What we’ve been up to: Mercer Corridor Project’s Substantial Completion Photo Blog

In August 2015, the West Phase of the Mercer Corridor Project reached substantial completion – meaning all major closures and improvements to the corridor are complete! All that remains is a localized closure on Roy St. and some low-key maintenance items with associated lane closures around the area, including landscaping, striping, and a few repairs. Here are a few of the key improvements throughout the corridor:


New, separated bike lanes and a widened pedestrian walkway were installed along the north side of Mercer St. in addition to a widened sidewalk on the south side. Trees and landscaping provide a buffer from the roadway. Here you can also see the expanded underpass beneath SR 99. The widened span, with elimination of the center columns, brings in more light.



Widened, two-way Mercer St at 5th Ave. N.: there are three lanes of eastbound and westbound traffic as well as updated intersections, crosswalks, and landscaping. Corners at this and all intersections have been updated to provide safe, accessible crossings for all users.



Looking south – the intersection of Dexter Ave. N and Mercer St., showing an updated configuration of traffic lanes, bike lanes, and the pedestrian crosswalk. Signals and signage at this intersection help eliminate conflicts between right-turning traffic and the many pedestrians and bicyclists who cross Mercer at this intersection.



The intersection of 5th Ave. N, Thomas St., and Broad St. has been reconfigured significantly, improving access for pedestrians at this major entrance to Seattle Center, thereby accommodating traffic volumes on Fifth Ave N and Broad Street, and separating pedestrians and delivery vehicles on the Seattle Center campus.

SDOT Seeks Input on Possible Expanded Restrictions for Ship Canal Bridge Openings

open bridge

SDOT owns and operates three bridges spanning the Ship Canal (Ballard, Fremont, and University bridges). WSDOT owns and operates the Montlake Bridge. The operation of these bridges is regulated by the US Coast Guard who authorized SDOT and WSDOT to keep the bridges closed on weekdays at 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM (except for large commercial vessels).

While the number of bridge openings has remained fairly consistent in recent years, the morning and afternoon commute peaks and traffic volumes have grown. With an average bridge opening lasting five minutes, hundreds of cars back up each time. Buses run behind schedule, emergency vehicles at times are delayed, commuters take longer to get to work or back home, and many of those motorists waiting leave their engines running, spewing polluting emissions into the atmosphere.

An illustrative graph for a one week period last August at the Ballard Bridge. The number of bridge openings is heaviest at the same time the vehicular traffic load is at its highest. For example, during the period from 6 to 7 PM, there were 11 weekday bridge openings that week, or an average of two each day. During that same one hour period about 2,600 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

[Click to enhance] An illustrative graph for a one week period last August at the Ballard Bridge. The number of bridge openings is heaviest at the same time the vehicular traffic load is at its highest. For example, during the period from 6 to 7 PM, there were 11 weekday bridge openings that week, or an average of two each day. During that same one hour period about 2,600 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

In response, SDOT is considering a petition to the US Coast Guard to seek a change to current restrictions. We’d propose a one year trial period for whatever expansion they might approve, after which the Coast Guard would decide whether the additional restrictions have produced sufficient benefit to justify making them permanent.

However, before SDOT files any such petition, we’re asking for feedback. Are additional restrictions warranted? If so, what would be reasonable?

We are asking individuals and/or organizations that might wish to share some thoughts to do so by Wednesday, September 30. Please send such comments to our project email address ShipCanalBridgeOpenings@seattle.gov, or send them via US mail to:


Ship Canal Bridge Openings

c/o Roadway Structures

Seattle Department of Transportation

PO Box 34996 (SMT-38-00)

Seattle, WA 98124-4996


For more information, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/shipcanalOpenings.htm

Seattle Welcomes New Metro Electric Trolley Buses

SDOT is pleased that King County Metro riders are getting around in the new electric trolleys in downtown Seattle and nearby neighborhoods. You may have seen, or been on one of the new purple-accented electric trolleys that serves Seattle. King County Metro introduced the first completely new state-of-the-art electric trolleys in nearly 30 years this month.

The new trolleys are quiet, energy-efficient and emissions-free and use an estimated 20 to 30 percent less energy than the current electric trolley buses. They have regenerative braking that puts energy back into the trolley.

metro-electric-trolley2The first five of 174 replacement trolley buses went into service last week and the remaining trolleys will be phased in over the next two years. The new trolleys have the ability to go off-wire for short distances to detour around construction zones and other obstacles and stay on schedule. The buses also have passenger-activated back doors for easier exiting, air conditioning and low floors for easier boarding and exiting.

For useful travelers information, here’s SDOT’s Getting Around Seattle link.





Join Us to Discuss Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements

SDOT appreciates your help last fall when you helped us create a list of potential improvements to Third Avenue. We are inviting you to meet us on the street to hear about design updates and share your thoughts.

Here are the dates, we look forward to seeing and hearing from you:

  • Monday, Aug. 31 – 3-6 p.m. on Third Avenue between Battery & Bell streets
  • Wednesday, Sept. 2  – 3-6 p.m. on Third Avenue between Pike & Union streets
  • Thursday, Sept. 3 – 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Third Avenue between Yesler Way & S Washington Street

Third Avenue is downtown Seattle’s most heavily used transit corridor. More than 2,500 buses travel the corridor every weekday and about 42,000 people board at bus stops on the corridor each day. Thousands of visitors, workers, shoppers and area residents also use Third Avenue daily.

Third Avenue


To help create a positive and inviting environment for transit users and pedestrians, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro Transit are working together to make the corridor an inviting, accommodating, safe and attractive place where people want to be.


The Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements Project will complement and be coordinated with the many other improvement projects underway in the downtown area.

Seattle Department of Transportation: Third Avenue Transit Corridor ImprovementsThe Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements Project is part of a larger plan to create a vibrant, safe and thriving Third Avenue. It will improve transit function and create a more welcoming urban environment along the corridor between Denny and Jackson streets. The project has extended transit priority measures approximately .75 miles north through the Belltown neighborhood.3rAveMap1014

For more information:

SDOT Contacts:


KC Metro Contacts:


Neighborhood Street Fund Projects Moving Along! West Woodland Complete, Lake to Bay Underway

One pedestrian improvement project wraps up, and another begins!

After seven weeks of construction, pedestrian safety improvements around the intersection of 3rd Avenue NW, NW 56th Street and NW 55th Place, near West Woodland Elementary School in Ballard, are now finished.


Before: A confusing intersection with long pedestrian crossing distances

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) appreciates the community’s patience throughout this project. These improvements will make it safer for people who walk, bike and drive:

  • New four-way stop at 3rd Avenue NW and NW 56th Street, to slow all traffic
  • New curb extensions (or “bulbs”), to shorten pedestrian crossings
  • New curb ramps, which comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, to improve accessibility
  • New signs, to alert drivers to watch out for pedestrians
After: Schoolchildren and their parents will appreciate safer crossings in the fall

After: Schoolchildren and their parents will appreciate safer crossings in the fall

Half of the West Woodland Pedestrian Safety Improvements Project was funded through SDOT’s Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) Program, which is financed by the Bridging the Gap program approved by Seattle voters in 2006. The other half of this project’s funding has come from the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Our next Neighborhood Street Fund project will improve pedestrian safety in Lower Queen Anne. Work begins August 3 and is expected to last six weeks, depending on the weather. The construction work, on W Harrison Street at the intersections with 1st Avenue W and 2nd Avenue W, is part of the “Lake to Bay Loop” project, because W Harrison Street connects the South Lake Union area to Elliott Bay.

At these two intersections on W Harrison Street, crews working for SDOT will install new curb extensions, ramps that comply with ADA standards, and new marked pedestrian crossings.

People walking, biking and driving can expect the following impacts during construction:

  • 24/7 road and sidewalk closures at the intersections of 1st Avenue W and 2nd Avenue W at W Harrison Street (see construction notice for details)
  • Short-term parking and lane restrictions on W Harrison Street and on both 1st Avenue W and 2nd Avenue W
  • Noise, dust and vibration
  • Typical weekday work hours, 7 AM to 5 PM

Please check the construction notice for more information on the impacts and suggested travel routes.

