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Transit Improvements Coming to First Avenue and Denny Way

1st--Denny-Transit-Improvements-Map_webSDOT 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 p.m. to 9:00 p.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 or (206) 684-4209.


Central Area Neighborhood Greenway Open Houses

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.

CANG Most Promising Route

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

Read more »


Four-day SR 99 Closure Shines Spotlight on Tunnel’s North Portal

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.

North Portal of the Tunnel

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.


Freight Master Plan, BTG Financial Review and more


Would you like to know more about progress made by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on developing a Freight Master Plan? How about a review of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) finances and an update on the 2014 BTG work plan implementation? Would you like to meet new folks and find out how you can get engaged?   If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in luck!

The BTG Levy Oversight Committee has a meeting scheduled for July 29, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m., Seattle City Hall Room 370. The committee is a dedicated group of 15 community members who meet quarterly to review and track the progress of the BTG transportation initiative that was passed by Seattle voters in 2006. They are charged with ensuring SDOT is delivering on the promises made to voters.

Committee members come from all across the city and from all walks of life. They take their oversight and accountability role seriously and they work closely with SDOT to ensure that BTG is not only meeting its goals, but that it is being integrated into the overall goals of the department and the City.

The committee members include:

  • Ann Martin, Co-chair
  • Kristen Lohse, Co-chair
  • Ref Lindmark
  • Betty Seith-Croll
  • Allegra Calder
  • John Coney
  • Jeremy Valenta
  • Barbara Wright
  • Chisula Chambers
  • Jessica Szelag, Bicycle Advisory Board member
  • Lydia Heard, Pedestrian Advisory Board member
  • David Mendoza, Freight Advisory Board member
  • Ben Noble, City Budget Director
  • Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee Chair

All committee meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend and share their views on BTG during public comment. If you are interested in how your tax dollars are allocated, why not mark your calendar and join us July 29th.

For more information, please visit BTG Levy Oversight Committee website.




Broadway Streetcar Goes Public


FHSC Ext staring at the dwesigns RESIZE DSC_2878

About a hundred people showed up last Tuesday evening, June 17,  for an open house on the Broadway Streetcar project, the first major public event since design work began in February. The open house, held at the Lowell Elementary School between 6 p.m. and  p.m., had staff and consultants arrayed throughout the room by display boards to answer questions – as well as by the obligatory coffee and cookies table.

FHSC Ext 3 peeps at easel RESIZE DSC_2898The first display board provided a map showing Seattle’s four streetcar lines: South Lake Union (completed in 2007), First Hill (starting operation later this year), Broadway (now in design, possibly opening late in 2016) and the City Center Connector (now in planning).

Other display boards focused on the timeline, the basic elements of the streetcar and the distinguishing features of the Broadway line. However, the main focus of public’s attention was the large plot showing the planned location of the streetcar track and the protected bicycle lane on Broadway north of Denny. The plot showed that parking had been preserved on both sides of the street except where left turn lanes were needed. It also showed where the station platforms are being planned and what the cross-section of the street at the platforms would look like (as well as between platforms).

FHSC Ext Easel two person shotRESIZE DSC_2903Two boards, one showing a terminus at East Roy Street and another showing the terminus at East Prospect Street were also shown, as the project team has yet to recommend one over the other.

Public reaction was generally favorable, with some concerns about the loss of even a limited number of parking spaces and others about the expense. Many attendees were excited about the extension of the protected bicycle lane along Broadway, but the most enthusiasm was for having a streetcar that would connect Broadway directly with First Hill, Pioneer Square and the Stadium District. Some folks even urged a future connection directly uphill from South Lake Union to Capitol Hill to complete a loop route!

Materials presented at the open house are available on the project website .   If you would like to comment, or if you have questions, feel free to email .


Summer is here and SDOT crews are busy


N/NE Northgate Way and N 105th project is on target to wrap up this summer.

N/NE Northgate Way and N 105th project is on target to wrap up this summer.


The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on track to meet its 2014 goals for the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative. As summer begins, we have moved into the busy construction season and you can find work on BTG projects all across the city. SDOT has been busy paving roads, constructing new sidewalk, installing new signs and restriping roadway markings. BTG continues to make steady progress towards its nine-year goals.

