Safety and Mobility Improvements on the way for 23 Avenue

SDOT crews will begin the first phase of rebuilding 23rd Avenue between S Jackson and E John streets in April.  This project will improve safety and mobility for everyone who drives, walks, bikes and takes transit in the Central Area.

Tonight, SDOT will share info about what to expect during construction with community members, business owners and commuters at an open house at Garfield High School. Check out the info for yourself by visiting our online open house!

Phase 1 Construction on 23 Avenue

Phase 1 Construction on 23 Avenue

What’s the project?

SDOT will rebuild this stretch of 23rd Avenue from four narrow lanes to three wider lanes, resulting in one lane in each direction, plus a center turn lane. The project also includes widening and repairing sidewalks, improving transit speed and reliability, replacing the 100-year-old water main under the roadway, and installing new street lights and public art. While a bike lane will not be included on 23rd Avenue, SDOT is currently installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway on residential streets adjacent to 23rd Avenue as a calmer route for people walking or riding bikes.

This project design resulted from nearly two years of traffic analysis, engineering, and community outreach. The improvements are designed to reduce collisions in accordance with the city’s Vision Zero campaign to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

What can the public expect during construction?

The entire project will be divided into three work zones to minimize impacts on businesses, residents and the travelling public. Crews will start work in the work zone between E Cherry Street and S Jackson Street – see map at right. Major construction for all three work zones is expected to be complete by late 2016.

During construction, local residents and commuters can expect delays while construction is active in a given work zone. Due to the narrow width of the street, crews will close northbound 23rd Avenue to all traffic with detours to Martin Luther King Jr Way. Other traffic impacts include reduced lanes for southbound traffic, nighttime and weekend closures of major intersections, short-term pedestrian detours, short-term water service interruptions, and Metro bus detours.

Visit the project Web page

Attend the online open house

Questions? Call the project hotline – 206-727-8857 Email –


Move Seattle – Progressing towards the Seattle of tomorrow

What is Move Seattle?

Move Seattle is the Mayor and SDOT’s vision for how to integrate all of our planning for different travel modes into a holistic, 10-year strategic plan for transportation.  It builds from the Council-adopted modal plans, describing how they work together as a whole.  It includes strategic goals, near-term (3-year) and long-term (10-year) commitments for SDOT, and accountability measures, as well as a 10-year list of large capital project priorities. It is organized around Mayor Murray’s vision for Seattle as a safe, interconnected, affordable, vibrant and innovative city.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Mayor Ed Murray with community members at Move Seattle event.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Mayor Ed Murray with community members at Move Seattle event.

Delivering the following near-term actions in the next three years will help us meet our goals:

Roll out a coordinated Vision Zero program:

  • Implement 20 mph speed zones in residential areas on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, starting with areas with the highest crash rates
  • Carry out 5 corridor safety projects, including on Rainier Ave S, 35th Ave SW, Lake City Way, and SW Roxbury St
  • Reduce arterial speed limits to 30 mph or lower to improve safety
  • Create a traffic safety education kit for community groups and schools to promote road safety and Vision Zero
  • Partner with Seattle Police Department to conduct routine enforcement in areas with high crash rates
  • Partner with SPD to install at least 12 new school zone cameras
  • Improve school walking routes at up to 12 locations and upgrade school zone signage at up to 15 locations each year


Repair critical infrastructure to increase safety:

  • Repair up to 25 blocks of damaged sidewalk each year
  • Complete construction of the Yesler Avenue over Fourth Avenue bridge replacement and begin construction of the seismic retrofit of the 45th Avenue Viaduct East Bridge Approach and the replacement of the Post Avenue Bridge
  • Begin seismic retrofit of Seattle’s remaining unreinforced bridges
  • Rehabilitate up to 5 stairways each year


Enhance mobility and access:

  • Synchronize the downtown signal system
  • Establish a 24-hour Traffic Management Center to better manage traffic and incident response 24/7
  • Implement adaptive signal control along the Mercer Corridor, Denny Way, and 23rd Avenue
  • Develop an iconic Seattle transit map to make Seattle’s transit system easier to understand
  • Expand Transit Screen displays to 20 buildings to improve access to transportation information
  • Partner to design and launch a real-time multimodal travel and wayfinding app


Improve transit and maximize bus service and ridership growth:

  • Implement “Always on Time” bus routes by focusing transit capital improvements on the routes that serve most Seattle residents
  • Ensure that 75% of Seattle households are within a 10-minute walk of bus routes with service every 15 minutes or better
  • Install red bus-only lanes and transit priority improvements at pinch points and implement targeted enforcement to ensure bus-only lanes operate effectively
  • Upgrade bus stops and stations by implementing a street furniture program and adding real-time information signs and better lighting to busy bus stops
  • Begin construction of bus rapid transit on Madison Street
  • Begin construction of the Center City Streetcar Connector and the Broadway Extension on Capitol Hill

Bump up Seattle’s bikeability:

  • Install 1,500 bike parking spaces over the next three years
  • Encourage businesses to install bike racks in the right of way and work with building owners to increase quality off-street bike parking
  • Enhance bicycle commute programs available to employees


How were the strategic goals in Move Seattle established?

