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Archive for 'Safety'

When emergencies strike, help is on the way

Lawrence Eichhorn, SDOT's Emergency Management Manager and Rodney Maxie, SDOT's Safety Manager, were two SDOT employees who volunteered to help at the OSO landslide this spring.

Lawrence Eichhorn, SDOT’s Emergency Management Manager and Rodney Maxie, SDOT’s Safety Manager, were two SDOT employees who volunteered to help at the OSO landslide this spring.

Our hearts go out to the many people around the nation who have lost their loved ones or their homes as a result of a natural disaster or other major emergency–whether by fire, flood, winter storm, landslide, or some other event. These tremendous losses are a reminder that we need to plan ahead and do all we can to prepare for when an emergency strikes our city.

When there is an emergency in Seattle, the Seattle Department of Transportation responds to keep key arterial routes open. SDOT inspects streets and bridges, clears away debris, and works to remove hazards from streets. The department also issues permits authorizing others to work in street areas, and sends out critical transportation information to the public.

Agencies from around the region sent volunteers to help with the Oso landslide.

Agencies from around the region sent volunteers to help with the Oso landslide.

When other communities call on Seattle for assistance, City of Seattle employees volunteer to help. Employees from many different city departments volunteered for the Oso landfill response in Arlington, Washington this spring, including nine SDOT employees. In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, this work provides hands-on practice making us more prepared for responding to a disaster in our own city. Also, it is a comfort to know that if Seattle experiences a major disaster, other communities will come to our aid.

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More Cyclists Using the Broadway Protected Bike Lane Each Day

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Whether it is the summer weather, bike riders becoming familiar with its presence, or a combination of the two, ridership on the two-way Broadway Protected Bike Lane (PBL) is growing at an encouraging pace.

The first protected bike lane in the central city seeks to separate bicycle traffic from vehicular traffic and runs for 1.2 miles along the east side of Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler. A new road surface, bike friendly drainage grates, and painted green bike lanes enhance bicycle safety and mobility. The PBL opened to bicyclists in early May, although a short four-block section (Denny to Union) opened last October.

SDOT started counting the number of cyclists using the PBL in January, when its weekday average use was only 270 bicycles, no doubt a reflection of winter weather and that only a short segment had been opened at that point. By May, when its full length was open, the weekday average had grown to 464 bicycles, and then in June the figure shot up to 562. (The highest single day count was 660 bicycles on Monday, June 30.) The count, tabulated by the hour, shows that the heaviest use occurs during the afternoon commute (5PM-6PM), which is also seen at the other bike counters around the city.  The Fremont Bridge is a long established and heavily used bike route, which is demonstrated by its count of an astounding 4,000 daily bicycle trips on an average summer weekday.

The City has not established any ridership targets for the Broadway PBL, although the count will help to evaluate the biking goals listed in the Seattle Master Bike Plan.

The PBL was included with the construction of the First Hill Streetcar at the request of the Capitol Hill community. When opened for passenger service this coming fall, it will operate along a 2.5 route from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, with ten stations and six streetcars. Service will run at 10 minutes intervals during peak hours (Monday through Friday, 6-9 AM and 3-6 PM), 12 minutes midday and on Saturdays, and approximately 15 minutes at other times.

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How to replace a bridge in four days

Eric O'B PANO-SR99 at Broad St-2014_07_09_FULL-SIZE

(Click photo for larger version)

In August, crews working on the North Access contract near the SR 99 tunnel’s north portal will replace the bridge on SR 99 over Broad Street. Not sure what bridge we’re talking about? Don’t worry. Even the most seasoned SR 99 commuter may not realize they are crossing a bridge at Broad Street.

That bridge, and Broad Street itself, must be completely transformed to make room for the future connection to the tunnel’s north portal and on- and off-ramps at Harrison and Republican streets.

Crews have already begun to fill in Broad Street with recycled concrete from the former roadway. Once we close this section of SR 99 to traffic, crews will bring in heavy equipment and demolish the old bridge in about 12 hours. They’ll then spend the next two days adding more fill material to make the new roadway level with the existing lanes of SR 99. After paving the new SR 99 roadway, crews will stripe the lanes and reinstall barriers. Once all of this is completed, SR 99 will reopen.

Closure information
Demolishing a bridge and building a new road in its place isn’t easy work. It is especially challenging on a major highway through Seattle. To minimize disruptions to drivers, crews will replace this portion of SR 99 in a mere four days. Drivers should plan ahead for SR 99 closures from Friday night, August 22 to Wednesday morning, August 27. Closure details can be found here.

There’s a lot of other WSDOT work that will happen on SR 99 during this closure as well, including utility work at Harrison Street, concrete panel replacement in SODO, expansion joint repairs on the viaduct near the Seneca Street off-ramp and removal of ivy from the viaduct in downtown Seattle.

We will continue to share information to help drivers plan ahead and get around during the closure.

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Freight Master Plan, BTG Financial Review and more

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Would you like to know more about progress made by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on developing a Freight Master Plan? How about a review of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) finances and an update on the 2014 BTG work plan implementation? Would you like to meet new folks and find out how you can get engaged?   If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in luck!

The BTG Levy Oversight Committee has a meeting scheduled for July 29, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m., Seattle City Hall Room 370. The committee is a dedicated group of 15 community members who meet quarterly to review and track the progress of the BTG transportation initiative that was passed by Seattle voters in 2006. They are charged with ensuring SDOT is delivering on the promises made to voters.

Committee members come from all across the city and from all walks of life. They take their oversight and accountability role seriously and they work closely with SDOT to ensure that BTG is not only meeting its goals, but that it is being integrated into the overall goals of the department and the City.

The committee members include:

  • Ann Martin, Co-chair
  • Kristen Lohse, Co-chair
  • Ref Lindmark
  • Betty Seith-Croll
  • Allegra Calder
  • John Coney
  • Jeremy Valenta
  • Barbara Wright
  • Chisula Chambers
  • Jessica Szelag, Bicycle Advisory Board member
  • Lydia Heard, Pedestrian Advisory Board member
  • David Mendoza, Freight Advisory Board member
  • Ben Noble, City Budget Director
  • Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee Chair

All committee meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend and share their views on BTG during public comment. If you are interested in how your tax dollars are allocated, why not mark your calendar and join us July 29th.

For more information, please visit BTG Levy Oversight Committee website.

 

 

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Neighborhood Street Fund Update

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Here we are – halfway between the start of 2013 and the end of 2015, the three-year cycle for the Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) program. So, just how is the program doing? Pretty darn well it turns out!

By December 2012, 87 applications were received from groups and individuals for a portion of the $4.5M reserved by the Bridging the Gap levy for NSF projects. These projects had to be reasonably big transportation projects located entirely on SDOT right-of-way, but could address any sort of problem. Safety was nearly always the driving force behind these proposed projects and was one of the key criteria used to determine which would be funded.

2013 is the year when the projects were planned and prioritized. By mid-February Seattle’s 13 District Councils had each selected 3 projects for further consideration. By the end of May SDOT had studied the proposal, developed a preliminary design and an initial cost estimate. The District Councils then ranked their choices (1st, 2nd and 3rd) in June and the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee selected a dozen projects for funding from the full list by August. By October of last year the recommendations were included in the City’s budget. Nearly all of the selected projects will improve pedestrian safety.

This year, 2014, is when most of the projects are designed, and the plans and specifications are prepared. In most cases this involves coordination with other agencies or utilities and in some cases there are details to be worked out with the project sponsors or nearby stakeholders.

One of the twelve projects that was funded– a 2 block long extension to SDOT’s West Duwamish Trail Project which was already in design – was fast-tracked and started construction this week.

