Mercer Corridor Project – Maintaining Safety through the Corridor

Travelers who use the Mercer Corridor have much to look forward to as construction is expected to wrap-up later this year. As pavement is poured, lanes are added, sidewalks poured, bike lanes completed and signal timing adjusted, SDOT will maintain its commitment to safety to all those who work, live and travel in the corridor. Though traffic capacity is limited, the project opened two new westbound lanes between Ninth Ave N and Queen Anne Ave N last summer. This provides a much improved, direct route from I-5 to Seattle Center, Uptown and Queen Anne, and it also eliminates some of the challenges between turning vehicles and pedestrians.

Bicycle and Pedestrian route

Bicycle and Pedestrian route

Work in the past six months has focused on Mercer between Fifth Ave N and Ninth Ave N, and south along Fifth Ave N. Installation of new signals, sidewalks, and accessible ramps has required that traffic lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks be closed to protect pedestrians and others from construction activities. Pedestrians have had to cross the street at signalized intersections and sometimes travel two or three blocks out of their way to avoid the construction zones. This is inconvenient, but necessary to maintain safe, accessible connections during construction. Pedestrian maps highlighting closures and detour routes are posted on our project website as well as on sidewalks in the project area. Here’s a link:

Mercer St Pedestrian Detour map

Mercer St Pedestrian Detour map

As work progresses, more corners and crosswalks are opening up with improved ramps and sidewalks. All new sidewalks and curbs are constructed to meet the current Americans with Disabilities Act standards for mobility providing safe travels for all users in the corridor.

Work will continue near the intersection of Dexter Ave N and Mercer St where temporary configurations have been in place on both streets since July of last year. Temporary roadways were constructed so that crews could safely work on major utility relocations on both Mercer St and Dexter Ave N. Both roadways and corresponding curvatures drivers experience will be removed this year, starting with Mercer St the weekend of February 7.

Removing the bridge over Broad St at the intersection of Mercer St and Dexter Ave N

Removing the bridge over Broad St at the intersection of Mercer St and Dexter Ave N

During this weekend closure, crews will also stripe the eastbound lanes with their final markings. Pedestrians will also experience a noticeable change in their routing as the temporary roadways are removed. Following the February 7 weekend closure, pedestrians will be moved from the south side of Mercer St to new sidewalks on the north side of Mercer St between 5th Ave N and Dexter Ave N. The new separated bicycle path will be in place adjacent to the sidewalk, but crews will wait for drier weather to add channelization markings on the bike path.

Do You take Transit on Madison Street? Your input is greatly appreciated.

Do you take Transit on Madison Street? SDOT has a new online survey and is seeking input for the Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Study.

The Study is developing a concept design for BRT from Colman Dock to Martin Luther King Jr. Way and will examine two alternatives to evaluate travel-time savings, traffic impacts, ridership projections, and parking impacts in the coming months.


Route 12 Bus on Madison Street

The 2.1-mile corridor runs from Colman Dock east to 23rd Avenue and will improve access to ferries, Third Avenue transit, First Hill medical facilities and housing, Seattle University, the Central district, Link Light Rail, and the First Hill Streetcar.

Madison Street Cooridor Map

Madison Street Cooridor Map

SDOT is seeking input on key elements before this analysis begins, including transit connections, routing options, station locations, and an alternate bike facility.  After the analysis is complete, SDOT will launch a round of outreach to share the results and discuss community preferences about the design options. The last question of the survey is a map exercise; don’t forget to share your map. #MadisonBRT

The survey ends February 5th.  You can request paper copies of the survey directly from SDOT, by emailing or contacting Sara Walton at 206-386-4645.

For more information on the Madison BRT study, visit the project website.

Battery Drive System Impresses in First Tests of New Streetcars

The first performance tests of the new streetcars on order for the First Hill Streetcar line were completed in December. In addition to testing acceleration and braking, the performance tests featured off-wire operation powered by a rechargeable battery system, known as the On-Board Energy Storage System (OESS). When operating on the First Hill Streetcar line, the streetcars will be powered by the OESS on each inbound trip from Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square (2.5 miles). The batteries will be recharging whenever the streetcar is braking, and will also recharge on the outbound trip from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, while being powered from the overhead wires (known as the Overhead Contact System, or OCS).

Czech Streetcar Test

Street Car Battery drive testing in Czech Republic.