If you have any questions or concerns during this construction on W Harrison Street, please contact the project team at NSF@seattle.gov or 206-733-9361.

You may learn more about the project by visiting the website: www.seattle.gov/transportation/harrisonstreetimprovements.htm. You may also use this link to sign up to receive project email updates.

Private and Public Investment = Safer Crossings

There’s a new traffic signal at 9th Ave N and Thomas St in South Lake Union, making it easier and safer to navigate through this busy intersection located within this booming part of town. Thanks to a strategic partnership between SDOT and private developers working in the area, people who walk, bike or drive through this intersection have a more predictable experience as they travel.

New signal and intersection improvements at 9th Ave N and Thomas St

New signal and intersection improvements at 9th Ave N and Thomas St

In the upcoming weeks SDOT crews will continue to improve safety at the intersection by adjusting the timing of the signals in the area, as well as working with a developer to construct curb ramps on the southeast corner in 2016. This traffic signal project is another example of how we work with community partners to achieve our Vision Zero goal and eliminate traffic related fatalities and serious injuries in Seattle.

Other safety features added to the intersection as part of this signal project include:

  • Audible ADA pedestrian push buttons that help remind people when to cross safely
  • Marked crosswalks to increase safety of people walking or biking along the intersection
  • Upgraded pedestrian curb ramps to make sidewalks more accessible to people on wheelchairs, people using strollers and people biking


This project was funded by South Lake Union private development traffic mitigation fees and the SDOT capital projects program.

Safety Improvements coming to Rainier Avenue

SDOT hosted a public meeting last week at the Rainier Community Center with about 300 community members attending to announce changes coming to Rainier Avenue South.

This project’s goals is to make Rainier Avenue safer for everyone.  There has been about one crash per day on Rainier Avenue .  Within the last 10 years, there have been nearly 3600 total collisions, +1700 injuries, and 11 fatalities.  Each time there is a crash, it takes about 47 minutes to clear the incident.

As a pilot project, Rainier Avenue South will be re-channelized from 4-lanes to 3-lanes between South Alaska and South Kenny streets.  The new channelization will address the correctable collision patterns we’ve seen along Rainier and will have minimal impact to traffic. Construction is already under way and you can see the new striping for the 3-lane configuration.

Rainier SafetyThere is still some work remaining for city crews:

  • Remove existing pavement markings
  • Install new pavement markings including:
    • One travel lane in each direction
    • A center turn lane to accommodate left turning vehicles
    • New transit lanes
  • Install left turn signal heads
  • New transit signal systems and signs
  • Longer signal cycles for vehicles and pedestrians
  • New 25 mph speed limit signs
  • Crack sealing to preserve pavement conditions


We appreciate the community’s patience while work is being done to complete this project. This work is expected to be completed by the end of August.

For more on the Rainier Avenue South Safety Corridor Project.

Here’s our project presentation which includes information about the modifications and travel time changes for the new 3-lane configuration: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/RainierValleycombined.pdf.

Be Smart. Plan Ahead. Designate A Driver Seafair Weekend.

City of Seattle encourages safe travel on land and water and hopes everyone gets safely to and from wherever the weekend takes them.  Here is a link to Seafair’s page on transportation options and parking for Seafair Weekend.

seafairweekend(2)(1)With this upcoming weekend’s Seafair Weekend events, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) would like to remind everyone to plan ahead before heading out to enjoy Seafair activities. That includes minding your speed, watching for out for other people, and designating a driver, behind the wheel of a car or boat, to keep our roads and waterways safe for all. The reminder is part of Vision Zero – Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and fatalities by 2030.

The city has seen an increase in total crashes, injuries and distracted-related collisions during Seafair weekend on roads near Seafair Weekend events.