This year, SDOT will complete two major paving projects – N 105th, N/NE Northgate Way and Holman Road – both projects are underway and will bring 17 new lane-miles of paving. And that’s not all, since January:

  • 15 new crossing improvements have been implemented and new pedestrian countdown signals installed at 40 intersections.
  • 263 new bicycle parking spaces and 14 miles of bike route signs have been installed. Crews have also inspected 40 miles of trails.
  • Three Safe Routes to School projects have been completed, 56 new curb ramps have been constructed and 11 school zones have been improved.
  • 444 new street trees have been planted so far this year and more than 457 have been pruned.

SDOT crews are also chipping away on much-needed maintenance work as well. Just this year, they have already replaced more than 1,558 regulatory traffic signs, installed new street name signs at 487 intersections, remarked more than 240 crosswalks and replaced 796 linear feet of poor guard rail.

During the seven and half years of the levy, the City has delivered on the promises made by Bridging the Gap. To date SDOT has paved 205 lane-miles of road, secured 50,000 new hours of transit service, constructed 100 blocks of new sidewalk, repaired 167 blocks of sidewalk, remarked 4,729 crosswalks, replaced 44,439 regulatory signs, installed school zone signage at 196 schools, replaced street name signs at 9,873 intersections, striped 150 miles of bike lanes and sharrows and planted 5,569 new street trees.

For more information about BTG and its goals and progress towards meeting those goals, please visit the BTG web page.


A Very Tiny Parade

In this photo of a pantograph cart you can see the aluminum test bar on the top of the t-shaped structure. Also note the flanged train wheels on either side of the rubber tires. In order to line up the testing gauges, the cart will be towed along the track on those wheels.

In this photo of a pantograph cart you can see the aluminum test bar on the top of the t-shaped structure. Also note the flanged train wheels on either side of the rubber tires. In order to line up the testing gauges, the cart will be towed along the track on those wheels.

If you love a parade, no matter how small, you will want to station yourself along the First Hill Streetcar route this Saturday. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will be testing streetcar elements by pulling a “pantograph cart” along the new streetcar track (we told you it was a small parade). The idea is to replicate streetcar operations as closely as possible in order to make sure everything is functioning properly prior to testing the streetcars on the tracks.

First, what’s a “pantograph”? It is a device mounted on the roof of a streetcar that makes contact with the overhead electric wire and transfers the electricity from the wire to the motors that power the streetcar.

The pantograph cart is a small trailer that has been designed and outfitted to conduct specialized tests of the streetcar track, the overhead electrical system, and structures along the track (such as the station platforms).

To test the overhead wires, the cart has been outfitted with an aluminum test bar the same height and width as the contact bars that will be on our streetcars’ pantographs. The cart will be pulled along the streetcar route at a walking pace, accompanied by project engineers who will monitor the position of the overhead power wire relative to the test bar.

This is an example of the testing gauge being built to replicate the streetcar’s profile, size, and dimensions.

This is an example of the testing gauge being built to replicate the streetcar’s profile, size, and dimensions.

To test the clearance between the cars and the station platforms, a “gauge” has been built that replicates the profile of the train. The gauge is mounted in front of the cart and is made out of aluminum, surrounded by rubber, and affixed to a steel tubular frame.

This is just one of many different tests being conducted prior to the start of streetcar operation. If you are lucky enough to see the pantograph cart in action, snap a photo of it and tweet it to us at .


SDOT nears completion of the Belltown-Uptown Trolley Electrification

SDOT is nearing completion of the construction of the Belltown-Uptown Trolley Electrification project. This project extends trolley wires and related infrastructure on eastbound Denny Way between First and Third Avenues, and a short segment of Third Avenue between Denny and Broad. When the project is finished, Metro routes 1, 2 and 13 will be able to operate on Denny Way and travel times will be reduced by up to two minutes per trip. These trolley routes currently operate a convoluted routing via First Avenue and Broad Street. The new path will shorten the route and eliminate two turns. The revision will also put trolleys on the same route and at the same stops as Metro’s diesel-operated buses, simplifying the rider experience.

Belltown_Denny trolley project_RESIZE DSC01665This project is a partnership between SDOT and King County Metro. SDOT agreed to fund the design and installation of the poles that are needed to support the trolley wires. King County Metro funded the installation of the wires and the trolley wires through regular crew work. The project is designed to accommodate outbound wires as well, should SDOT approve a new outbound transit-only signal at Third and Denny.

In addition to extending the trolley wires, SDOT and King County Metro are relocating the existing bus stop on Denny at Warren Place to 3rd and Denny. The new bus stop will feature lighting, a bicycle rack, and (later this year) a real time schedule information sign. Metro will contribute two new shelters to the stop, which will provide greater amount of waiting area for bus riders and space for three buses to load and unload rather than one. This is the most significant Metro trolley improvement project since construction of new layover wire on Virginia Street allowed all Route 36 trips to operate as trolleys, saving tens of thousands of gallons of diesel per year.


