Archive for 'Transit'
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).
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
What we do with our cities determines the quality of life for hundreds of years for thousands of people. Access to green areas, a waterfront, to sports and music facilities, being able to get to work on time without breaking your budget, make for a better life. Seattle does a good job at many of these things but listening to Gil Peñalosa a few weeks ago, we realize how much potential we have as a city to be even better
Gil was Bogota’s Paks Commisioner and is now the director of 8-80 cities. Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for ALL people. Gil advises decision makers and community leaders on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of social, economic, or ethnic background. His focus is the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility.
The Peñalosas often involve children in transportation planning using games and other fun activities with spectacular results. We love the idea so here is a resource for teachers and educators for grades 8 -12 from the Henry Ford Foundation. The Digi Kit includes a Teacher Guide and a Unit Plan and access to the Henry Ford Foundation historical archives. Many of the lessons include the use of digitized artifacts from the collections of The Henry Ford, which can be accessed through the hyperlinks in the Unit Plan or at their website, TheHenryFord.org/education. Teachers can incorporate the whole unit into their class schedules or use the lessons or activities most relevant to their need.
Have fun and share the guide with the teachers and educators in your life.
Work occurring along Alaskan Way between Pike and Madison: Many waterfront attractions remain open and accessible
Marking the beginning of its second season of construction, the Elliott Bay Seawall Project resumed work along the central waterfront today. Scheduled during the tourism off-season to help waterfront businesses, the work is now underway between Pike and Madison streets is scheduled to be complete by June 30, 2015. Construction will continue in the work zone south of Yesler Way.
Throughout construction, many of the waterfront’s favorite attractions will remain open and accessible, including the Great Wheel and many Pier 57 businesses, the Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises and businesses along the east side of Alaskan Way. Access to Waterfront Park and Pier 57 will be maintained at the north end, near the Seattle Aquarium. Some retail businesses at Piers 54, 55 and 56 will temporarily close in order for seawall construction to progress efficiently.
As season two of construction begins, waterfront visitors can expect:
- Street parking along the west side of the Alaskan Way Viaduct has been removed to make room for the construction work zone. Visit downtownseattleparking.com for more information about parking availability and rates.
- North/south vehicular traffic will continue along Alaskan Way, under the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
- Ferry terminal access on Alaskan Way has shifted one block south, from Spring Street to just south of Madison Street.
- The multi-use path on either side of the viaduct will remain open for pedestrians and bicyclists, although short-term closures of the path on the west side of the viaduct are expected during the first month of construction.
For more information about seawall construction, visit the Seawall Project website. If you have questions, email the Seawall Project (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the 24-hour hotline (206.618.8584).
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.
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 email@example.com or (206) 733-9865.
If you have visited Capitol Hill or the International District lately, you have likely seen the finished construction work for the new First Hill Streetcar line. New track, electrical lines, traffic signals and sidewalk abound thanks to the project. But one critical component is missing: the streetcar manufacturer is behind schedule in delivering the line’s streetcars.
When the First Hill Streetcar Line is operational, a fleet of six streetcars will support the line, with three to five streetcars in operation during the service day. The streetcars are being supplied by Inekon, the Czech company that built the streetcars that have operated on Seattle’s South Lake Union Line since 2007.
Three of the cars are being assembled in the Czech Republic and three are being assembled by a local labor force at Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar Operations and Maintenance Facility. However, delivery of the vehicles is behind schedule. Several vehicles are now nearing completion, with initial deliveries expected in December and the entire fleet expected to be ready for operation in early 2015.
The schedule for streetcar delivery and service will continue to have some uncertainty until mid-November when more is known about testing results, supply chain issues and the pace of local production. The streetcar vehicles are comprised of components from numerous suppliers to the global transit vehicle market and demand for streetcar parts has been exceptionally strong. As of September 2014, the brake system supplier has delivered the brakes for two of the streetcars and this supply chain issue could affect the overall schedule.
The First Hill Streetcar Line, a new urban mobility option funded through Sound Transit’s “ST2” mass transit expansion plan, will support economic growth and strengthen connections among the places where people live, work and socialize. It will be an important link in the regional transit system, and will connect the diverse and vibrant residential neighborhoods and business districts of Capitol Hill, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Central Area, Chinatown ID and Pioneer Square. Service will operate 5 AM to 1 AM Monday through Saturday. On Sundays and holidays, service will operate 10 AM to 8 PM.
North Seattle still has a number of streets that lack sidewalks. A subject of frustration for many who live in these neighborhoods, there are even some arterials that don’t have sidewalks yet. Greenwood Avenue, a little north of its business district, is such a place where bus riders, kids going to and from school, and neighborhood residents walking to do their grocery shopping a few blocks away don’t have a sidewalk.
SDOT plans to tackle a substantial piece of the problem next year when it constructs sidewalks along the east side of Greenwood Avenue North between NE 92nd and NE 105th streets. (The west side of the street has some sidewalk gaps, but not as many as on the east side. It is hoped that sufficient funding can be secured to include the construction of these west side missing sidewalk segments, but as of this writing, the funding has not been identified.)
Specifically, the project will install a six foot wide concrete sidewalk with curb and gutter, a five foot wide planting strip, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) mandated curb ramps at intersections, and minor drainage, grading, and paving improvements to provide a continuous sidewalk along the east side of Greenwood Avenue.
While the project will make for a safer and more aesthetically appealing streetscape, it will create parking challenges for some businesses and apartment buildings. Because of this, SDOT is working closely with individual property owners to address their access and parking needs to the greatest extent possible.
