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 Stree

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 South, 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 South, south of Seattle Boulevard South, where I-90 touches down on Fourth (also close to the stadiums)
  • Above the southbound travel lanes of Elliott Avenue West at Harrison Street (the intersection that has long been home to the Shanty Café)
  • Above the southbound travel lanes of Elliott Avenue West just south of West Prospect Street (the street with the Amgen-Helix Campus pedestrian overpass)
  • Above the southbound travel lanes of Fifth Avenue a little north of Lenora (about a block north of the Westin Hotel)
  • Above the northbound travel lanes of Rainier Avenue South at South College Street (just south of where Rainier intersects with 23rd Avenue South)
  • Above the northbound travel lanes of 24th Avenue East at East Lee Street a block south of East Galer Street, which has a traffic signal


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:


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.

The Hill is Hoppin’ even if the Cranes are Diggin’!

One thing that’s clear on Capitol Hill is that it’s sometimes not clear due to construction. There’s a lot of construction. Though projects are finishing and leaving shiny new developments in their wake (as shown in green on the map below), completion can’t come soon enough when you’re surrounded.



As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, Capitol Hill businesses are open! Development in the area bounded by 10th Avenue, E Pike Street, 11th Avenue and E Union Street is pretty concentrated so keep your eyes open as you travel to Wild Rose, Cupcake Royale or Café’ Pettirosso. They’re keeping their eyes out for you, creating events to make your arrival well worth it…


One example is next Monday’s Public Market at Café Pettirosso, with the Holiday-core quintet Dancer & Prancer. The pop-up market will feature local crafts, artists and vintage curators to meet your shopping needs while the back-drop of cheery holiday music makes the particularly palatable Pettirosso flavors all the more pleasing…


The Wild Rose Tavern is also looking out for you this New Year’s Eve. Not letting construction get the corner on the street-closing market, the Wild Rose is closing E Pike Street between 10th and 11th avenues from 7AM December 31st until 5AM January 1, New Year’s Day. For its 30th Anniversary the Tavern is hosting a party in the street–complete with tents, outdoor bar, stage and sound system. As you make your plans to attend, remember that 11th Avenue near that segment will not be available for use. WildRoseParty


So, remember to visit Capitol Hill early and often, or late and often—just often. The hill is hoppin’ even if the cranes are diggin’. Speaking of which, the next big project in the area, at 1427 11th Avenue East, is scheduled to start December 17, 2014. The Access Seattle Construction Hub team is on it…and we’ll keep you posted as we coordinate!


P.S. It’s not like we have a Pet Project or anything, but there is a Yappy Hour we’d like to mention. No, that’s not a typo. The Feed Bag, at 518 East Pike Street, says “Feliz Navi-Dog” December 18 with nummies for Fido and human alike. So grab a leash and head on over next Thursday!

Paulo Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT as the new Transit division director

Mayor Ed Murray, along with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly, announced the appointment of Paulo Nunes-Ueno as the new SDOT Transit division director. Joining the department’s executive team, Nunes-Ueno will lead a newly created SDOT division focused on addressing the city’s and region’s current and future transit needs.


It’s critically important that we deliver expanded transit services efficiently and cost-effectively after Seattle voters said yes to Proposition 1,” said Mayor Murray. “We’re stepping up to work with Metro to identify the routes and increased service that will roll out this summer. The new Transit Division will help ensure that we get the most from our investment.”


In this new position, Nunes-Ueno will lead a team of transportation professionals focused on delivering safe, efficient and cost-effective transit solutions for Seattle. This division will be responsible for four main areas: transit policy, planning and procurement; transit design and construction oversight; transit operations and interagency coordination; and mobility options and parking programs that support transit. Nunes-Ueno will also provide subject matter expertise to SDOT leadership, the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and other City departments.


“Making transit better helps everyone who lives in, works in or visits Seattle,” said SDOT Director Kubly. “With the creation of a new Transit division and the hiring of Paulo Nunes-Ueno, we will have the right team in place to guide our short- and long-term transit efforts. He is a strong hire due to his success at Children’s Hospital, where his transit and commute trip reduction work resulted in sixty percent of employees walking, biking or taking transit.”


Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT after having served as the director of Transportation and Sustainability for Seattle Children’s Hospital, and manager of King County Metro’s Commute Trip Reduction Services Project/Program. He will start at the City on December 17.

Winter Weather Brochures Available Now

SDOT’s annual winter weather brochure is available now and has a large map of Seattle’s snow and ice routes, lists important telephone numbers and websites to use during winter storms, and offers preparedness tips.

We work closely with King County Metro Transit, the Seattle School District, local universities, and hospitals, to ensure our snow-fighting work maintains mobility for people and goods, and access to the region.

Winter Weather 2014 MapThe snow route map shows where we will focus our snow-fighting efforts. Those streets will be treated with de-icer and plowed when the storm hits. Now is a good time to plan routes to get to work, the grocery store, child care and medical appointments.


The brochures are free at Seattle Public Library branches, Neighborhood Service Centers, and available soon at Seattle Parks Community Centers.


They are available in 10 languages including: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Somali, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Amharic.


We’ve distributed brochures to Seattle public elementary schools students to share with their parents and families, in addition to local hospitals and community organizations.


The Winter Weather and Snow Route Map for 2014/2015 are viewable and downloadable at the following link:

New Downtown Parklet opens

The new Chromer Building Parklet is open at 2nd Ave at Pike St (1516 2nd Ave.) featuring spaced concrete blocks for seating in addition to chairs, tables and games (large Jenga blocks, and Connect 4).




Urban Visions manages the Chromer Building and hosts the new parklet adjacent to their recently-renovated building. The parklet is downtown’s first and the largest to open in SDOT’s Pilot Parklet Program.

Shannon Nichol of parklet designer Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, talks about the space utilization with SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Downtown Seattle Association CEO Jon Scholes, and Greg Smith Urban Visions Founder

Shannon Nichol of parklet designer Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, talks about the space utilization with SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Downtown Seattle Association CEO Jon Scholes, and Greg Smith, Urban Visions Founder

The parklet will offer a unique public space in the Downtown core featuring seating, art, bike parking, and different types of programming. Parklets are small community gathering spaces built in a few on-street parking spots, are a cost-effective way to activate streets, create more vibrant neighborhoods, and promote economic vitality. The Chromer Building parklet will be the fifth parklet to open in the Pilot Parklet Program.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly says it's a great addition for all to use and enjoy.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly says it’s a great addition for all to use and enjoy.

Seattle now has five parklets open, and another 10 to open in the coming months. Parklets are now open at Montana Bar (Capitol Hill), Oasis Tea Zone (Chinatown/International District), Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Wallingford), and Cortona Café (Central District). The Chromer Building parklet (Downtown). SDOT is continuing to work with the following parklet hosts to permit their parklets:

  • City Hostel Seattle in Belltown (2327 2nd Ave)
  • Harbour Pointe Coffeehouse in Madison Valley (2818 E Madison St)
  • Equilibrium Fitness in West Seattle (3270 California Ave SW)
  • Tin Umbrella Coffee Roasters in Hillman City (5600 Rainier Ave S)
  • Bottlehouse and Hi Spot Café in Madrona (1416 34th Ave)
  • Lost Lake Lounge and Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill (10th Ave and Pike St)
  • Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Denny Triangle (1915 Terry Ave)
  • Uptown Alliance at SIFF Cinema in Uptown (511 Queen Anne Ave N)
  • U District Advocates in the University District (1316 NE 43rd St)
  • Delancey in Ballard (1415 NW 70th St)

Mercer Corridor Project – Third Eastbound Lane on Mercer Street Opened November 16

The Mercer Corridor Project recently opened a third eastbound lane on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and 9th Avenue North.  Construction Crews have worked diligently to complete paving, lane striping, and signal adjustments in order to reach this important milestone. The new configuration provides three continual eastbound lanes on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and I-5, providing some relief for travel from Queen Anne and Seattle Center across Aurora Avenue North.

