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.


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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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:

Snow 3

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.
snow 4

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.


  • 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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How our Paving Crews Roll on Repairs

When heavy vehicles like buses repeatedly stop on the same section of asphalt, this can create a “roll-up” of asphalt over time, much like how a rug bunches up when a person runs onto it and stops abruptly. Roll-ups can create significant bumps in the pavement and requires maintenance and attention.


“Roll-up” on Columbia Street just east of 1st Avenue.

SDOT paving crews recently repaired a roll-up on Columbia St just east of 1st Ave in the bus lane and the adjacent lane. These are heavily used travel lanes for the many buses that use the SR 99 viaduct to West Seattle, such as the popular C-Line. This location is on a hill, where roll-ups are even more likely to occur, and where safety concerns are even greater.

Crews were simultaneously responding to the windstorm, but they made it all work to carry out the needed repairs. They did a great job completing this work on a tight schedule, on a busy downtown corridor.


Columbia Street after the repairs – no more roll-up!

This is a great example of our paving crews’ flexibility, responsiveness and ability to step up to address an urgent need in street maintenance!

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Know Your Snow Routes

Do you have a plan in the event of snow? We do! And we want to help you to be ready too.

As part of our winter weather response plan, SDOT commits to clearing snow from identified routes on our Winter Weather snow and ice route map throughout the city within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm. The map can help you know what to expect.


SDOT’s snow routes show the level of service planned for each street, not which streets will be plowed first. These streets were selected because they are the busiest streets that connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with downtown and the greater Puget Sound region.

Levels of Service

Gold Snow Routes: These are streets of regional importance for hospitals, buses, large trucks and major employers. SDOT’s objective is to provide bare and wet pavement over all travel lanes within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm.

Emerald Snow Routes: These are streets of citywide importance for hospitals, buses and general traffic.  SDOT’s objective is to provide bare and wet pavement for one lane in each direction within 12 hours of a significant lull in the storm.

Coordination with the Bus System

SDOT and King County Metro Transit have worked carefully to make sure that SDOT’s snow routes meet the needs of the transit–riding public. The snow routes include the streets that Metro buses use when it snows.

Other Streets

There are some streets that SDOT crews will not be able to plow or treat with salt. These are the lesser traveled streets, and streets on hills that often become unsafe for the public and for SDOT trucks during periods of ice and snow.

Our crews know which steep streets often become unsafe for driving when it snows. When Seattle Police decide a street is unsafe for driving, they move a Street Closed sign into the middle of the road. For your safety, it is important to obey the Street Closed signs even if a street looks safe to you. There may be ice under the snow, or there may be a trouble spot that you can’t see.

Remember, SDOT does not plow non-arterial streets. Businesses and residents are responsible for shoveling and de-icing the sidewalks next to their property.

See a larger online version of our Snow Route map here.


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When Winter Storms Hit, We Have a Plan

In Seattle, winter can bring heavy rain, high winds, ice and snow. To help you prepare, we have winter weather tips, resources and helpful maps on our Winter Weather Home Page. To help us prepare, we’re using the latest technology to assess, monitor and respond to whatever mother nature throws our way.

  • Our staff follows weather reports 24 hours a day, all year long, with a direct line to the National Weather Service and live Doppler radar feeds.
  • We use a forecasting tool developed with the University of Washington called SNOWWATCH to learn how a storm will most likely affect different neighborhoods. This information helps determine where the crews will be needed first.
  • Our computerized sensors on city bridges and ground surface sensors provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures.


We take a proactive approach to inclement weather, preparing all year round to respond to snow and ice.