Street Car Map

Initial tests were performed on a test track at the factory where the first streetcar was completed in the Czech city of Ostrava. The streetcar operated off-wire for 3 miles, using 25% of the battery capacity of the OESS. Subsequent tests were performed on the Ostrava streetcar system. This allowed for uphill and downhill operation and simulation of traffic conditions that may be encountered in Seattle. During this testing, the streetcar operated on battery drive for distances as great as four miles and durations as long as 37 minutes. The testing also demonstrated that batteries recharge rapidly from regenerative braking and during operation on the OCS.

The test results indicate that the OESS will be more than adequate for the requirements of the First Hill line, and can also be used for significant segments of the planned Center City Connector streetcar extension.

Streetcar Battery drive testing in Czech Republic.

Streetcar Battery drive testing in Czech Republic.

The OESS was developed for the First Hill Streetcar to reduce overhead wire conflicts with the Metro trolley bus system. Several other cities plan to use battery drive to avoid overhead conflicts (such as bridge overpasses), save energy costs, or limit the visual impact of overhead contact systems. A similar system has been in use in Nice, France since 2007.

For more information, please follw link:

Seattle Streetcar March 2015 Fare Changes

In March 2015, Seattle Streetcar plans to change fares for consistency with Link light rail service fares. StreetCar PixThis will make the experience more consistent across transit services. This change will occur in coordination with Sound Transit and King County Metro fare changes planned for March 2015. It will align streetcar fares with new Link base fares planned for March 2015, offer the new Low Income Adult fare to Seattle Streetcar customers, and offer a more robust day pass option. Public comments on the proposed fare changes can be submitted through February 9th and will be considered before implementation. Fill out the Online Comment Form! 

This table summarizes the proposed Seattle Streetcar fares planned to go into effect in March 2015:

  Current Fares Proposed Fares3
Adult $2.50 $2.25
Youth $1.25 (6-17 years old) $1.50 (6-18 years old)
Senior(65+)/Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP)1 $0.75 $1.00
Low Income Adult2 Not available $1.50
Children 5 and under Free Free
Day Pass $5.00(bulk sales only) Adult: $4.50Youth: $3.00Senior/RRFP: $2.00


1 Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP), available to qualifying persons with disabilities or seniors.

2 Available to qualifying adult riders with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. To qualify, a household of four would have an annual household income at or below $47,700.

3 Day passes and single ride paper tickets will only be valid on Seattle Streetcar, transfers only possible with an ORCA card. The new day pass options will not be available until new ticket vending machines, scheduled for phased installation in Spring 2015, are in operation.


Learn more and comment:

Comments due by February 9, 2015




Attend: Public meeting on February 2, 2015

5 – 7 PM, presentation at 6 PM

Seattle City Hall, Room L280

600 Fourth Ave

Seattle WA 98104


Mail:      Seattle Department of Transportation

Attn Ayelet Ezran

PO Box 34996

Seattle, WA 98124-4996


To request interpretation or accommodations, please contact Ayelet Ezran (206-733-9032 or at least five business days before the meeting.

Bicycle Safety and Transit Improvements along Roosevelt Way NE

SDOT is repaving Roosevelt Way NE between Fuhrman Ave NE and NE 65th Street and adding safety improvements this fall 2015 to spring 2016. Along with meeting Seattle’s basic maintenance needs, we are adding a one-way Protected Bike Lane (PBL) on the west side of Roosevelt Way NE, transit reliability improvements and pedestrian improvements.

Project Map

Roosevelt Overview Map

Roosevelt Overview Map

Last fall we mailed project fliers, letters and held an open house to talk about the paving project. At that time we were only planning on installing the PBL from the University Bridge to NE 45th Street. At the open house, we shared that there were a few project components we hoped to add should funding become available. These included in-lane transit stops for better bus reliability and sidewalk repairs for easier pedestrian movement.

Since the open house, some funding for these improvements has been identified. This triggered another evaluation of how the project will best meet our Complete Streets Ordinance and transportation modal plan recommendations. Shifting the transit stops in-lane provided us with an opportunity to add the PBL recommended in the Bicycle Master Plan. There have been nine collisions involving bikes between NE 45th and NE 65th streets from October 2010 to October 2014, so the PBL would be a safety improvement and create better connections to Seattle’s citywide bike network and multimodal system. We can leverage the Roosevelt Way NE Paving Project to make bicycling safer and more comfortable along the corridor.  And we can do it in a way that minimizes construction disruptions and helps meet our goal of providing people with more travel options.





What is the goal of adding a PBL?

Safety for all travelers

  • People biking – separate bicyclists from travel lanes and parking maneuvers
  • People walking – separate bicycles from pedestrians
  • People driving – provide predictability within the street


What are the benefits of adding a PBL and transit islands?

  • Improve safety, as people are no longer riding bikes in the “door zone” or being blocked by buses
  • Improve transit reliability by adding in-lane bus stops (transit islands)
  • Create more space for people waiting for the bus by adding transit islands
  • Add connections to a citywide bicycle network and multimodal system at:
    • NE 47th Street, which connects to the University Neighborhood Greenway on 12th Avenue NE
    • Ravenna Boulevard where SDOT is upgrading the buffered bike lane to a PBL this year
    • NE 65th Street, where the new Link Light Rail Station is under construction



The two existing general purpose lanes will remain and we’ll continue to prioritize bus service. However, on-street parking and loading zones would be removed on the west side of the street. We know that businesses and residents can come to rely on public parking and do not take this lightly. Parking utilization data collection is currently underway.

Existing Cross Section

Existing Cross Section

We also work with the public to understand their access needs and determine how we can continue to meet those needs with the addition of the new facility. Three drop-in sessions at various times are being held the week of January 19. We’re also conducting door to door outreach and meeting with individual businesses and neighborhood groups.

Proposed Cross Section

Proposed Cross Section

We’d like to invite you to attend one of three drop-in sessions to meet with project staff, ask questions and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 20|2 – 3:30 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

Wednesday, January 21|8 – 9:30 AM: Wayward Coffeehouse, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE

Thursday, January 22 | 5:30 – 7 PM: University Heights, 5031 University Way NE

You can find a comprehensive Questions and Answers document at: For more information about the Roosevelt Way NE Paving Project visit

SDOT’s Transportation Options program Keeps You Moving

SDOT’s Transportation Options program provides a variety of services to help residents, employers, building managers, and developers access tools and resources for getting around Seattle. Our programs include:

  • The Way to Go Program provides resources and information to residents and visitors on Seattle’s transportation options.
  • The NavSeattle Program is for residential building managers and developers. The program connects Seattle’s growing multifamily residential sector to resources for promoting a building’s transportation amenities.
  • The Commute Trip Reduction Program (CTR) supoorts employers in promoting transportation options to reduce congestion and air pollution.
  • The Transportation Management Program (TMP) assists owners and managers of large buildings in developing and evaluating building-wide transportation programs.












SDOT is here to help you get around Seattle:

Metro Transit – King County’s Transit Agency

Sound Transit – Connecting King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

Community Transit – Snohomish County’s Transit Agency

Pierce Transit – Pierce County’s Transit Agency

Seattle Interactive Bicycle Map

Traveler’s Information Map

City of Seattle Traffic Cameras

CityTrip – Helping you navigate the byways, highways and waterways in Seattle

Seattle has a lot of options to get around – walking, biking, transit, driving and car and ridesharing. Check out some of the tools available and find out how to get where you’re going! For easy transit, walking, bicycling, and driving directions visit Google Maps.

Find out before you go; This map shows up-to-date traffic information:

3 C’s Help Mercer traffic flow and construction impacts diminish

As 2014 draws to a close, construction in Seattle presses on with some help from the three C’s: Coordination, Communication, and Collaboration. It’s been another boom year, following the 2013 surge—a bounce back from the recession.

With the 2013 construction surge came the new Access Seattle Initiative to keep businesses thriving, travelers moving, and construction coordinated during peak building periods. Part of that plan is the Construction Hub Coordination Program, targeting areas of concentrated construction (hubs) to holistically assess impacts of all public and private projects. More hubs are expected in 2015.



Looking east at westbound Mercer traffic, including soutbound left turns onto 5th Ave. N

What’s made the difference since the Construction Hub Program’s inception is good communication and collaboration. A great example of that is the recent Mercer Corridor coordination effort.


As Mercer Corridor construction takes the two-way concept all the way from I-5 to 5th Ave. N (completion anticipated mid-2015) travelers continue dealing with regular traffic alterations. This fall the South Lake Union Community Council (SLUCC) gave a list of concerns to the construction hub team, including congestion along Mercer.


“It’s the Community Council’s role to listen to community members regarding what they’re seeing and looking to improve; then to work in partnership with city departments to bring those concerns and visions together,” said SLUCC President Mike McQuaid. “To no surprise, one thing we consistently heard about is Mercer traffic back-ups.”