As the project name itself suggests, the project also includes significant transit improvements, specifically the construction of two new in-lane bus islands (at N 92nd and N 97th streets), along with the closure of some stops and the relocation of others to provide more appropriate spacing between them. The in-lane bus islands, similar to those on Dexter Avenue North, permit buses to load and unload while still in the travel lane, improving their speed and reliability.
The existing bike lanes on both sides of Greenwood will remain, with the bus islands routing bicyclists between the bus stop and sidewalk, substantially reducing conflicts between buses and bikes.
The $2.5 million project, primarily financed through the voter-approved Bridging the Gap measure and the Neighborhood Street Fund, is expected to begin construction in early 2015 and take about six months to complete (up to ten months if the project eventually includes sidewalks on the west side of Greenwood).
The South Park Bridge was opened on June 30th, 4 years after the closure of the old bridge. This King County project has restored South Park’s connection to their neighbors in Georgetown, Sodo and the rest of the City. South Park now has the coolest bridge around.
SDOT has recently made several transit service improvements along Denny Way, at the intersections of First Avenue and Denny and First Avenue and Broad Street. These changes have improved transit’s speed and reliability, but we are not done yet. We’re planning more through these busy intersections:
- New signal operations at northbound First Avenue and Denny Way New traffic signal hardware and a longer bus-only signal phase will allow more buses, including local service to Magnolia and express service to Ballard and northwest Seattle, to turn left from the existing bus-only curb lane. Drivers travelling north on First Avenue should expect to see buses cross in front of existing travel lanes as they turn from First Avenue to Denny, and a longer green light for these buses and other buses proceeding north across Denny to First Avenue North.
- Move the Denny Way bus stop To accommodate existing westbound bus traffic and make sure buses don’t block the intersection, we’ll move the bus stop on westbound Denny Way (west of First Ave North) 150 feet down the block, next to Queen Anne Avenue North. Metro will install a new shelter with lighting. The new location will accommodate two to three buses, instead of the current one to two buses, on routes serving Lower Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, and South Lake Union.
- Revised Parking Restriction for Transit Speed and Reliability on First Avenue. Existing parking restrictions on First Avenue between Denny Way and Broad Street will expand to provide a bus-only lane for longer periods of the day and match other bus lane operations in the city. Currently, parking is not allowed from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In addition, parking will not be allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. so buses can more reliably serve passengers travelling to Lower Queen Anne, Interbay, Magnolia, and Ballard.
- Benefits Combined, the transit improvements coming to First and Denny will provide quicker and more consistent bus travel in both the morning and afternoon rush hour. These changes will get buses through this chokepoint quickly and get riders to their destinations.
- Improvements to the Denny Way bus stop will benefit about 150 passengers per day.
- The new signal phase at 1st and Denny will help nearly 100 daily bus trips headed for Magnolia and Ballard get through this intersection quicker.
- The expanded hours of the bus-only lane will allow over 50 bus trips free-flow travel on First Avenue during these additional times.
Routes benefitting from these changes include: Rapid Ride D Line, 1, 2, 13, 15X, 17X, 18X, 24 and 33.
Cost and Schedule All improvements will be complete by fall 2014.
We’re looking for public input on this project during the month of September, if you have questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 684-4209.
Please join us at an open house next week to learn more about the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway most promising routes for Phases 2 and 3 (the south and north ends of the greenway, respectively) and share your input. We will review the evaluation criteria of previously studied routes, the most promising route from Rainier Avenue S. to E. Roanoke Street, and some of the design elements that may be applied.
This greenway is being developed in close coordination with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project and will provide a bicycle and pedestrian facility off of 23rd Avenue. The modified 23rd Avenue is being designed to improve mobility through the corridor, but it will not include a protected bike lane. People on foot and riding bikes may prefer a calmer route. For those reasons, and to help achieve Seattle’s goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, SDOT is installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway near this busy arterial.
Neighborhood greenways are safer, calm residential streets that provide a more comfortable environment for people to walk, run and bike. Starting with a good foundation (a street with already low car volumes and speeds), small improvements are made that add up to a big difference. Improvements can include adding speed humps, signage, and pavement markings, reducing the speed limit, and making crossings easier by adding curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, medians, or traffic signals at busy intersections.
The project is separated into three phases.
- Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)
- Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)
- Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)
We are completing final design for Phase 1 now and anticipate that its construction will begin this fall. Phases 2 and 3 will begin design this fall and we anticipate construction will begin in summer 2015.
Open House Details
You may have heard that SR 99 will be closed for four straight days by the state starting Friday night, August 22. It’s the longest full closure of SR 99 in Seattle since crews demolished the southern mile of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2011. While this is probably not welcome news for travelers, it is a sign of progress at the tunnel’s north portal.
The 2011 demolition of the southern portion of the viaduct cleared the way for construction of the tunnel launch pit and the commencement of tunneling. During this month’s closure crews will demolish the SR 99 bridge above Broad Street, which will clear the way for continued construction of ramp and roadway connections at the tunnel’s north portal.
The shape of those connections is a little hard to imagine now, but this visualization from the Washington State Department of Transportation helps show how all the pieces of the portal will function. As you can see, the city’s two-way Mercer Street is a key component to making this portal function. You might be surprised to learn that a big piece of the north portal, the tunnel entrance, is mostly complete. In the next year you’ll start to see the outlines of the lanes and ramps that connect to the tunnel entrance. Since much of this change can’t be seen on the ground, the construction camera views on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program website are the best way to keep track of progress toward the future north portal of the SR 99 tunnel.