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Archive for 'Safety'

Forecast Calls for Rain and Long Nights – Fall Safety Preparedness

Seattle had one of the nicest summers in recent memory which seemed to last into early October. But after this week’s heavy downpours, windy conditions and pertually gray skies, it’s clear that summer’s over.

Those long summer days are turning into long fall nights and that trend will accelerate in just a little more than a week. The sun will set at 6:05 PM today allowing most of our afternoon peak hour commute to occur with the support of daylight. Seattle, you have one more work week to enjoy these conditions. Daylight savings time ends next Sunday when we ‘fall back’. Starting November 2nd, the sun will start setting before 5 PM.

Our collision data indicates that we have a tough time adjusting to these changing conditions. October is our worst month for crashes in Seattle and November’s not great either. By December we seem to modify our behaviors and collisions drop accordingly despite even longer nights and plenty of that wet stuff that falls from the sky that Seattle is known for.

Serious collisions by month

Serious collisions by month

A 2007 study by professors Paul Fischbeck and David Gerard of Carnegie Mellon University found that pedestrians walking during the evening are nearly three times more likely to be stuck and killed by cars in the weeks after the time change. The study found that it is not the darkness itself that leads to the increase in incidents but the adjustment to earlier nighttime. Pedestrian fatalities decline with each passing month as we adapt to the darker conditions.

With the time change right around the corner and Halloween just a week away (watch for kids!), here are a few tips to help everyone get from Point A to Point B safely:

1. Be visible. Take extra measures to ensure you can be seen when you walk and bike on our streets. Wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective gear so drivers can spot you.

2. Make good decisions when you walk, bike, or drive. Don’t drive distracted (anything from talking on your cell phone to adjusting your costume) and make sure you have a safe way to get home if you plan to party.

3. Take it slow. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. With speed, the frequency and severity of collisions increases.

4. Follow the rules. Drivers should know that every intersection is a legal crosswalk – whether there are pavement markings or not – so drivers should almost always stop for pedestrians. Pedestrians should cross the street at intersections or crosswalks where drivers expect to see you.

5. Always be alert on our streets. A crosswalk is not a suitable location to check your phone and it’s not a good idea to listen to music while bike commuting. Take an active role in safety by keeping your eyes and ears on the road.

 

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Future Northgate Connection for Bikes & Peds

Interstate 5 is a critical transportation corridor for Seattle. It helps move people and goods north and south through the center of our city, often at high speeds, unhindered by pedestrians crossing at intersections or bicyclists of various abilities in – or even alongside – the roadway.

Interstate 5 is also an immense obstacle to transportation in the east-west direction wherever the freeway is not lidded or elevated. Where a major arterial does cross, it often has both on- and off-ramps well suited to vehicles, but not particularly friendly for bicyclists or pedestrians.

A new Sound Transit light rail station will soon be built next to the existing King County Metro transit station at 1st Avenue NE and NE 100th Street. The need to connect this transportation hub to the west side of I-5 has become paramount, expressed in planning documents, by public feedback and via support for funding.

Caption:  Artist’s depiction of planned bridge looking west along NE 100th Street

Caption: Artist’s depiction of planned bridge looking west along NE 100th Street

SDOT has responded by planning a new 15-20 wide bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians across I-5 at 100th Street. It would include a ramp on either side to return users to ground level at a less than 5% incline and at least one stairwell on the east side. The bridge would make a direct connection to the mezzanine level of the new light rail station, and would also connect to a new cycle track along 1st Avenue NE.The basic alignment is now being established in consultation with WSDOT, Sound Transit, King County Metro and the North Seattle College (where the landing on the west side will be). The bridge type is also being determined, after which design will begin in earnest.

The planning level estimate for this project is $25M; the City of Seattle and Sound Transit have each agreed to provide $5M towards the cost if the remaining funding is identified by July 2015.

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

www.seattle.gov/transportation/northgatepedbridge.htm

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact: Art Brochet, Communications Lead (206) 615-0786 • art.brochet@seattle.gov

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Curb Ramps Increase Mobility for Many

 

blindperson adn curbrampwheelchair and curbrampThose who travel in wheelchairs or motorized scooters, the sight impaired who use canes, or people pushing strollers or walking a bike, depend on curb ramps to easily move between the sidewalk and the street level. The sloped ramps, generally located at intersection corners, have become commonplace throughout Seattle and the rest of the nation.