Crews adjusting Mercer/5th Ave. N signal to prepare for final intersection configuration: a 3rd eastbound lane and 2 separate westbound left-turn lanes

McQuaid worked with the construction hub team to underscore community priorities and follow up on progress. SDOT acted quickly, McQuaid commented, to address the issues raised. Options to comprehensively improve Mercer traffic flow were assessed and added to signal adjustment plans already in the works. The following changes were made:

  •  5th Ave. N and Mercer St. signal reconfigured to run East-West Mercer traffic concurrently, improving efficiency and reducing delays compared to the previous split-phase operation (this was done in concert with the Mercer Project’s opening of a third eastbound lane November 16, 2014)
  • Queen Anne Ave. N and Roy St. signal phasing modified, resolving a problem with vehicle blockage of the Queen Anne Ave. N crosswalk
  • Fairview Ave. N and Mercer St. southbound left turn time extended
  • Lower Queen Anne area Rapid Ride “D” Line transit given signal priority
  • Seattle Center special event signal timing plan implemented to coincide with large events (with positive reception from the Seattle Center event timing signal change, SDOT is also planning to implement a large event signal timing plan near McCaw Hall)


As the Construction Hub Coordination Program strives to limit construction impacts, Access Seattle is always looking at ways to keep a growing Seattle mobile and thriving. By no coincidence, community organizations do the same.


During SLU traffic discussions with SDOT this summer, the Queen Anne Community Council, South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce and the South Lake Union Community Council asked about better technology for traffic flow along Mercer. SDOT had plans for something called adaptive signal controllers (ASC), dynamic signals that automatically adjust in real-time based on current traffic conditions. Seattle is a national leader in adopting this state-of-the art technology to move cars, busses, bikes and pedestrians efficiently. However, there was only enough funding to install base technology that could later receive ASC.


The neighborhood and business organizations then talked with Seattle City Council and Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen about funding Mercer adaptive signal controllers. SDOT joined, highlighting that the supportive infrastructure was already in place so funding to complete phase one/Mercer Corridor (shown by red dots in map below) would be about $1 million. With SDOT/community collaboration supporting the need, City Council said yes to bridging the funding gap to make ASC implementation a reality.

Traffic Responsive

“In my opinion this is how it should work,” said McQuaid. “Community councils serve a very important role helping our city function and move forward. We help leaders in city departments by sharing neighborhood interests so they can in turn help the community. The Mercer signal effort is an example of that work done in the right way.”


The adaptive signal controllers will be installed starting in 2015 and will get finalized in 2016 . They’re expected to make a significant improvement moving traffic through the Mercer Corridor, in and out of South Lake Union and the downtown core.


So the final story is the three Cs of Coordination, Communication and Collaboration bringing solutions to communities. That’s a story Access Seattle and the Construction Hub Coordination Program want to tell over and over again…for every Seattle community in need.


Covering the entire city is the Construction Hub team of five in-office project coordinators/analysts and two on-site coordinators (one more added in 2015 with budget approval) all with SDOT, and a business liaison with the Office of Economic Development. The small but nimble group is dedicated, already making strides in Capitol Hill, West Seattle and South Lake Union. If you have questions about construction in your neighborhood, contact the Construction Hub Coordination Program team at

More Dynamic Message Signs coming to Seattle to keep Motorists informed

SDOT, like other transportation agencies throughout the nation, is using technological advances to better inform motorists of road conditions, giving drivers information they can use to consider the best route to reach their destination, or just how long it may take to get there.

Dynamic Message Signs, are large overhead message boards that inform motorists of traffic problems ahead. These signs can also recommend alternative routes, limit travel speed, warn of duration and location of problems, or simply provide alerts or warnings. Strategically located traffic cameras throughout the city are monitored in SDOT’s Traffic Management Center, and inform staff of conditions and issues that warrant a sign message.

DMS at Terry Avenue and Mercer Street

DMS at Terry Avenue and Mercer Street

While dynamic message signs are probably more commonly visible to motorists on I-5, SDOT has two dozen already constructed at key locations throughout Seattle and will soon be adding another seven. Needing to be big to be visible to passing motorists, the new signs will be approximately 17 feet wide, seven feet tall, and placed about 19 feet above the roadway.