Crews also added two new turn lanes from westbound Mercer Street onto southbound 5th Avenue North and demolished the remaining portions of the bridge over Broad Street at Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North. Work continues on the sidewalk and bike path on the north side of Mercer Street, at the intersection of Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North, and along 5th Avenue North.  As a reminder, please pay attention to street signs as travelers adjust to new traffic patterns.

For up-to-minute construction updates join our project email list at: or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-419-5818.

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North



SDOT talks Winter WeatherPreparations with KING TV

SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke shares with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, SDOT’s winter preparations plan explaining major streets are prioritized for snow response and the use of de-icing salt and plows are ready when called into action. Christopher tells Tracy, “It’s a coordinated regional effort with other city, county, and state agencies working together to keep people and traffic moving so they can get to where there going”.

We will plow major streets which are the streets that are most important for getting to major public institutions such as hospitals and schools; the streets that are most frequently used by police, fire trucks and buses; and streets leading to Seattle’s major employers. We do not plow non-arterial streets.

In Seattle, winter can bring heavy rain, high winds, ice and snow. We’re monitoring conditions.

  • Our staff follows weather reports 24 hours a day, all year long, with a direct line to the National Weather Service and live Doppler radar feeds.
  • We use a forecasting tool developed with the University of Washington called SNOWWATCH to learn how a storm will most likely affect different neighborhoods. This information helps determine where the crews will be needed first.
  • Our computerized sensors located on city bridges, and also ground surface sensors, provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures.
  • We use real-time, live-streaming cameras to see actual conditions on key streets. You can see the camera views on SDOT’s website,

The City of Seattle takes a proactive approach, using best practices to respond to snow and ice:

    • SDOT crews use trucks fitted with plows and salt-spreaders to keep major streets clear.
    • When conditions allow, the crews pre-treat key streets and bridges with salt brine before the snow starts falling to help prevent ice from forming.
    • As the snow begins to fall, the crews continue to drive their routes, treating the roadway with salt brine or granular salt where needed. When approximately one inch of snow has accumulated, they begin plowing.
    • During a snow event, a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system tracks the locations of the trucks. The Winter Weather Response Map on SDOT’s website shows where the trucks are at the current time and also which streets the trucks have already serviced. During a major storm you will be able to see the map on our website at start preparing for winter in the summer, training staff, calibrating equipment and working with local agency partners.
    • When high winds or heavy rain are forecast, our crews are ready to remove fallen trees from the road, and to repair signs and signals.
    • Our supplies of granular salt and salt brine are ready to help keep ice from forming on main city streets and bridges.
SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke chats with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, about SDOT’s winter preparations plan

SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke chats with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, about SDOT’s winter preparations plan


KING TV Morning Anchors Joyce Taylor, Tracy Taylor, Rich Marriott, and Mark Wright during the "Take Winter By Storm" video shoot where SDOT talked about Winter weather preparedness

KING TV Morning Anchors Joyce Taylor, Tracy Taylor, Rich Marriott, and Mark Wright during the “Take Winter By Storm” video shoot where SDOT talked about Winter weather preparedness



Investigating Carbon Fiber Potential

The proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 at Northgate – linking the North Seattle College on the west with the bus and (future) light rail transit center on the east – has to be pretty high for vehicles on the freeway to pass underneath. That height (about 40 feet above 1st Avenue NE) makes for a looong approach ramp, over 1500 feet, most of it up in the air.

Traditionally these bridge types are steel, and that is what the design codes reference, but SDOT’s team is considering the possibility of using carbon fiber – the stuff that Boeing uses in the 787. Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel at less than a quarter of the weight which enables longer spans, smaller foundations, faster construction and less traffic disruption. Andy Bridge, Director of Research and Development for Janicki Industries, says other advantages include reduced visual impacts due to a thinner support structure, easily formed organic shapes, and lower maintenance costs.

The SDOT Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge team will be considering many factors – principally safety – in making design decisions, but is excited about the potential of new materials and methods.   This is just one way in which SDOT is seeking to take advantage of innovations in design to reduce costs and provide great service.

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate