Yup, there’s a lot of construction downtown.
– like a LOT, a lot – and we know it can be a challenge to get around whether you’re driving, biking or walking. That’s why we have rules – SDOT Director’s Rules, to be exact. These rules help us make sure that safety and mobility are at the top of the list when it comes to construction that might affect you getting around town.
One rule specifically has to do with people walking near construction zones. Its long, official name is the SDOT Director’s Rule (DR) 10-2015 for Pedestrian Mobility in and around Work Zones but really, it’s our way of making sure that people walking near busy construction zones stay safe and always have a path to get through or around the work area.
We use this Director’s Rule to coordinate with builders to try and avoid sidewalk/path closures when we can, but sometimes a closure is best for safety, or it can help make a project go faster. We start thinking about how closures may affect travelers around a project loooong before orange construction signs go up. For example, we started coordinating with contractors on the massive Rainier Square Project at 5th and Union downtown nearly two years ago. Some of things we had to consider:
What developers wanted to do:
- Close the sidewalk on 4th Ave during the holiday season.
- Close the bus lane 24/7 on 4th Ave for 1.5 years.
- Close traffic lane 24/7 on 5th Ave for 1.5 years.
What both sides decided on:
- Sidewalk closed only between 7 AM to 6 PM, Mon – Fri, for only a week during the holiday season.
- Bus lane closure reduced from 1.5 years to 4 weeks.
- Traffic lane closed between 9 AM and 3 PM.
Thanks to coordination, pre-planning, and developer creativity, we were able to agree on a project plan.
Sure, both sides made compromises, but in the end, we all met our goals of safety, keeping people moving, and project efficiency. (Director’s) Rules do work!
Today, the Rainier Square Project is completing the demolition and starting to dig a big hole in the ground with signs letting people know how to get around it. But in the near future, it’ll be shiny and new, and look like this:
If you’re a transportation nerd and would like to know more about upcoming projects that might affect you getting around, check out SDOT’s new Project and Construction Coordination Map or visit our Project and Construction Coordination Office and Construction Use in the Right of Way pages.
Safe and happy traveling!