Five other projects were bundled together for design (by SDOT staff) and construction (by a single contractor to be selected next year). These mostly feature new curb bulb or sidewalks for pedestrian safety:

  • Waterway 22, along Northlake Boulevard and N Stone Way south of North 34th Street
  • West Woodlawn, modifications to Third Avenue NW at NW 56th Street
  • 19th Avenue at East Union and Pike Streets
  • 12th Avenue at East Howell and Olive Streets
  • Lake-to-Bay route improvements on West Harrison Street

The Pioneer Square ADA access project has three locations; one on South Jackson Street which will be done later this summer and three others on Yesler Avenue which will be done next year. (As a bonus, SDOT received a grant which will allow the Neighborhood Street Fund to address additional locations next year.)

The Georgetown Festival Street project proposed for 12th Ave South and South Vale Street is 50 percent designed, thanks to the able assistance of a Citizen Advisory Group who has been working with the design team. This will also be built in 2015.

Three locations on Rainier Ave South are being designed to improve pedestrian movements: One at Rainier and Dearborn, one in the historic district of Columbia City, and one in Rainier Beach. These are in various stages of design (10 to 60 percent), but all are planned for construction next year.

Greenwood Ave N has NSF-funded sidewalks at 90 percent design, located at key locations between N 92nd and N 105th Streets. Construction is scheduled to start by March 2015.

Overall, the Neighborhood Street Fund program is doing just what was intended when it was included in the Bridging the Gap levy; directing scarce resources at the neighborhood transportation projects deemed most important to address. For more information about the program, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/btg_nsf_large.htm .

 

 

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City launches program to address impacts from construction surge

The City of Seattle recognizes that construction can create challenges, and now a new program is working to lessen resulting cumulative impacts, and maintain mobility. The Access Seattle initiative is an effort to balance unprecedented growth and development with the need to maintain access in the city. Three pillars support the Access Seattle Initiative:

  • Business and community support;
  • Traveler engagement; and
  • Construction coordination–led by the new Construction Hub Coordination Program

Maintaining access during peak construction periods is the primary goal of Access Seattle and the new Construction Hub Coordination Program that supports it. The hub team of project and on-site coordinators assess permitted construction holistically, across public and private lines, in areas with multiple simultaneous construction projects in close proximity—otherwise known as construction hubs. Hubs identified thus far, and subject to change with changing development, are identified in the map below (click for larger version).

SDOT_Construction_Hubs_Boundary_Map4.8.14

The Access Seattle construction coordination effort comes at a time when downtown Seattle has more projects under construction, about to break ground or recently completed than it has in the seven years preceding January 2013, according to the Downtown Seattle Association Development Guide June 2014 Update. That update also found that in the last year the amount of office space under construction has nearly doubled, and there are more than three times the number of apartment units under construction compared to the last development cycle in 2007.

To keep projects and people moving, the Construction Hub Coordination Program team is:

  • Assessing all project schedules together to identify conflicts and minimize mobility/access impacts
  • Creating mapping systems showing all planned and active mobility impacts from all hub-area construction
  • Establishing reliable lines of communication with impacted communities
  • Providing on-site enforcement to monitor and resolve conflicts

“Our site coordinators meet with contractors before construction begins, discussing impacts and coaching on best ways to maintain mobility for the duration of a project,” said SDOT Right of Way Manager Brian de Place. “The idea is to get everyone talking and seeing the same big picture, to save the public and contractors from undue inconvenience and frustration.”

The Construction Hub Coordination Program is led by the Seattle Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Office of Economic Development. The effort is collaborative, to ensure strong support and thorough problem solving.