The seven signs are slated for construction in the summer of 2015. Each location will take about a month to complete, although construction is likely to occur in spurts as different crews complete different aspects of installation. The seven locations for the next grouping of these dynamic message signs are at:
Above the northbound travel lanes of First Avenue S, just north of Royal Brougham Way (the street that runs east/west near Safeco and Century Link Fields)

  • Above the northbound travel lanes of First Avenue S, just north of Royal Brougham Way (the street that runs east/west near Safeco and Century Link fields).
  • Above the northbound travel lanes of Fourth Avenue S, south of Seattle Boulevard S, where I-90 touches down on Fourth Avenue S, also close to the stadiums.
  • Above the southbound travel lanes of Elliott Avenue W at W Harrison Street, the intersection that has long been the home of the Shanty Café.
  • Above the southbound travel lanes of Elliott Avenue W, just south of W Prospect Street, the street with the Amgen – Helix Campus pedestrian overpass.
  • On southbound Fifth Avenue, a little south of Lenora Street, anchored on the east side of the street, about a block and a half north of the Westin Hotel.
  • Above the northbound lanes of Rainier Avenue S at S College Street just south of the intersection of Rainier Avenue S and 23rd Avenue S.
  • Above the northbound travel lanes of 24th Avenue E at E Lee Street, a block south of E Galer Street, which has a traffic light.


The dynamic message signs and traffic cameras are key components of what is commonly known as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). To find out more about how SDOT is taking advantage of the Next Generation ITS, visit our webpage located at

Completing Connections – New and improved SR 520 West Approach North Bridge Project Update

The new and improved SR 520 is coming to Seattle, with work continuing to the complete the anticipated connection.  WSDOT is building the West Approach Bridge North Project (WABN) that will be nearly as long as the new floating bridge itself. The Project addresses the vulnerability of the existing west approach bridge’s hollow columns which could fail during a significant earthquake. The  new West Approach North Bridge will be a seismically sound structure, built to modern earthquake standards.

The new, 1.2-mile-long replacement will carry three westbound lanes of traffic (including a new HOV lane) from the new floating bridge to Seattle’s Montlake Boulevard interchange. The new bridge section is expected to open to drivers in 2017, about a year after the new floating bridge is completed. The new bridge section will  have a 14-foot wide cross-lake path for pedestrians and bicyclists that will stretch from the Eastside to Montlake.

SR  520 Blog Pix 12-10-14

WABN will have wider, safer lanes, and shoulders that allow vehicles to pull off the road in the case of a breakdown.

SR 520 Blog Pix2 12-10-14

WABN will complete the bicycle/pedestrian connection across Lake Washington with a new, 14-foot-wide regional shared-use path.

SR 520 Blog Pix3 12-10-14

WABN will extend transit/HOV lanes from the Eastside across Lake Washington to Montlake.

SR 520 Blog Pix 4 12-10-14

WABN’s new shared-use path will include “belvederes,” or viewpoints, for resting and enjoying the views.


2014 Sidewalk Construction complete courtesy of Bridging the Gap!

How many miles of sidewalk can be found in the City of Seattle? More than 2,200 miles! That’s a lot of sidewalk; however, we have a ways to go before the network is complete. Sidewalks play an important role in our communities, they connect us and provide safe alternatives to get from home to work or school or play. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation initiative, passed by Seattle voters in 2006. Since 2007, more than 100 blocks of new sidewalk have been constructed across the city and in 2014 seven blocks have been constructed making the 9-year goal of 117 now within reach.


A key part of BTG has been the development of a Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP). The PMP is a long-term action plan to that establishes the policies, programs, design criteria and projects that will further enhance pedestrian safety and access in all of Seattle’s neighborhoods.  The plan serves as a guide for SDOT as decisions are made regarding new sidewalk construction.


Sandpoint Way NE

Sandpoint Way NE

Completed 2014 BTG sidewalk projects:

  • N 115th Street between Stone Avenue N and Meridian Avenue N
  • N 105th Street between Wallingford Avenue N and Meridian Avenue N
  • N 125th Street between Aurora Avenue N and Stone Avenue N
  • N 143rd Street between Linden Avenue N and Aurora Avenue N
  • Beacon Avenue S between S Holgate Bridge and 11th Avenue S

New sidewalks provide the key connection within and between our neighborhoods. They make it easier to get to school, to work and to use transit. For more information on the completed 2014 projects please visit SDOT’s Sidewalk Development Program webpage. The list of projects for 2015 will be posted soon, so remember to check back!


For information on BTG and the other projects funded please visit their webpage.