All SDOT construction projects that touch intersection sidewalks require the installation of curb ramps meet ADA Accessibility Guidelines. Naturally, these standards have changed and improved since the ADA was first enacted in 1996, meaning that many of the city’s existing ramps fall short of the guidelines. For example, current standards require that curb ramps be wholly contained within a marked crosswalk and include detectible warnings so that pedestrians can easily determine the boundary between the sidewalk and the street, both intended to make them safer for their users. The required tactile warning surfaces provide a surface that is distinguishable underfoot and by cane. Also, they are generally bright yellow in color to contrast with the surrounding area, such that they provide a visual cue for low-vision pedestrians.Curb Ramp Photo Callout

While many curb ramps are replaced when adjacent sidewalks and/or streets are rebuilt or resurfaced, SDOT also works to replace other substandard ramps as funding becomes available, as mandated by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),. Each year, SDOT conducts a curb ramp inventory, prioritizing replacement on the basis of such factors as neighborhood demographics, proximity to transit connections, and the proximity to places with significant numbers of pedestrians, such as commercial districts, schools, parks, and hospitals.

The latest SDOT curb ramp replacement project (unrelated to adjacent road construction) is currently scheduled to begin construction in December, and will replace 163 curb ramps at 29 locations throughout the city. Many of these locations are at residential intersections that currently lack any curb ramps at all, while others are replacements in more commercial areas. Construction will generally have a limited impact on those living or working nearby, with work at each intersection taking two to three weeks, but with the temporary closure of some nearby on-street parking.

In addition, citizens with disabilities can request curb ramp installations at locations otherwise not scheduled for construction, which SDOT will install as funding becomes available. Under current conditions, it may take up to three years from approval to installation. To request a curb ramp, contact Brian Dougherty at 206/684-5124 or complete this online form.

Installing and maintaining curb ramps is one critical element in SDOT’s commitment to deliver a safe and reliable transportation system that serves all of Seattle’s citizens.curbrampblog

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The first seawall face panels are installed south of Colman Dock

Seawall

The new seawall face is lowered into place with a crane and secured to the concrete support slab.

On October 4, the Elliott Bay Seawall Project installed the first segment of the new seawall face. The individual panels were lifted into place with a crane in a similar manner to how the original seawall was constructed. Because the activity is tidally influenced, this work was completed in the early morning hours while the tide was at its lowest.

The new face of the seawall will be 10 to 15 feet farther inland than the old seawall face. This extra room will provide space for habitat features, including marine mattresses that provide shallow habitat for marine life as they travel along the seawall, and glass blocks in the overhanging sidewalk that allow light to pass through to the water below. The face of the new seawall is textured to provide a surface for algae and other marine organisms to attach – a great source of food for migrating salmon.

The new wall is made up of eight foot wide panels that each weigh approximately 18,000 pounds. In the past two weeks, 160 feet of new seawall has been installed south of Colman Dock. To see how the activity was completed, check out the latest snapshot video.

For more information about seawall construction, visit the Seawall Project website. If you have questions, email the Seawall Project (seawall@waterfrontseattle.org) or call the 24-hour hotline (206.618.8584).

 

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Access Seattle: Working for South Lake Union Mobility

SLU

Map of SLU construction – click to enlarge

If you’ve visited Seattle’s unique South Lake Union neighborhood lately, you’ve likely seen not only the many attractions in this booming community but also the significant construction. In fact, South Lake Union is one of the neighborhoods identified by SDOT as a construction hub, or area experiencing multiple, simultaneous construction projects in close proximity and with considerable cumulative impacts. Those impacts often hamper mobility. That’s one of the reasons the Access Seattle Initiative came to be, to better serve the city through its growth and development surge.

Access Seattle is an initiative launched in 2013 to keep Seattle moving during unprecedented pressure on our transportation system: from increasing population density; new employment centers; and, a significant construction surge. In the South Lake Union area, all three of these factors come into play, creating daily travel challenges for residents and businesses.

A major Access Seattle goal is to proactively plan and manage the city’s transportation system to move people and goods more effectively. The South Lake Union community has a similar goal, of sorts, as part of the South Lake Union/Uptown Triangle Mobility Plan. That plan lays out the community’s vision for all travel modes, to accommodate growth that, “…demands a paradigm shift in how people travel…” The integrated and interconnected neighborhood vision calls for partnerships; the Access Seattle team is working to be one of those partners.

At a recent South Lake Union Community Council meeting, the Access Seattle team talked about progress coordinating multiple construction projects in the neighborhood. Very specific concerns of area residents and business owners were addressed, with results from direct coordination. Some of these concerns, with information the team identified and coordinated steps moving forward, are:

Harrison Street is blocked funneling all traffic to Republican Street and impacts public safety (by restricting access by emergency vehicles). 

The Harrison Street closure and limited emergency vehicle access are related. Off duty Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers were hired by Amazon to restrict street access in order to empty out the garages.