The five strategic goals in Move Seattle are consistent with Mayor Murray’s vision for Seattle:  A safe city, and interconnected city, an affordable city, a vibrant city, and an innovative city.  The document discusses how SDOT’s actions and investments will advance those larger city goals.

How did you prioritize the projects in Move Seattle?

The Seattle Department of Transportation rigorously prioritizes the large capital projects it recommends to City Council and the Mayor as part of the budget every year. This same prioritization process was used for the projects in Move Seattle.  Looking at factors as diverse as safety data and economic development potential, critical maintenance needs and potential to improve key transit, bike or freight routes, a list of 17 large capital projects over the next 10 years is proposed in the plan.

What was the public process for Move Seattle?

Move Seattle is a mayoral initiative that builds on adopted City policy in the modal master plans and other documents, such as the Seattle Comprehensive Plan. While the Move Seattle initiative did not have an individualized public engagement campaign, the policies it integrates were all subject to extensive public feedback and Council adoption.

Is Move Seattle the same as a potential Bridging the Gap transportation levy renewal?

No. The vision outlined in Move Seattle is much broader than what can be achieved through a transportation levy and involves many different sources of funding including grants, partnerships and other revenues sources. A replacement source of funding for the Bridging the Gap levy will be necessary, but is not sufficient, to realize the full vision in Move Seattle. Staff at SDOT are working closely with the Mayor’s office on planning for a transportation levy, and will have more information to share on that separate subject in the coming weeks. For more information:

Access Seattle fixes unpermitted sidewalk blockage!

People walking along a sidewalk on the west side of E Union Street, near 24th Avenue, had to make an abrupt stop today when they saw this:

West side of E Union Street between 25th and 24th avenues – morning of February 27, 2015

Some concerned folks Tweeted our City Traffic Engineer, who immediately alerted our Street Use Division. Right then Permit Services gave the contractor a notice to “open the sidewalk immediately,” while inpectors were dispatched to confirm that the unsafe and unpermitted condition was rectified. In less than three hours the E Union Street walkway up the hill toward 24th Avenue was open…

West side of E Union Street at 24th Avenue – afternoon of February 27, 2015

Seattle Department of Transportation inspectors, permit reviewers and Construction Hub site coordinators are all working to keep Seattle mobile. It’s our Access Seattle initiative and we thank you for being a part of it!


Safe Routes to Mercer Middle School Update

As a member of the Safe Kids Seattle Coalition, SDOT began working with Mercer Middle School in 2012. A traffic circulation plan was developed for the school, a pedestrian and bicycle safety workshop was held for parents and staff, students who walked and biked to school received prizes and were entered into a drawing for a new IPod Shuffle, and sidewalk improvements were completed that made it easier to walk and bike to school. Additional projects were also identified by staff and students that would make it easier and safer to walk and bike to school. As SDOT closed out the program at Mercer in 2012, we applied for a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Safe Routes to School program and crossed our fingers that we would be able to return to Mercer in the future to complete some of those additional projects that the school community identified.

A walking audit led by Safe Kids Seattle included parents, staff, and neighbors, identifying the school’s top traffic safety concerns.

A walking audit led by Safe Kids Seattle included parents, staff, neighbors, identifying the school’s top traffic safety concerns.

Recently, SDOT was awarded that grant from WSDOT which allowed us to return to Mercer Middle School with a second Safe Routes to School program. The campaign was kicked off in the fall of 2014 with our partners in the Seattle Safe Routes to School Partnership. A walk and bike audit was conducted where parents and children received disposable cameras and took notes to document their findings. A report is being produced to document those findings. Additionally, an after-school bike club is being formed; a 6-week bike safety program will be offered to all students and staff; and a one-hour assembly featuring bike arts and safety skills is planned.

