Levy to Move Seattle – A Recap and What’s Next

TransportationLevyDesign

In late June, the Seattle City Council’s Special Committee on Transportation Funding voted on over a dozen amendments to the Levy to Move Seattle legislation Mayor Murray sent their way in May. The city council then voted unanimously on June 29 to place the levy on the November ballot.

This is a major milestone in the Levy to Move Seattle’s life (it kind of reminds us of the process of a bill becoming a law…oh Schoolhouse Rocks…but we digress). We’d like to take a moment to recap the process for how we got here.

This past March, Mayor Murray announced a new strategic vision for transportation – Move Seattle. Move Seattle integrates the long-range plans that we’ve put together with the public – walking, biking, transit, and now freight ; each one sets a vision for our transportation system  over the next 20 years.

Each modal plan went through many months of public discussion and engagement. For example, from 2012 to 2014 we worked with the public to update the Bicycle Master Plan. Staff attended dozens of community meetings, district council discussions, and hosted open houses and online meetings. We conducted a statistically valid phone survey with 600 interviewees, received over 3,500 responses to an online survey and learned about thousands of routes via an online mapping tool. All of this helped us understand what improvements residents wanted and where they would like to ride but currently don’t. Through this work we heard from thousands of people throughout the city, providing key input into the plan and ultimately shaping this year’s levy package.

As we work to realize the vision set forth in each plan, as individual projects get started, they go through their own outreach and design processes. Through Move Seattle, we’ve been able to bring all our plans together, so we can work toward building a safe and connected system that works well for all people, whether they walk, drive a car, take transit, bike or move goods.

On the heels of the Move Seattle announcement, the Mayor unveiled a proposal for a new transportation levy to replace the expiring Bridging the Gap levy (which expires at the end of 2015). In developing the draft proposal for the levy, we drew from the Move Seattle project list (this list came from applying the prioritization criteria found in each plan).

Over the course of about 45 days, we took this draft proposal out to over 35 community groups, hosted tables at farmers markets, held coffee hours, conducted traditional open houses, and had one meeting in a local bar. We also engaged with community stakeholders via roundtable sessions with Mayor Murray and our director, Scott Kubly. This helped us hear directly from representatives of immigrant and refugee communities, transportation advocates, neighborhood leaders, and communities of color.

LevyOurVision

Graphic recording of ideas captured at one of our open houses – March 29 at the New Holly Gathering Hall in southeast Seattle.

What we heard in our outreach – in over 8,000 public comments submitted through an online survey and in-person discussions – were three clear community priorities:

  1. Safety is a top goal
  2. People want better access to transit, and they want buses to be more reliable
  3. People want more investments in making Seattle a more walkable city

We used public feedback to rework the proposal, and in May 2015, Mayor Murray announced a final proposal that included new elements to directly reflect what we heard:

  • Funding for the Accessible Mount Baker and Fauntleroy Way Boulevard projects
  • More funding for transit investments
  • Increased investment in new sidewalks

The size of the levy also increased, from $900 million to $930 million over nine years, due in part to growth assumptions (increases in population and property values) and the City’s ability to direct additional estimated revenue to the levy versus the City’s General Fund for all services.

And that brings us back to today. We want to thank everyone for participating and helping to shape the levy. Whether you emailed us with comments or ideas, or maybe you sat in on a coffee hour or community meeting, or stopped to chat at a farmers market – we value your time, and we’re continually looking for creative ways to reach and engage people.

If you have any questions about the Levy to Move Seattle, please contact the Levy outreach lead, Allison Schwartz, at allison.schwartz@seattle.gov or (206) 386-4654. You can also learn more at www.seattle.gov/LevyToMoveSeattle.

Mercer Corridor Project – A Healthy Community is an Informed Community

A construction project on the scale of the Mercer Corridor Project (MCP) requires significant engagement with the countless individuals, businesses, and communities that are influenced by construction activities. As the MCP moves toward substantial completion later this summer, the outreach team continues to keep the neighborhood informed about everything from the overall schedule to details about specific closures. SDOT works diligently to keep commuters, residents, and business owners up to date to ensure our growing communities remain vibrant and healthy. Being knowledgeable of closures and alternative ways to get around and aware of one’s surroundings will help keep everyone safe in the Uptown and SLU communities.