Moving Forward:   SPD will no longer close streets to address garage exiting.  Any such closures must be coordinated with SDOT’s Traffic Management Center in advance.

People avoid the neighborhood because of the traffic gridlock, which hurts local businesses

According to our community contacts, one of the biggest problems is the eastbound flow of traffic on Mercer East, which apparently backs up outside of peak hours.

Moving Forward:  In less than a week, another eastbound lane of Mercer is expected to open up, which will require retiming all the signals and should provide some relief for eastbound flow. Our signal timing engineers will be monitoring the changes and are happy to meet with any members of the community to see how we can make improvements after these changes are complete.

Efforts on the City’s part to coordinate construction to alleviate impacts to parking, and on residents, are not adequate.

SDOT and OED have heard from many community members in construction hub neighborhoods that our efforts through Access Seattle are helping, but more is needed given the scale of the impacts.

Moving Forward:  The Mayor’s Proposed Budget includes additional staffing in 2015 to increase our inspection presence in the field.  We also plan to release more regular traveler information in multiple formats so people can be aware of known impacts.

Residential developments are being constructed without adequate parking.  The community is still experiencing parking impacts, in part due to contractors getting to the neighborhood early and taking up all the available parking all day.

The larger South Lake Union projects all have the amount of parking required by code. There is also an existing Residential Parking Zone.

Moving Forward: Parking enforcement officers have agreed to increase patrols in the area.  Additionally, DPD and SDOT will ramp up the requirements that the builders find off-street parking for their workers.  This is a practice some developers do voluntarily, others are required to due to permit conditions; in the future, we will look at making this a requirement for all large developments

Pedestrian Safety Issues. 

Ninth Ave is not a great situation for pedestrians given the projects along the corridor and many heavy trucks are coming through other parts of Cascade and South Lake Union.

Moving Forward: The builders will pay for SDOT traffic crews to change the signal timing so that we will have all-way walks at the intersections of 9th and Republican, 9th and Harrison, and 9th and Thomas. Additionally, SDOT will be installing all-way walk signals at John and Minor, Yale and Minor, and Yale and Thomas.

Concern about the upcoming Denny Substation construction and increased gridlock. 

The Denny Substation will move into the next phase of construction including running new distribution lines to the substation.  The scale of this construction is significant and there will be neighborhood impacts.

Moving Forward:  We are working closely with Seattle City Light (SCL) to coordinate this massive project.  We continue our efforts to coordinate impacts, keep lines of communication flowing, and resolve issues quickly to minimize the impacts to the neighborhood.

Construction noise regulations are based on a commercial zone, despite the fact that Cascade residents are numerous, including a significant number of low income housing developments. 

Moving Forward:  There is not currently a plan to amend the Noise Ordinance to include more restrictive construction hours in neighborhoods not currently covered by the code (such as Cascade).

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The work listed above is the result of the new Access Seattle Construction Coordination Program, looking at all permitted public and private construction schedules and impacts holistically. It builds on the SDOT Street Use permit process, taking it to new levels while building relationships and systems to better communicate. It also joins multiple City of Seattle Departments–Transportation, Planning & Development, Neighborhoods, and Economic Development–toward the common goal of keeping communities thriving.

For more information on the new program, visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/hub.htm

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Signs connecting our neighborhoods, thanks to Bridging the Gap

SNS-Ballard-1024x576_v2With the help of the Bridging the Gap Transportation levy the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is working to replace those old, faded hard to read regulatory and street name signs across the city. Through 2013, nearly 45,000 regulatory signs have been replaced and more than 9,800 intersections have seen new street name signs. So far in 2014, more than 700 intersections have received new street name signs and hard working SDOT crews have installed more than 2,400 new regulatory signs across the city.

All these new signs help better connect our communities make it easier for everyone to navigate the city – especially the new street name signs – something we are all very thankful for!

As noted in a previous blog post various street name signs – named and numbered – are available through the City of Seattle Fleets and Facilities surplus warehouse.   They have posted an updated list of available signs which range in price from $5 – 15. Please contact the warehouse directly if you are interested in purchasing a sign.

Please visit the Bridging the Gap web page for additional information about the program.

 

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Street Use Inspector Jumps in to Help

If you have a moment, we’d like to share our pride in a fellow SDOT employee. On Sept 24, 2014, Street Use Inspector Bryan Harris was conducting a routine inspection in the 1700 block of Melrose Avenue when he heard a crashing sound.

Harris rushed over to investigate and saw that a car had crashed into a concrete wall, was immobilized, and was blocking the westbound lane of East Denny Way—a major arterial that connects traffic from Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle.

