Guarding Safety

SDOT is committed to making our streets safer for everyone, and we’re taking a big step by retrofitting all SDOT trucks with sideguards.

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Sideguards reduce the risk of serious injury or death by preventing pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles from being caught underneath a large truck. According a study in the U.K., fatalities from side-impact collisions with trucks were reduced by 61% for cyclists, and 20% for pedestrians, after sideguards were added.

Sideguards can also help save on gas by reducing air drag an increasing fuel efficiency.

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In addition to retrofitting all existing large trucks, SDOT is requiring all new large trucks be equipped with sideguards straight from the manufacturer.

To learn more about side guards, and how they help save lives and fuel, check out the U.S. Department of Transportation information page.

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Arterial Paving: A Capital Idea

Maintaining Seattle’s streets is one of the most important things we do at SDOT, and we have 6 major paving projects planned for 2017 as part of our arterial Paving Program.

Arterials are the primary routes for moving people and goods through the city, as well as connecting neighborhoods, business districts, and our region. Ongoing maintenance helps avoid more expensive major repairs in the future, and keeps our community moving today.

Part of the proposed 25th Ave NE paving project

Part of the proposed 25th Ave NE paving project

Arterial paving is supported by the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle, which makes it possible for us to pave up to 180 lane miles of arterial streets over nine years.

You can click on the below links for more information on each project’s schedule, impact, and how to get in touch with the team.

Remember, in 2016 the Seattle City Council lowered all arterial speed limits to 25mph unless otherwise posted.

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Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

Immigrant_Refugee-Sign-263x300The City of Seattle recently hosted an event called Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families, offering free legal services and other information to families who are new to our country. The City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) estimated that more than 1300 people attended.

SDOT and other city agencies were there to offer their services. SDOT’s role at the event was to address any transportation-related questions individuals or families had about getting around Seattle. Several local businesses and organizations were also there to offer services and information, from bank accounts to labor standards.

Bike and public transit routes, parking information, and help navigating the City contribute to a safer, more equitable transportation system for everyone. To connect with English and non-English speakers, SDOT offered this information in a variety of languages. We also provided information on the City’s Youth Orca Program, which offers Orca cards to income-eligible youth who live within a 2-mile radius from their school. SDOT works to ensure that all residents have access to transportation to help them get to work, home, and school. Follow us on Twitter (@seattledot) for the latest information.

According to OIRA, about 380 individuals got help with immigration consultations, 500 people attended “Know Your Rights” training sessions and more than 800 people volunteered their time for immigrant and refugee families at the event.

Mayor Ed Murray released a statement regarding President Trump’s Executive Order limiting immigrants and refugees from specific countries from entering the U.S.: “We are an inclusive, welcoming city for all – including our immigrant, refugee and Muslim friends, family and neighbors. Refugees are already the most strictly vetted group of immigrants entering the U.S. and President Trump is threatening to turn them away at a time when there is the most need. That is not who we are – we will continue to stand up for our values and with all our residents.”

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In government, we have a lot of acronyms, but they are helpful because we use them to talk more efficiently about long-titled policies. Right up there with the longest acronyms is the new ROWORR, the Right-of-Way Opening and Restoration Rule. This new rule replaces the Pavement Opening and Restoration Rule (PORR) and applies to work that digs into public right-of-way property, which is more than just pavement.

Included in the ROWORR:

  • Changes to the final restoration timeframes
  • Clearer ADA guidance
  • Restoration requirements for Green Stormwater Infrastructure
  • Changes to pavement restoration requirements

SU - ROWORR workshop 1The ROWORR helps protect the city assets we all share. To help keep people moving, we’ve been holding workshops with contractors, utility organizations, construction firms, women and minority businesses, partner agencies, and others.

Questions that came up:

  • Do we have to replace the sidewalk on every frontage? Yes, if it’s within the curb radius; Within a 25’ radius on arterials, all curb ramps must be brought to code.
  • How long can a temporary patch remain? Five years, if it’s up to specifications
  • Do small patches trigger a panel replacement? If a necessary patch is within 5 feet of another one, the full panel must be replaced.
  • Is there a minimum cut to avoid panel replacement? No. However, if the cut is on a ‘failed’ street, the replacement can be done in asphalt.

If any of this sounds like it relates to work you do, email us to learn more. Or visit the new ROWORR web page for details.

Thanks for working together to keep Seattle vibrant!

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Fixing Access and Taking Names

In an emergency, first responders need to know exactly where they’re going to help. But if a street address is hard to find, that can affect response time. That’s why emergency responders like Seattle Fire, Seattle Police, and UW Police requested street name changes for nine locations in the city. At each location, response time was affected by an existing awkward street name or other address issue.

As a result, the City Council passed Ordinance 125106 to change the name of nine streets in Seattle in 2016, including:

  • Broad St between 9th Ave N and Westlake Ave N changed to Roy St
  • S Della St between 27th Ave S and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S changed to S Walden St
  • Cloverdale Place S between Rainier Ave S and Seward Ave S changed to S Cloverdale Place
  • NW 35th St between 1st Ave NW and NW Canal St changed to NW Canal St

All streets in Seattle are named by ordinance and must get Council approval to be changed.

Cloverdale Place S between Rainier Ave S and Seward Ave S became S Cloverdale Place.

The street name signs were updated in late October 2016. These changes meant improved access for 38 addresses, 27 which resulted in an actual address change. Affected residents received notice by mail.

The project was a combined research effort among SDOT, the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection (SDCI), and Seattle IT. The street and address data are used by every department in the City, including by emergency services, for navigation. When the data is inconsistent, incorrect, outdated, or conflicting, it is the City’s responsibility to update the street names by ordinance.

Please note that private map products are responsible for updating their own maps with current data. When in doubt, believe the name on the street name sign over the online map!

If you have questions about your address, please contact SDCI at 206-684-8850. For more about street name signs, go here.

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Green Streets

SDOT engineers, planners, and paving crews are responsible for the 4,000 miles of roadway and 2,000 miles of sidewalk that keep our city moving. But who maintains the countless plants that keep our city green?

That’s SDOT’s gardeners and irrigation specialists.

A crew member works on a green median to keep the City welcoming and green.

A crew member works on a green median to keep the City welcoming and green.

Our team of gardeners, irrigation specialists, certified horticulturalists and arborists help create a more pleasant, welcoming, and positive environment for everyone walking, biking, busing, or driving in our city.

The crew works on a planter box.

The crew works on a planter box.

Every crew member is licensed by the WA Department of Agriculture and trained on principles of integrated pest management to minimize our use of pesticides. Additionally, everyone is trained in flagging and traffic diversion, and some are certified traffic control supervisors.

Together, they help keep our shrubs, turf, ornamental grass, perennials, annuals, and other plants healthy, happy, and looking good with more than 150 different irrigation systems.

City gardeners are responsible for the city's plants and small trees.

City gardeners are responsible for the city’s plants and small trees.

With more than 120 acres of green spaces across over 200 locations, including new additions like Mercer Ave median in South Lake Union or the entrances to the future waterfront tunnel, our gardeners and irrigation specialists work hard to make sure we stay the Emerald City.

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SDOT’s 2016 Accomplishments

Meeting the challenges of a rapidly growing city while improving safety, delivering its core services, and providing more options for travelers, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) focused on advancing key initiatives in 2016. With funding from the nine-year Levy to Move Seattle, SDOT has worked diligently in 2016 to deliver on work across the city.


With Seattle’s Vision Zero safety campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030, the city successfully lowered speed limits on streets in the center city from 30 to 25 mph and on all residential streets from 25 to 20 mph.

As part of SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, we added 15 blocks of new sidewalks, implemented crossing improvements at 17 intersections and improved 16 walking and biking routes to school throughout the city. To provide safer and more comfortable routes for walking and bicycling, we added more than 11 miles of neighborhood greenways, which are designated routes on non-arterial, low traffic volume streets with added safety improvements.


In partnership with King County Metro, the City of Seattle funded the extension of the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union and the RapidRide D Line to Pioneer Square in 2016. The extension and splitting of the RapidRide C Line and D Line were designed to improve the reliability of the two lines, which carry more than 21,000 riders each weekday, while connecting riders to growing employment markets.


Examples of work funded by the Move Seattle Levy include more than 36 lane-miles of street paving, 120 curb ramps built, 770 crosswalks marked, 5,500 trees pruned and 560 lane-miles of arterial streets striped. Several neighborhoods across the city also benefitted from microsurfacing (36 lane-miles of streets), a preventative maintenance surface treatment that preserves roadways. Nearly 100 percent of pothole requests were filled within three business days.

Other accomplishments in 2016 include:

Bicycling facility improvements:

Traffic operations:

  • Retimed 260 traffic signals in the downtown core
  • Connected 9.5 miles of arterials to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology

Open space:

Construction management:

  • Hired 36 new inspectors in 2016, who are the eyes on the street for private and utility construction work, tasked with ensuring that mobility and right-of-way are maintained
  • Access Seattle Construction Coordination Program implemented Director’s Rule 10-2015 Pedestrian Mobility in and around Work Zones, which provides ongoing safety standards for pedestrians around construction zones in Seattle

Notable achievements:

  • Development in key freight policies: the Freight Master Plan, the South Lander Street Bridge Project and the Urban Freight Lab – a 3-year partnership with the University of Washington
  • A successful year for grants – grant awards totaled more than $184 million in 2016, more than double the previous high of $87 million in 2010

In 2017 SDOT will be looking ahead to: 

  • The replacement of the historic Yesler Bridge over 4th Ave
  • Extension of the 2-way protected bike lanes on 2nd Avenue
  • Pilot adaptive signal system in South Lake Union, more responsive to real-time traffic conditions, with the Mercer corridor being the first application of adaptive signal control in the city
  • The N 92nd Protected Bike Lane connecting the future light rail station at Northgate to North Seattle College and new elementary and middle schools opening Fall 2017 at the old Wilson-Pacific school site
  • The Interbay Trail Connections Project which redesigns 20th Ave W, Gilman Ave W, and W Emerson Pl to include protected bike lanes linking the Ship Canal Trail, Elliott Bay Trail and Ballard Locks
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Marching into the Weekend

Traveling in the city doesn’t always go as planned. Waking up late, losing the keys, or big events happening where you want to go can sometimes delay your plans. Let us help you travel a little easier by preparing you for upcoming road impacts and potential delays.

There are several events and marches planned for Friday and Saturday throughout Seattle with the possibility of a few unplanned events as well. As traffic conditions change, one of the best sources for information is our Twitter feed @Seattledot, run by the friendly operators in our Transportation Operations Center (TOC).IMG_0196

twitterfeedpicOur feed is updated with real-time incident information in Seattle that our operators gather from traffic detectors, cameras and information service providers. They use this information to manage traffic incidents and let you know what’s going on.

So, during big events, such as those planned for this weekend, our Twitter feed can provide information on closures, congestion and detours to help you navigate through the city. With over 140,000 followers, many updates are reported as they happen, making our twitter feed a trusted, shared resource for travelers.

There are many other SDOT resources to help you navigate the City during large events. We manage, through our Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), 200 traffic cameras, and over 100 major events or road closures every month! This allows the traveler’s information website to provide real-time traffic conditions and updates throughout the city and stay up-to-date on planned events and major incidents. You can even get bridge information by following our bridge twitter feed (@SDOTbridges). Our bridge feed has relevant bridge information including closures and delays. And don’t forget to check out our dynamic message signs (DMSs), which often display closures, detour routes, and delays.

However you decide to get the information you need, we hope you travel safely!

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HALA for Transit Improvements

As we begin the new year, we continue our efforts to make Seattle an affordable and vibrant city for all its residents, including conversations and adjustments to the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

On January 10, 2017, we attended a neighborhood HALA meeting at Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill. One hundred people came, and we were there to answer questions about city parking policies and the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Madison street BRT will provide enhanced public transportation between First Avenue downtown and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

We will continue to participate in citywide conversations around HALA and joining people in their communities for scheduled meetings to make giving feedback more accessible. We are using technology to gather input on HALA objectives, such as keeping our communities affordable and accessible.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

The Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to achieving this objective by improving safety for all travelers, maintaining our streets and bridges, and investment in reliable, affordable transit options for our growing City. The meetings serve as an opportunity to learn about resulting transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood while providing us with your knowledge of our city.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

The next meeting, on February 4, 2017, will provide another opportunity to learn more about HALA and transportation issues in southeast Seattle communities. We will be there to discuss a Parking Management Proposal for changes to parking in and around Columbia City.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle HALA page.

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Van Hailin’

Every year, thousands of Seattle commuters get to work using a van or carpool. Not driving single occupancy vehicles helps reduce congestion and carbon emissions – as well as being a convenient way to save on commuting costs.


But, the fee for a Vanpool parking permit hasn’t been updated in over 20 years, and has not kept up with rising costs for carpool parking or administering the program. To align these costs, and ensure the financial viability of the Vanpool program, the Seattle City Council approved a schedule for permit fee increases over the next three years.

So, is the price going up? Yes. Are Vanpool on-street parking permits still significantly cheaper than carpool or private parking? Absolutely!

Here’s the permit fee increase schedule for on-street Vanpool parking:


Location 2017 fee per month 2018 fee per month 2019 fee per month
Central Business District (CBD) $66.67 $133.33 $200
Non-CBD $33.33 $66.67 $100


We understand this represents a cost increase for Vanpool commuters, but it is important to note that Vanpool parking rates have not kept up as carpool and private parking fees increased significantly.

For a 5-person vanpool in the CBD, a rider’s parking cost in 2017 will increase from $0.33 per month to $13.33 per month. In 2019, each rider would pay $40 per month. In contrast, for a 2-person carpool in the CBD, each rider today pays $100 per month. And for a 5-person Vanpool parking off street in private lots or garages, which most do, fees are currently $300-$400 per month, or $60-80 per month per person.

It’s also important to note that 5 people is just the minimum required for a Vanpool. If you filled a Vanpool to capacity at 15 people, the permit fee per person would be just $4.44 in 2017, or $13.33 in 2019!

Of the over 800 Vanpools currently in use in Seattle, the vast majority park off-street in private lots or garages, and only about 70 park on-street and will be impacted by this fee increase.

We remain committed to Vanpooling, as well as other forms of shared transportation and transit. As our city grows, it’s increasingly important alternative forms of commuting are easy and attractive. To join a Vanpool, or start your own, check out the King County Metro page.

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