 2016.

Maintenance and Repair

  • More than 180 bridge maintenance projects completed to keep our bridges safe
  • SDOT crews repaired seven blocks of sidewalk with more are on the way
  • 70 new trees planted so far with more scheduled for this fall
  • Ongoing pavement work to improve: 23rd Ave, Meridian Ave, Roosevelt Way, Renton Ave, Greenwood Ave and S Spokane St
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Roosevelt Way NE Paving and Safety Improvements Project, July 2016.

Congestion Relief

  • Installed more than 600 new bicycle parking spaces, many utilizing unused street space to improve sidewalk accessibility
  • Bus stop improvements in the Montlake neighborhood making transfers easier at the new Husky stadium light rail station
  • Bus stop and other improvements in South Lake Union to facilitate the new Rapid Ride C route through this growing neighborhood
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RapidRide bus shelter being installed in South Lake Union, March 2016.

Many of the bigger Levy projects – like the seven multimodal transit corridors, the Fairview Avenue bridge replacement and the Northgate pedestrian and bicycle bridge, to name a few – will take several more years to complete. With the majority of SDOT construction work planned for the warmer, drier months of July through October, we will continue to provide updates on Levy to Move Seattle projects as the year progresses.

By Elliot Helmbrecht, Levy Outreach and Accountability Manager

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