Mr. Harris was aware of the potential major traffic back-up this blockage could cause and the potential negative experience for the traveling public. He immediately took the initiative to provide emergency flagging service, to ensure the safe flow of traffic through the accident scene and minimize the potential traffic back-up. All SDOT Street Use Inspectors have had flagger training and are certified flaggers.

Harris stayed at the scene for 45 minutes, until Seattle Police Department officials arrived and relieved him. Higher priority calls in other areas kept police officers busy, delaying response to this non-injury accident. In the meantime, Harris kept traffic safely flowing. We’re proud of Mr. Harris and his instinct to serve the public.

SDOT Street Use Inspector Bryan Harris

SDOT Street Use Inspector Bryan Harris

 

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Safe Routes to School grant program now accepting applications

Do you have a creative idea for promoting walking and biking to school? Looking for a source of funds to make your idea a reality? Look no further!

FPEWSB_KidVestThe Seattle Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for mini grants of up to $1,000 to fund projects that educate students about pedestrian and bicycle safety and encourage walking and bicycling to school. All you need to do is fill out a straightforward application form, get a letter of support from your school principal, and complete a summary report when you’ve finished your project highlighting all the great things you accomplished. It’s that simple!

Some examples of past projects funded by the Safe Routes to School Mini Grants include kick-starting a walking school bus with safety vests and flags for bus “drivers;” supporting walk to school month events with prizes and incentives for walkers; incentives for bike to school commuters, like bike locks, lights, and helmets; bicycle safety and maintenance classes to make sure kids know the rules of the road and how to keep their bikes in tip-top shape; traffic circulation plans and communication to make sure traffic flows as safely as possible around schools.

If you have an idea for a safety education or encouragement program, please visit our website www.cityofseattle.net/transportation/ped_srts_grant.htm for more information on how to apply for a mini-grant. In addition to the application, a letter of support from the school principal must be e-mailed, mailed, or faxed by the application due date. For questions, contact Ashley Harris at ashley.harris@seattle.gov. Completed applications are due October 31st, 2014 by 5pm and recipients will be announced by December 5th, 2014. Funds will be distributed in January 2015.

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Bridging the Gap – working to beat the end of year clock.

Fall arrived this past week right on schedule with cooler temperatures, shorter days and rain. While it has been a long and lovely summer there is still a lot of work to be completed. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews are working against the clock to wrap up their work for the year.

Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation initiative crews have been busy with lots of construction that will continue deep into the fall. SDOT crews are working to finish up more than 17 lane miles of paving, construct 7 blocks of new sidewalk, install 150 new curb ramps, repair 25 blocks of sidewalk, install 4 miles of greenways, replace 1,250 new street name signs, plant 500 trees, implement 45 crossing improvements and complete 190 bridge maintenance requests. As our crews complete their work plans for 2014, they are starting to look ahead and plan for 2015.

The end of summer saw SDOT complete its work on eight Safe Routes to School projects, the installation of 2441 new regulatory signs, three new stairways rehabilitated and the installation of 45 pedestrian countdown signals.

Before and after

Before and after

It has been a very busy year for BTG and SDOT crews! The arrival of fall as the days get shorter and darker please remember there is still a lot of work to be wrapped up before the end of 2014, please slow down and watch for SDOT crews doing this work to make Seattle a little easier to get around.

For more information on the BTG program please visit the web page.

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Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Kick-Off

Come join us as we kick-off a study to improve transit service, pedestrian and bike connections, and public space along Madison St. Learn more about the study and bus rapid transit, and share your knowledge and ideas with the project team.  The ultimate goal of the project is to give people along the corridor a more reliable, convenient, and enjoyable way to get around.

 When: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

                 5 – 7 p.m., with a brief presentation at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Silver Cloud Hotel

1100 Broadway (at Madison)

Seattle, WA 98122

This open house will launch a year-long study of bus rapid transit along Madison St from Colman Dock to 23rd Ave E.  What is bus rapid transit (BRT), you might be asking yourself? It’s the cream of the crop in bus service. It features things like dedicated transit lanes, frequent service, level boarding, and off-board fare payment.

926blogpost

Since June, we’ve been collecting information about existing conditions and talking with community members, businesses, and other organizations to help inform the scope and approach to the study.  At the open house, we’ll have information to share about the project timeline, existing conditions, and the basis for the project. Hint: it was a priority corridor identified in our Transit Master Plan.

We hope to engage a broad cross section of the community in a conversation at the open house to ensure we’ve captured the range of issues and opportunities for the study as we move forward.

You can learn more about the project at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/madisonBRT.htm. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with the project manager, Maria Koengeter at maria.koengeter@seattle.gov or (206) 733-9865.

 

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