  • SDOT crews use trucks fitted with plows and salt-spreaders to keep major streets clear. Priority routes are shown on our snow route map.
  • When conditions allow, we pre-treat key streets and bridges with salt brine before the snow starts falling to help prevent ice from forming.
  • As the snow begins to fall, our crews continue to drive their routes, treating the roadway with salt brine or granular salt where needed. When approximately one inch of snow has accumulated, they begin plowing.
  • During a snow event, a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system tracks the locations of the trucks. The Winter Weather Response Map on SDOT’s website shows where the trucks are at the current time and also which streets the trucks have already serviced.
A loader redistributes salt after a new delivery has been received.

A loader redistributes salt after a new delivery has been received.

When Storms are Headed Our Way – We’re Preparing

We will plow major streets. These are the streets that are most important for getting to major public institutions such as hospitals and schools; the streets that are most frequently used by police, fire trucks and buses; and streets leading to Seattle’s major employers. We do not plow non-arterial streets.

  • We start preparing for winter in the summer, training staff, calibrating equipment and working with local agency partners.
  • When high winds or heavy rain are forecast, our crews are ready to remove fallen trees from the road, and to repair signs and signals.
  • Our supplies of granular salt and salt brine are ready to help keep ice from forming on main city streets and bridges.

SDOT works closely with King County Metro Transit, the Seattle School District, local universities, hospitals, and major employers to ensure our snow-fighting work maintains mobility for people and goods, and access to the region. Priority routes will be treated with de-icer and plowed when the storm hits. Now is a good time to plan routes to get to work, the grocery store, child care and medical appointments.

For more information about winter weather preparation, see SDOT’s Winter Weather Home Page.

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Working Together to Get the Job Done

It’s all about teamwork! SDOT recently partnered with Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) on a project to improve driving conditions near E Marginal Way S and Diagonal Ave S. Together, the agencies restored approximately 700 feet of railroad tracks that are notorious for making driving conditions pretty rough in that area. The work was done in a  tight window – working against the clock during a weekend when Seattle Sounders FC fans might be driving through, and when Mother Nature was not exactly cooperating.


The project required significant coordination among multiple SDOT divisions and UPRR to plan, keep an eye on the weather, and execute, in a very short amount of time. UPRR crews saw-cut and excavated the existing tracks and adjacent pavement and installed new tracks and concrete crossing pads. SDOT crews then worked from dawn to dark on a Sunday to ensure that E Marginal Way S was open in time for the end of the Sounders game. Crews repeated this effort on Monday so Diagonal Ave S road could be opened for the Tuesday morning commute.


In addition to time restraints and weather challenges, there were some unforeseen UPRR delays, and SDOT crews had to work in very tight operating spaces. Our crews placed roughly 300 tons of asphalt — much of it by hand — because the space was too tight to accommodate our paving equipment.uprr3

In the end, SDOT and UPRR crews worked together to rise above the numerous restoration challenges and built a vastly improved railroad crossing section. Residents will now experience a much smoother ride when traveling in this area. This project is an excellent example of multiple City and external agencies working together!

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Microsurfacing Covers 33% more Streets than Last Year

We’ve wrapped up work on this year’s extensive microsurfacing program! Microsurfacing is a protective seal coat that extends the life of pavement – and we’ve covered more lane miles than ever!

In July and August, 63 lane miles of streets were microsurfaced in 10 Seattle neighborhoods – that’s a 33% increase in lane miles from last year. That means more than 6,500 homes and businesses now have a rejuvenated road surface in front of their property. When the program started in 2013, just 12 lane miles were microsurfaced, in 2014 the number grew to 27 lane miles, and in 2015 the project covered 43 lane miles.


Cost-effective street maintenance

Microsurfacing is a cost-effective method to renew the road surface. Much like painting a house, crews apply a thin, tough layer of asphalt emulsion, blended with finely crushed stone for traction, to the road surface. The treatment seals minor cracks and deformities, using a special coating that extends the life of the pavement by 7 to 10 years. The finished surface looks similar to regular asphalt. Once the asphalt is fully cured, crews restripe roads, crosswalks and other features.

For more information about microsurfacing, including a video of how it’s done, click right here.