“The Office of Economic Development works to provide assistance and information for businesses to grow and compete in Seattle, and that sometimes includes navigating governmental services,” said James Kelly, Business Liaison with the Office of Economic Development. “Our office is pleased to partner with the Department of Transportation, helping to provide clear communication about construction project impacts and lessen the effect on local businesses.”Team

Key contacts for residents and businesses concerned with construction are as follows:

  • Site Coordinator Ken Ewalt for construction related concerns in Center City area, Alaskan Way Viaduct, North Westlake and South Lake Union hubs | 206.684.4995 or SDOTConstructionHub@Seattle.gov
  • Site Coordinator Wayne Gallup for construction related concerns in West Seattle, Capitol Hill and Ballard hubs | 206.681.6099 or SDOTConstructionHub@Seattle.gov
  • Business Liaison James Kelly for business impact concerns in all hubs | 206.684.8612 or james.kelly2@seattle.gov

Construction Hub Coordination Program goals include helping residents and businesses know what to expect and where, while limiting and managing cumulative impacts to support neighborhood and economic vitality.

For more information on the Construction Hub Coordination Program contact the team at SDOTConstructionHub@Seattle.govor visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/hub.htm.

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Central Area Neighborhood Greenway Drop-in Sessions

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Please join us next week for drop-in sessions for the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway. Since our last public meeting in February, we have refined options for the greenway route on the north and south ends of the project area.

This greenway is being developed in close coordination with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project and will provide a bicycle and pedestrian facility off of 23rd Avenue. The modified 23rd Avenue is being designed to improve mobility through the corridor, but it will not include a protected bike lane (or “cycle track”). People on foot and riding bikes may prefer a calmer route. For those reasons, and to help achieve Seattle’s goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, SDOT is installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway near this busy arterial.

Neighborhood greenways are safer, calm residential streets that provide a more comfortable environment for people to walk, run and bike. Starting with a good foundation (a street with already low car volumes and speeds), small improvements are made that add up to a big difference. Improvements can include adding speed humps, signage, and pavement markings, reducing the speed limit, and making crossings easier by adding curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, medians, or traffic signals at busy intersections.

The project is separated into three phases.

  • Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)
  • Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)
  • Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)

Previous outreach efforts focused primarily on Phase 1 of the project. We are completing final design for Phase 1 now and anticipate that its construction will begin this fall.

The drop-in sessions next week will review in greater detail the elements and route options for Phases 2 and 3.

Drop-in Session Details

Phase 2: South Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue South

Tuesday, July 15, 4:30 – 7 PM

St. Mary’s Church School House (611 20th Avenue South)

 

Phase 3: East John Street to East Roanoke Street.

Thursday, July 17, 4 – 6:30 PM

Miller Community Center (330 19th Avenue East)

 

Please feel free to come to either session, as we will have knowledgeable staff available to answer your questions and hear your feedback about all details of the project.

 

For more information about this project, please visit our project website:

http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/centralgreenway.htm

 

If you have questions or comments about the project or drop-in sessions, please contact: Maribel Cruz, Communications Lead (206) 684-7963 • maribel.cruz@seattle.gov

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What do trees, public safety and play streets have in common?

On June 25, 2014 Mayor Ed Murray announced his Summer of Safety Initiative. The initiative sets up a coordinated approach to public safety across city departments that will mobilize resources to change our built environment, activate our streets and provide jobs for our youth and young adults. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is one of the key departments actively involved in the initiative.

Neighborhood  street before pruning work.

Neighborhood street before pruning work.

SDOT will focus on two key areas over the summer. The first will make changes to the built environment. This piece actively involves SDOT’s Urban Forestry Division.   The division is charged with overseeing the more than 40,000 trees in the public right-of-way (ROW) and maintaining the 123 acres of landscapes that relate to the transportation system. How do they work to improve public safety you ask? Well, through tree pruning, especially around street lights, and landscape management we can make a street more inviting to the public while providing few places for criminal activity. Much of the work completed by SDOT’s Urban Forestry Division is possible thanks to the Bridging the Gap transportation levy passed by Seattle voters in 2006. Funding from the levy has been key in allowing SDOT to prune more than 23,000 trees, plant more than 5,500 trees and maintain street landscapes across the city.

Seattle residents are invited to attend one of the remaining “Find it, Fix it” walks being hosted by the City. Each of these Community Safety Walks will help residents identify safety issues present in the built environment of Seattle’s neighborhoods. Department Representatives will be on hand to answer questions and serve as resources for residents.