There’s also funding to build one of the projects that was identified as a top priority during that first Safe Routes to School program in 2012. A new shared-use path will be constructed along Jefferson Park providing a safer, more direct connection for kids walking and biking between the school, the Beacon Food Forest and North Beacon Hill neighborhood. The project will improve safety by providing an off-street trail as an alternative to walking or biking along busy traffic on 15th Avenue S. The new path will also serve as a connection between two neighborhood greenways. The project will achieve 100% design in March with construction planned to begin in late 2015.

Mercer Trail: A new shared-use path will be constructed along Jefferson Park later this year.

Mercer Trail: A new shared-use path will be constructed along Jefferson Park later this year.

In addition to funding from WSDOT, this program is supported by local matching funds provided by the School Speed Zone Safety Camera revenue.

For more on Safe Routes to Mercer Middle School:

New Bike Leaning Rails and Improvements Installed at Burke-Gilman Crossing!

Hey Bikers and Trail Users,

The new Bicycle Leaning Rails have been installed at 25th Avenue NE and NE Blakeley Street along the Burke-Gilman Trail crossing, and are ready to use!

These rails and foot rests allow riders to rest an arm and/or foot when waiting at the trail intersection. Crews working for SDOT began installing the foot rests and rails last week in addition to the new wider bike-and-pedestrian friendly Curb Ramps. Please check out our latest Blog Video below:

Improvements to this intersection include:

  • Upgraded curb ramps to be compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Signal modifications for the new protected bicycle/pedestrian phase for the south crossing on the Burke-Gilman Trail with bicycle icon signal heads and push buttons are in the works and are expected to be finished by the end of March.
  • Signal modifications to accommodate a new right-turn only pocket and protected turning phase on the west side of the intersection for eastbound motorists on NE Blakeley Street are also in the works and are expected to be finished soon.
New Bike Leaning Rail open and being used.

New Bike Leaning Rail open and being used.

New Wider ADA Curb Ramps.

New Curb Ramps at 25th Avenue NE and NE Blakeley Street.


The Bike Leaning Rails are already used in places like Copenhagen, Denmark and Chicago, and allow bicyclists to rest their foot and have something to hold onto for balance while waiting at the traffic light rather than using traffic light posts or other poles around them.



The rails also help align bike riders to one side of the trail so the sidewalk is kept clear for pedestrians, making it safer for all to cross the street.

We’ve also made improvements to the intersection of 30th Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail by building a raised crosswalk that alerts drivers of this crossing with the intent of slowing vehicle speeds. Raised crosswalks also help improve visibility between motorists and pedestrians and help maintain a level crossing for people biking, walking or with disabilities.

Crew Adrian and Jonathan Install Leaning Rail.

Installation Crew Adrian and Jonathan set new Leaning Rail.

This project is the first of its kind in Seattle; SDOT will be evaluating potential future sites.

Biker and Signs KeeperYou can learn more about this project by

Meetings Set for Rainier Avenue S Road Safety Corridor Project

Rainier Postcard (2)

Residents living in the vicinity of Rainier Avenue S will receive the postcard (pictured above) inviting them to Design Alternatives Review meetings for this road safety corridor project. More than 1200 collisions have occurred on Rainier since 2011 resulting in 630 injuries and two fatalities. SDOT has developed several different engineering options to improve safety for all modes on Rainier. Please join us to review and to provide feedback into these options.

Here are the details:

Thursday, Feb. 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbia School – Cafeteria/Commons, 3528 S Ferdinand St (please use the South Edmunds St entrance and parking area)

Tuesday, Mar. 3, from 6 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Ethiopian Community Center, 8323 Rainier Ave S

The input you provide will help shape the direction of our work. Be sure to check out the excellent data about the corridor on our website prior to the meetings to familiarize yourself with the issues.

And to see what we’ve done on other road safety corridors, follow these links:

NE 75th Street Road Safety Corridor

Lake City Way Traffic Safety Corridor

SDOT Safety Programs

SDOT Crews Taking (and Building) Steps to Reconnect Neighborhoods Update!

Back in December we shared our first SDOT video post featuring SDOT crew (Kurt and Brett) working hard to replace and build a new stairway that would reconnect South Grand Street from Bradner Place at the top of the hill to South Grand at 28th Avenue South.  The stairway is now open and permanent steel handrails will be installed soon.

Now neighbors and families with children can easily get to and from Bradner Gardens Park and the community P-Patch above the stairway to the east, to nearby Colman Playground and other nearby parks below the stairway to the west. This and other SDOT projects are working to improve the infrastructure, and enhance mobility throughout the city.


New Stairway Facing East


New Stairway facing West

New Stairway facing west









Here’s the original video post from December:

The original stairway was built in the 1930’s and was steep, narrow, and overgrown with trees and bushes making it look like what was described as a “hobbit hole”.