Seafair is one of the busiest boating events of the season. Drinking and operating a boat is subject to the same DUI laws as operating a motor vehicle, and SPD’s Harbor Patrol actively enforces these laws. Extra enforcement patrols will also be on land, given the festivities extend from the water to public parks and streets.

The City of Seattle is committed to safe travel and to eliminating traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. Earlier this year, the City launched Vision Zero to design smarter streets, enforce existing laws, and educate the public on safe travel behavior.

Vizion Zero

Have a Safe and Fun Weekend! For more information on Vision Zero, visit www.seattle.gov/visionzero.

Traveling in Rainier Valley is About to Become Safer and Easier

Want to help make Rainier Valley a safer and more mobile place to live and work? Join SDOT at our open house on July 30 from 7-9 pm to learn about the projects improving the way people live and travel.

The meeting will be held at the Rainier Community Center on 4600 38th Avenue South. Interpreters in Cambodian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Somali, Amharic, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Oromo will be present, along with treats and child care.

At the open house, we’ll share updates on current projects and the results of intensive data collection and public input on how to make Rainier Avenue South operate more safely for all travelers. We will also facilitate questions and field answers and comments to reflect the priorities of the Rainier Valley community.


Click to Enhance

With the help of the public’s feedback and use of data we are taking steps to achieve Seattle’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries. Working in Rainier Valley is one way we hope to improve the lives of all who value this neighborhood. Once completed, these projects will make it easier and safer for people to walk, bike, ride transit and drive in the area.

Key projects that we will discuss include:

Rainier Valley North-South Neighborhood Greenway

We’re excited to unveil the most promising route for this neighborhood greenway Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016. The greenway extends six miles from Rainier Beach to the I-90 trail through a series of streets with slower posted speed limits. This route provides additional connections to existing greenways and one under construction. It will also create a bicyclist and pedestrian friendly solution to community destinations such as parks, schools and stores. . Check out a map of the route and recommended safety improvements on our project page: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainiervalleygreenways2.htm

Accessible Mt. Baker

This project is currently studies ways to implement safety improvements for those using the Link light rail station and traveling through the Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Rainier Avenue South intersection. The project encompasses a long-term multimodal approach that is consistent with the North Rainier Neighborhood Plan. Some of the proposals under consideration include restoring historic boulevard connections, creating additional links to parks and recreational areas, as well as maintaining unique cultural and community elements. For more information: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/accessibleMtBaker.htm

Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor

Once this project is built, people who travel along this busy street will notice safety enhancements and increased traffic predictability. Using tools like retimed traffic signals and pedestrian enhancements will help us address current behavioral issues like people speeding, or driving distracted. The project limits extend along Rainier Ave S from Charlestown St to Seward Park Ave S with construction planned for this year. For more information: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainieraves.htm

An open house meeting for the Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor in February 2014

An open house meeting for the Rainier Avenue South Road Safety Corridor in February 2014

We hope to see you there!


New South Lake Union Streetcar Ticket Pay Stations!

The South Lake Union Streetcar has 9 new ticket pay stations! Buying a Streetcar ticket for a group or for all day use will become much easier with these new ticket vending machines “TVMs.” The TVMs have added functionality, allowing purchases of:

  • Streetcar-only day passes ($4.50 adult, $3.00 youth and $2.00 senior/Regional Reduced Fare Permit)
  • Multiple tickets (up to five tickets per transaction).
New Streetcar Ticket Pay Stations

New Streetcar Ticket Pay Stations

The TVMs accept coins (nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar coins), cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover) or a combination of coins and card.

The South Lake Union line of the Seattle Streetcar conveniently connects to Seattle’s other public transit systems. Link Light Rail and the Monorail are just across the street from the South Lake Union southern terminus station at Westlake and Olive.

You can transfer to buses at several points along the route. Bus service makes convenient, useful connections at selected streetcar stops including Route 8 (Seattle Center, Capitol Hill, Central District). There are also opportunities to connect to the local bike network along the line, including Pronto Cycle Share stations.2014-12-04 Streetcar Overview Map

For more information about how to ride the Streetcar, please visit: www.seattlestreetcar.org