Same street after Urban Forestry Pruned trees and cut back vegetation overgrowth.

Same street after Urban Forestry Pruned trees and cut back vegetation overgrowth.

  • July 8: Orcas and Martin Luther King Jr Way
  • July 22: Sound Transit tour, between Rainier Beach and Othello Stations
  • July 29: Rainier Avenue and Genesee
  • August 12: Rainier Beach

For more information on the Summer of Safety Initiative, please visit their webpage.

SDOT’s second area of focus this summer will be to help community members activate the public spaces around them. SDOT will work with residents to help them create a Play Street in their neighborhood. Under this pilot program, residents can apply to close one block of street to traffic so the kids (and adults) can have more space to play. Many cities across the country have Play Streets, including New York City. This program will give kids of all ages more space to be active and they support FUN for everyone! For information on how you can create a Play Street, please contact Diane Walsh at diane.walsh@seattle.gov, (206) 386-4575.

If you have questions or would like more information about the SDOT Urban Forestry Tree Program, please visit Urban Forestry’s website. In addition, if you have concerns about specific trees in your neighborhood, please call the citywide tree line at (206) 684-TREE.

If you would like additional information on BTG please visit their website.

 

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Construction Safety Day!

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As construction hits its busiest time of the year, we’re staying on our toes when it comes to safety. The great weather encourages families to be out and about and children to play outdoors in their neighborhoods.Kids  w speaker at frnt_P1160215RESIZE 2

We recently spent an afternoon at Small Faces Child Development Center in Ballard, and it was fantastic to see the interest and excitement of the children, who ranged in ages from 3 to 10 years old. They learned everything from how to read common construction signs to how to recognize unsafe situations and make safe decisions.

Between questions, the attentive group greeted with great enthusiasm the Kids trying on vests_RESIZE 2opportunity to try on construction vests and hard hats. And needless to say, these young safety scholars passed the test at the end with flying colors.

To help keep your child safe during summer construction, remind them of these 5 safety tips:

  • Do not walk, run, ride, or play in a construction area. Avoid a construction zone whenever possible.
  • P1160185small HolmanRESIZEAlways walk on a sidewalk or designated walkway. Slow down and follow signs that tell you where to walk, skateboard or bicycle.
  • Be alert to closure signs; avoid distractions such as using cell phones, headphones, video games or other hand-held devices.
  • Stop, look and listen for construction vehicles. Be sure to make eye contact with drivers of construction vehicles to make sure you are seen.
  • Stay outside of orange cones, construction fences and chain link fences.

A big thank you to Small Faces for hosting our presentation!

 

 

 

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Speed in a construction zone and your wallet will get thinner!

You may have noticed that throughout much of this month our blogs have focused on construction as June is truly the beginning of our heaviest construction season. Did you know that speeding in a construction zone could snag you a big fine or even jail time? Why you ask? Because of the strong potential for injury or death to the construction workers, the fine is doubled in the state of Washington and the penalty cannot be waived, suspended or reduced.  Furthermore, 15th 2RESIZEconstruction workers do not have to be present nor do signs have to be posted warning drivers of the enhanced fines.

So, what is the definition of a construction zone? It is any location where public employees or private contractors are doing construction, maintenance or repair work on or next to a public roadway. A fine can be implemented even if the workers are not present because the driving conditions are such that the zone is unsafe for driving at higher speeds. If a motorist drives in what could be considered a reckless manner  in a construction zone that could endanger a worker, that driver could be charged with reckless endangerment (RCW 9A.36.050) which us considered a gross misdemeanor. If found guilty, the drive may be given jail time in addition to the fine and suspension of the driver’s license.

We’re proud of our workers who are building safer road conditions for all of us and they, in turn, deserve safe working conditions.

For more information please see: Washington State Laws and Funds . For more on Negligent driving, please see RCW 46.61.524

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