The task of making a new wider stairway that is up to modern code required clearing the overgrown tree canopy above and around the entrance at the top, demolishing and recycling the old stairway, and then widening the path, then creating a landing after the first twenty steps to project the stairway out from the hillside which decreased the angle and steepness of the stairway.

Stairway Pix 4

New stairway – in progress

SDOT carpenters Kurt and Brett are part of two person crews who work on these projects from start to finish. This involves clearing of foliage, demolition, engineering and framing of the new stairway for concrete pouring, and building the rails to ensure a safe, accessible new stairway.

Stairway Pix 8

Stairway before

Stairway Pix 2

Stairway in progress

The Bradner Place stairway project started in November and is expected to be completed by February, we’ll bring you an update once it completed.

Stairway Pix 3

Vision Zero Seattle – A Vision for Safer Streets for All

Seattle is one of the safest cities in the country. We’re also the fastest growing major city in the country. The good news is that crashes are trending downward. But last year, 15 people died in traffic collisions. In 2013, 23 people died. Every year, close to 155 people are seriously injured and more than 10,000 crashes occur. That’s nearly 30 crashes every day. The emotional impact this has on families, friends, and the broader community is unspeakable. And there are significant economic consequences as well.

We can do better. We must do better.

That’s why today, Mayor Murray and other city leaders announced Vision ZeroSeattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Vision Zero is a worldwide movement that calls into question the inevitability of death and injury on our streets. With today’s announcement, Seattle is making a clear statement that death on our streets is unacceptable and preventable, and we’re going to do something about it.

Vizion Zero

Seattle’s actions moving forward in 2015 focus on three key pieces:

  1. Roadway design that takes human error into account and creates a safer, more predictable environment for all travelers.
  2. Targeted education and public engagement that empowers people to make better decisions
  3. Data-driven enforcement that targets high crash areas and key behaviors


Specific actions include:

  • Lower speed limit to 20 MPH on neighborhood streets (non-arterials)
  • Lower arterial speed limits
  • Targeted safety improvements on high collision corridors, paired with enforcement to reduce speed, impairment, and distraction
  • Re-enforcement patrols to reward good behavior
  • Expanded photo enforcement program
  • Community partnerships to expand education and enforcement efforts


These are tried and true strategies that work. We see them working here in Seattle, and want to apply them more, so we can improve safety for all travelers, especially as our city continues to grow.


Today, Mayor Murray launched Vision Zero at the Lake City Library where we’re putting these tactics to work. The neighborhood streets surrounding the library will soon become a 20 MPH Zone — a new strategy to bring a higher level of safety near places like schools and parks. We’ll accomplish this by using low cost measures like signs and pavement markings.

20 MPH Zone near Olympic Hills Greenway

20 MPH Zone near Olympic Hills Greenway

This 20 MPH Zone is near the recently completed Olympic Hills Greenway – a new facility where we’ve added speed humps, sharrows, and crossing improvements to improve safety for people walking, biking, and driving. And to the south, we’ve got the recently overhauled NE 125th Street.


Just to the east, on busy Lake City Way, we’ve partnered with residents and the State to bring extra patrols and safety education to the corridor. Data-driven infrastructure investments will significantly enhance the built environment, reduce collisions and improve conditions for everyone.

Lake City Way NE

Lake City Way NE

This is Vision Zero.

Learn more about Vision Zero at

Mercer Corridor Project – The Importance of Improving Infrastructure

The Mercer Corridor Project West Phase is progressing toward completion later this year. After a few years of construction in the Mercer Corridor, with associated restrictions in mobility for all modes, Mercer Street, with new lanes, concrete pavement and sidewalks, and separated bike lanes will be fully operational.

West Mercer Update

Mercer Corridor Aerial Concept

The Mercer Corridor links I-5 to Elliot Ave. W and is one of the most critical east/west routes in the city serving tens of thousands of travelers and freight haulers every day in Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhood. Prior to construction, the Mercer Corridor was a one-way eastbound arterial (Mercer St.) with an indirect westbound route that caused delays and created conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. In addition, the Mercer Corridor had an inadequate pedestrian environment, with narrow and aging sidewalks, no separate bicycle lanes, and obsolete traffic signals. Each of these issues was addressed as part of the Mercer Corridor Project design. The Mercer West Project will:

Widen Mercer Street to create a two-way arterial with three lanes in each direction across SR99:

  • Affects 37,000 daily drivers heading west from I-5
  • Reduces vehicle miles traveled (VMT) which leads to reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Provides direct truck connections between I-5 and the Ballard-Interbay Manufacturing and Industrial Center.
  • Provides a connection between the SR 99 Bored Tunnel and neighborhoods west of SR 99.
  • Reduces conflicts between vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
Mercer Street facing East

Mercer Street facing East

Upgrade signals

  • Will adapt to changing traffic conditions
  • More energy efficient
Mercer Street at 5th Ave

Mercer Street at 5th Ave

Improve pedestrian mobility and access

  • Creates safe convenient crossings at intersections on Mercer and Roy streets, and brings crossings into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Widens sidewalks on Mercer St. across SR99
  • Removes major conflict points between turning traffic and pedestrians.


Improve bicycle mobility and access

  • Creates a continuous bicycle connection from Fairview Ave N to Queen Anne Ave N with bicycle lanes on Valley and Roy streets and a separated pathway on Mercer across SR 99.
  • Provides the first block of future separated bike lanes on Fifth Ave N between Mercer and Denny Way.


Replace aging infrastructure

  • New concrete pavement on Mercer St.
  • New Sixth Ave N connecting Mercer to Harrison St, as well as the SR 99 Tunnel.
  • Replaces the SR99 bridge over Mercer St, bringing it to current seismic standards.
  • Reinforces the retaining wall on the north side of Mercer St.
  • Installs energy-efficient LED street lights
  • Replaces 80-115 year old water and sewer mains
  • Installs new stormwater detention facilities and treatment facilities to protect Lake Union
  • Undergrounds the 115 kV Broad-University Transmission Line
  • Installs Distribution System Capacity Enhancements for Seattle City Light’s customers


Although construction has been lengthy, the Mercer Corridor Project is an investment in our economy and our future. The Mercer Corridor Project improvements will support the 38,000 new jobs and 18,000 new households expected in the area by 2024.

The projected benefit of the Mercer West Project attributed to the investment in new infrastructure is estimated to be $100 M to $350 M over the next 25 years. The cost-benefit analysis is summarized in the Federal Highway Administration TIGER IV Grant Application, which is located on the project website:

SDOT 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: or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-419-5818.

You’re Part of Access Seattle

Have you heard of Access Seattle? You’ve likely seen its results in the form of better access around construction sites, with much of the assessing and coordinating done before construction begins. The effort to keep Seattle mobile and thriving during construction booms involves the Construction Hub Coordination Program and works in part because of you —  eyes on the street.

Site Coordinators are out regularly in the hub areas, partnering with Street Use inspectors across the city, to identify and help resolve infractions and hazards. More identified hubs are expected soon, but SDOT’s Street Use staff respond to access concerns regardless of location. Many concerns are raised by you – the collective community experiencing construction impacts where you live, work and travel. To collaborate more with you, save the email to your mobile phone and email when/if you see things like the examples below. If the area in question is not in a currently identified Hub, we’ll let our inspectors know what’s up!

Poor signage and pathways near 1601 N 34th Street

Poor signage and pathways near 1601 N 34th Street


Unpermitted queuing on 11th Avenue in Capitol Hill



Unapproved traffic control near 1414 10th Avenue on Capitol Hill

All of the infractions shown above were rectified by the Access Seattle team–Construction Hub staff and Street Use inspectors–from requiring long-idling construction vehicles to leave unpermitted areas to issuing citations and working with the contractor to immediately improve the traffic control set-up. Some fixes are small, like adjusting sidewalk signage to clear the pedestrian pathway (see below) that that the first photo in our story depicts.

Pedestrian pathway cleared, near 1601 N 34th Street

Pedestrian pathway cleared, near 1601 N 34th Street

Pedestrian safety is a priority, with our Access Seattle staff always working to improve pathways.

N Northlake Place near 1601 N 34th St

N Northlake Place near 1601 N 34th St

Pedestrian pathway installation where fencing at 665 King St had blocked access

There are of course many examples of great construction site management and contractor efforts to lessen the impacts of their work on the community. We’ll talk about that in weeks to come, along with more infraction highlights and their remedies.


In the meantime, know that Access Seattle is always working for you, negotiating for things like better pedestrian access when a project proposes closing sidewalks entirely; bringing multiple projects together to talk about ways to contribute to neighborhood needs, like street parking; or arranging for methods to improve project sites to lessen negative impacts like littering and tagging.


As you can imagine, there are a lot of sites across Seattle needing TLC/enforcement, but we’re also trying to build capacity to respond. Our small but nimble team is on it, and looking to grow with you.