June 3rd Open House for the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge


ped bike Bridge RESIZE

We’d like to hear your thoughts on the concepts we’ve developed for Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge before we move into design. So, please come to our open house next week to see models of some of the preliminary design concepts, comment on the selection criteria we’ll use to select between bridge types and alignments and speak with our project staff. Sound Transit staff will also be on hand to answer questions about the Northgate Station.

The open house will be on Tuesday, June 3 between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Olympic View Elementary School cafeteria (504 NE 95th Street).  There will be a short presentation at 6 p.m. giving an overview of the project and the options for the bridge type and bridge alignments.

Once built, the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge will provide a non-motorized crossing over Interstate 5 to reconnect the communities, neighborhoods, businesses and schools in the Northgate area. The bridge will be located somewhere between NE 100th and NE 103rd streets and will likely be between 1800 and 2200 feet long. We expect to identify a preferred option this fall, and possibly begin construction in 2016, finishing well before Sound Transit’s North Link line begins operation.

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

If you have questions or comments about the project or the Open House, please contact:

Art Brochet, Communications Lead

(206) 615-0786 •



Broadway Protected Bike Lane Expected to Open Next Week

042914 Paul _FHSC bike parking signs

Just in time for National Bike Month, Broadway’s Protected Bike Lane opens Wednesday morning, May 7.   The protected bike lane, a design feature of the First Hill Streetcar project, helps cyclists avoid streetcar tracks and creates a facility where people of all ages and abilities can ride a bike.

The City of Seattle is developing the First Hill Streetcar in a partnership with Sound Transit with funding of $134 million provided through the 2008 voter approved Sound Transit 2 (ST2) transit expansion plan.  Construction of the protected bike lane was included with the First Hill Streetcar Project in response to community input and the high concentration of bicycle riders who live, work, or go to school on Capitol Hill and use Broadway as a major transportation corridor.

Broadway is becoming a complete street where one can walk, bike, take transit or drive depending on their needs.  Extending 1.2 miles along Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler Way, the protected bike lane incorporates a buffer between people riding bikes and moving cars.  The facility features   a two foot buffer separating the bike lane from the traffic or parking lanes to enhance bicycle safety and provide predictability for all users.

Additional features of the ten foot wide, two-way bike lane includes smooth new road surfaces, bike-friendly drainage grates, and green painted pavement at those locations where bicyclist and cars cross each other’s paths.   Special traffic signals at intersections provide a few seconds of advanced green time for cyclists, to ensure they are visible to motorists making right turns across the bike lane.  (Right turns on red across the bike lane are prohibited along the entire lane length.)  Posted signage warns motorists of the presence of bicyclists and informs them of the need to stop for bikes.

The northern third of the Broadway Protected Bicycle Lane, the segment between Denny Way and Union Street, was opened to cyclists in October 2013.  SDOT is applying lessons learned from the opening of the first segment to provide additional information about traffic operations on Broadway with this new bike facility.  In advance of the protected bike lane opening, SDOT has added 23 temporary signs with photos to clarify where motorists can park and where they cannot.  Learn more about how to use protected bike lanes by visiting  You can even watch a 40 second video showing how a two-stage left turn box works at

Construction of the underground pedestrian concourse at Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link Light Rail station has narrowed the street between Denny Way and Howell, in turn requiring the closure of this one-block section of the bicycle lane.  In July this year, the work will shift from the west to the east side of Broadway.  This construction is slated to continue until the end of the year, during which time people riding bikes can detour along Harvard Avenue between Denny Way and Pine Street.

Later this year, streetcar operations will begin on Broadway and the rest of the 2.5 mile/10 station First Hill Streetcar line. Construction of the streetcar facilities is now approaching substantial completion; streetcar manufacturing, delivery and   testing will continue through the summer as the preparations for operational startup begin.  Additional information on the project can be found at

The First Hill Streetcar will be the first Sound Transit 2 rail project to come online. Sound Transit is on track to open the University Link light rail extension, which is six to nine months ahead of schedule and more than $100 million under budget, in early 2016. By 2023 Sound Transit is on track to deliver more than 30 additional miles of light rail extensions approved as part of Sound Transit 2, including extensions east to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area; south to Angle Lake and Kent/Des Moines; and north to the U District, Roosevelt, Northgate, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.

Broadway Parking Postcard RESIZED