SDOT’s commitment to keep you informed

The outreach team coordinates with the engineering, construction, and SDOT management crews to translate construction activities into understandable language for the community: what’s going to be closed, and when. They’re also sure to keep track of major events in the SLU, Seattle Center, and Downtown areas to minimize conflicts with race routes and other major construction closures. The team then sends this information out to the community through different pathways including email lists, notifications to neighborhood groups, media releases, and updates to the MCP website. Over the course of the project, the outreach team has sent out more than 1,000 email updates, neighbor notifications, and stakeholder outreach notices.

Don’t let construction stop you from enjoying all the community has to offer!

As you walk to Citizen Coffee, catch a show at McCaw Hall or Key Arena, visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, or shop for midnight snacks from QFC, make sure you are aware of the latest construction notices that can be easily found on the project website: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/mercercorridor.htm

Day-Seattle-Skyline_800x

If you’re unsure of the best route to navigate your way from point A to point B, feel free to give us a call on our project hotline (206) 419-5818. We’re always happy to help!

Building Healthy Communities 6-30-15SDOT and our crews look forward to the progress and completion of construction in 2015 and thank you for your patience during construction.

 

For up-to-minute construction updates join our project email list at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/mercercorridor.htm or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-419-5818.

 

Building Healthy Communities with… SIDEWALKS!

From 2007-2013, SDOT noted an increase in children walking and biking to 26 of 28 schools evaluated in Seattle.* We’re working to continue this trend!

SDOT is helping to build healthy communities by participating in the national Safe Routes to School Program, focused on engineering and education projects to offer children in dense suburban areas safe and walkable routes to school.

KidsandBikes

Walking and biking to school on safe streets is always a good thing.

 

Two recent studies found walking to school associates with higher overall physical activity and other benefits that include:

 

  • Weight and blood pressure control
  • Bone, muscle, and joint health and maintenance
  • Reduction in the risk of diabetes
  • Improved psychological welfare
  • Better academic performance

 

Starting on June 29, SDOT will kick-off construction on three sidewalk projects in north Seattle:

 

  • 20th Avenue NE near Sacajawea Elementary School
  • 3rd Avenue NW near Viewlands Elementary School
  • NE 77th Street near Thornton Creek School

 

These projects are part of SDOT’s Pedestrian Master Plan and Safe Routes to School Program to make each route safer and improve the walking experience for all, including students at nearby schools.

BikesAtSchool

Bicycles at a local Seattle school.

Improvements include new sidewalks and curb ramps, revamped crosswalks and additional efforts to promote safe driving. Construction will conclude before school starts on September 8, just in time for that first walk to the classroom.

For updates on schedule and contact information visit the project web pages:

 

*Annual count by Seattle Public Schools

Live from Lake City: Construction Update at Lake City Way and 24th Avenue NE

 

Crews are busy preparing the subgrade for drainage and sidewalk improvements.

Crews are busy preparing the subgrade for drainage and sidewalk improvements

The city continues their work to transform the intersection of Lake City Way NE and 24th Avenue NE. As noted previously here on the SDOT blog, this project will overhaul this intersection and provide new pavement, sidewalks, curb ramps and traffic signal controls. The changes will improve the safety for all users of these streets. When finished, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists will notice the significantly improved sidewalks and transit stop. Construction is expected to be complete in another 30 to 45 days.

Thanks to the outstanding summer weather, our contractor is making quick work. New curb ramps have been constructed on the east side of Lake City Way and excavation for the extensive sidewalks on the west side of the roadway is nearly complete. Over the next few weeks, crews will complete sidewalk construction and prepare foundations for new traffic signal mast arms.

New curb ramps on the east side of Lake City Way.

New curb ramps on the east side of Lake City Way.

This project was identified by the residents and business owners that have guided the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project. SDOT and our partners will continue to implement priority projects for the next several years along this corridor.

 

Bike share your way around town!

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

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

If you need to make a quick trips on Seattle streets, consider signing up for bike share, an innovative program allowing users to take short trips easily without owning their own bike.

Pronto Cycle Share provides a fleet of specially designed and durable bikes found in docking stations located throughout Seattle. With this program, you can borrow a bike any time you like. The program is best for short trips – typically less than two miles.

Bikes can be picked up and returned to any station, creating an efficient network with many connection points, departures and arrivals.

One of the many bike share locations around the city-- 2nd & University.

One of the many bike share locations around the city– 2nd & University.

Bike share complements Seattle’s transit and light rail systems. In cities like Seattle, up to 50% of bike share trips are to or from public transit stations. In Seattle, bike share is used by commuters and tourists, for rush hour commuting, work or errand running, or moving among the city’s variety of attractions.

For more information on how to get involved, visit SDOT’S bike share page here.

When you don’t live near a bus route….

A Vanpool or Van Share may be the solution to your commute if there is no public transit near your home or near your workplace. Sharing a van is a convenient and cost-effective for the everyday commuter. You can use HOV lanes on the freeways, save money on gas and parking, and can shorten your commute instead of driving solo.

Metro Vanpool_Flickr_Oran Viriyincy

Van Shares you could be using!

Five or more people can form a Vanpool or Van Share. Vanpool participants share a flat monthly cost based on round trip distance and the number of people in the van. Van Share riders pay $185 each month, split among all riders. Gas, insurance and maintenance are all paid for both.

When you form a Vanpool, one person can act as driver and bookkeeper, but it’s nice if more people share these roles. You’ll enjoy discounted parking in some areas as well.

Van Shares are like Vanpools except they are limited to 20 miles round trip and must connect with transit, ferries, or trains for one leg of the trip. For example, you could use the Sounder commuter rail to arrive at King Street Station, and then pick up a Van Share in the garage and drive to your work outside of downtown.

RSO Vanpool Bike (48)

You can get help finding members for your van or attend a “ride share meetup” in your area this summer.

For more information on Vanpools and Van Shares, visit us here or call (206) 625-4500.

Proposed Protected Bike Lane in Fremont: We need your help!

ProtectedBikeLane34th

You have an opportunity to provide input for a new protected bike lane segment along N 34th Street in Fremont!

More than 100 people bike on N 34th Street between the Burke-Gilman Trail and the Fremont Bridge during the peak morning and evening weekday hours. Currently, bicyclists share the road with people who drive vehicles.  There is an eastbound bike lane between Evanston Avenue N and Fremont Avenue N.

SDOT is proposing to extend the existing bike lane along N 34th Street from Evanston Avenue N to Phinney Avenue N.  We would convert it to a two-way protected bike facility that would accommodate people of all ages and abilities and provide a connection between the Burke-Gilman Trail and the Fremont Bridge. The existing parking configuration will not change.

MapProtectedBikeLane

Map of proposed changes on 34th between Evanston Avenue N and Phinney Avenue N.

This project is funded as part of the Bicycle Master Plan.

Please provide any feedback you have by June 26th to the project manager, Howard Wu at howard.wu@seattle.gov.

 

Improving Pedestrian Crossing Safety in Ballard

SDOT broke ground this week on a pedestrian safety project at one of Seattle’s five-way intersections, this one in East Ballard near West Woodland Elementary School.

The project is located at the intersection of 3rd Avenue NW, NW 56th Street and 55th Place NW, where the street grid becomes complicated by roads that wind up Phinney Ridge. The intersection has been equipped with three striped crosswalks and a flashing “School Zone” beacon but the large, complex intersection remained difficult to cross.

Parents and the West Woodland Elementary School safety committee identified the need for crossing improvements on this key walking route through a Safe Routes to School outreach process.

West Woodland 6-18-15

In about two months, when this project is complete, kids, families and neighbors will find a new all-way stop, two additional striped crosswalks, curb extensions, upgraded curb ramps, and 55th Place NW will be separated from the intersection and made one-way southwest-bound.

These improvements are a part of SDOT’s ongoing mission to build healthy communities and were designed to help clarify the right of way, keep vehicle speeds low and improve visibility between pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

The SDOT project team designed this project over the past year, along with five other pedestrian safety improvement projects throughout the city. Each of these five projects are part of the Neighborhood Street Fund Program, with funding from both the Bridging the Gap transportation levy passed by voters in 2006 and scheduled to expire at the end of this year, as well as  from the Safe Routes to School Program.

Work began on June 15 and crews are in their first of what will be approximately eight weeks of construction. Residents and travelers in the area can expect construction activity while crews work to build these improvements, including some of the following impacts:

  • Temporary parking and lane restrictions on NW 56th Street, NW 55th Place and 3rd Avenue NW
  • Pedestrian and bicycle detours around the work zones
  • Noise, dust and vibration associated with concrete removal and paving
  • Typical weekday work hours, from 7 AM to 5 PM

 

Additionally, a road closure will be in place on 3rd Avenue NW at NW 56th Street for approximately three weeks, followed by a closure of the west side of 3rd Avenue NW at NW 56th Street for approximately three weeks. These restrictions will be in place to allow crews to safely and efficiently demolish the existing sidewalk and pour concrete for the new curb extensions. Local access will be maintained during these restrictions.

We appreciate the community’s patience while work is being done to complete this project.

If you have questions during construction, you can contact the outreach team at NSF@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9361. Sign up to receive email updates about this project here.

Summer Break for Kids has Begun, Please Travel Safely Everybody

Summer break has begun and we wanted to remind everyone to travel safely and to be mindful that most kids are out of school.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly, SDOT staffers joined Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers at Arbor Heights/K-5 STEM School in West Seattle last week to educate and reinforce safe travel habits as everyone prepared for summer break. Healthy habits developed as children can become lifelong habits that can be shared with others.

Please checkout our latest Blog Video featuring our friends at Arbor Heights/K-5 STEM, Seattle Police and Scott Kubly:

We chatted with grownups driving and kids who were getting dropped off, and families who were walking and biking to school and wanted to reinforce good travel behavior by saying thank and sharing some tokens of our appreciation.

Thank you to the staff, families and kids at Arbor Heights/K-5 STEM for letting us spread some positive safety reinforcement at your school, have an awesome summer break!

Seattle’s Vision Zero program launched earlier this year:

  • Goal is to end traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030
  • Seattle is a safe city – often recognized as one of the safest in the nation
  • We want to build on our safety record
  • And we know that we can be even better (over 10,000 collisions/year, and one death is one too many)
  • Vision Zero approach emphasizes smarter street designs – forgiving streets that account for human error
  • When paired with targeted education and enforcement, we can save lives
  • We each have a role to play every day to reach Vision Zero

To make our streets safer for all, Seattle’s Vision Zero 2015 efforts include:

  • Reducing the speed limit in the downtown core to 25 m.p.h. by the end of 2015
  • Improving safety at 10 high-crash intersections downtown by eliminating turns on red lights, installing leading pedestrian intervals to give walkers a head start, eliminating dual turn lanes, and other engineering improvements
  • Installing 20 m.p.h. zones on residential streets in up to ten areas near parks and schools with documented collision histories
  • Enhancing safety on arterials (where 90 percent of serious and fatal collisions occur), like Rainier Avenue S, 35th Avenue SW, Fauntleroy Way SW and Fifth Avenue NE, by enhancing street designs, lowering speed limits and installing radar speed signs
  • Adding 12 new school zone safety cameras in six school zones to improve safety for children as they make their way to and from school
  • Adding seven miles of protected bike lanes, more than 40 crossing improvements, and 14 blocks of new sidewalk to make travel safer across all modes
  • Conducting targeted enforcement throughout the city for school, pedestrian and bike safety, along with enhanced DUI enforcement. SDOT and SPD will work together to educate people in advance of these patrols, so everyone will expect enforcement and better understand the rules of the road.For more information on Vision Zero, visit www.seattle.gov/visionzero. #VisionZeroSEA

Vizion Zero

Goat-powered Summer Vegetation Clearing in Seattle!

Our Goat friends along with Head Herder/Chief Wrangler Tammy are back in action for SDOT to help clear some unwanted invasive vegetation underneath the Viaduct near Leonora and Blanchard streets. Another example of SDOT using “green” technology to support environmental stewardship as summer approaches.

Goat powered vegetation clearing underneath the Viaduct.

Goat powered vegetation clearing underneath the Viaduct

The Goats will be around the next week or so, and are happy to clear the brush. As you may recall, Goats are waaay better suited to steep hillsides than humans, making it safer, more cost-effective and mutually beneficial to have this work done by goats than by humans. Clearing the invasive vegetation helps keep our eco-system and communities healthy by removing these non-indigenous quick growing plants. 

Baaaah...Baaah...We love Seattle almost-Summer.

Baaaah…Baaah…We love Seattle almost-Summer.

The Goats have four stomachs, so they can eat and digest the blackberry (thorns and all), and other invasive vegetation without repopulating the seeds anywhere, meaning they aren’t spreading the plants elsewhere.  We appreciate their “can-do” and “Goat-to” attitude.