Thank you to all the neighbors for your patience and understanding during this work! We hope you enjoy the newly microsurfaced streets.

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Local Jazz Legend Honored with Street Name Signs in the Central District

Ernestine Anderson was a legendary American jazz and blues singer who grew up in Seattle’s Central District and graduated from Garfield High School. Ms. Anderson’s prolific singing career spanned more than five decades and included more than 30 albums. She was a four-time Grammy nominee and performed at Carnegie Hall and around the world. In short, her creative talents and musical accomplishments helped shape the Seattle music scene.


That’s why, at the request of the Historic Central Area Arts & Cultural District and the Mayor’s office, SDOT has installed honorary street name signs for Ernestine Anderson along S Jackson St between 20th Ave South and 23rd Ave South.

The honorary signs were installed adjacent to Ernestine Anderson Place, which provides housing and serves homeless and low-income seniors, and was built in 2012. Ms. Anderson’s family, including her daughter, attended the sign ceremony.


Ms. Anderson’s family (from left to right): Falana, granddaughter, Sophia, granddaughter, and Shelley, daughter.

With these new honorary signs, Ernestine Anderson’s legacy can continue to inspire new generations of musicians in Seattle and around the world.

Honorary signs do not change the legal street name or addresses. They differ from regular street signs in color – they are brown. In Seattle, brown street name signs are used for honorary street name signs, Parks Department roads, and Olmsted boulevards.

For more information about street name signs please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/new_streetsigns.htm.

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My Haircut with Scott: A Conversation About the Yesler Bridge Project

Rehabilitation of the historic Yesler Way Bridge started in May and required the complete closure of Yesler Way over 4th Avenue. One of the local businesses directly impacted by the project is 9000 Barbershop located at 321 Yesler Way.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly and Office of Economic Development (OED) Director Brian Surratt showed their support for this local business by stopping by the shop to get their hair cut.

The Yesler Way Bridge Rehabilitation Project will continue through fall 2017. When it is complete, Yesler Bridge will retain the unique design elements it had when it was built in 1910, and also have improved safety and reliability.

SDOT promotes businesses impacted by construction by clearly marking pedestrian walkways, using wayfinding signage, and keeping the nearby work site clean by moving construction materials and equipment when not in use. Please continue to patronize businesses like 9000 Barber Shop that are impacted by this work as they remain open and accessible during construction.

For more information on the Yesler Bridge Rehabilitation Project, please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/yeslerbridge.htm.

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Safety, Enforcement and Watching Out for Drugs and Explosives

SDOT’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division recently hosted 15 local, national and federal law agencies for training by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on the latest technology and trends to root out criminal activity associated with the use of commercial vehicles, such as transporting narcotics, explosives, stolen goods or being involved money laundering.


Local media talking to SDOT Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Rodger Bleiler.

Local media crews had the opportunity to see officers use the latest technology including new mobile weigh-in-motion equipment that allows them to “go where the trucks are” to prevent some truck drivers from avoiding freeway weigh stations altogether. As a result, in the first 3 weeks of using the new mobile equipment, officers discovered roughly 40% of the trucks weighed were overweight and they were cited.

One truck was discovered to be 5,000 pounds over its permitted weight and the driver was cited on the spot.

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Rodger Bleiler says the new technology means they are busier than ever, but from a safety standpoint, it’s a good thing for all drivers. Their mission is to improve public safety in the Seattle area by reducing the number of unsafe commercial motor vehicles operating on our roadways through a process of education and enforcement.


Mobile weigh-in-motion technology.

Other technology training included use of X-ray scanners and narcotics- and explosives-sniffing dogs.

SDOT’s top priority is safety and its Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers work to ensure safe travel, education and compliance of commercial vehicle operations throughout the city.

Products and goods move in, around, and out of the city every day. It is critical to ensure goods are moving in an efficient, predictable, and sustained manner so businesses and consumers receive deliveries on time to help maintain the economic health and vibrancy of the city.

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