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: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/mercercorridor.htm 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, www.seattle.gov/travelers.

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 web6.seattle.gov/sdot/winterweathermap.We 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

Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit, Design Workshop and Open House, Nov. 20

trolley bus

 

Come to a workshop to help refine concepts for the Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit to improve transit service in the Madison Corridor.

When: Thursday, November 20, 5 – 7 PM

Where: Silver Cloud Hotel, 1100 Broadway (at Madison)

The workshop will be organized around interactive design stations focused on each neighborhood in the corridor – Downtown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill/Central Area. At each station, we’ll present community-developed design ideas that focus on key intersections or a potential station location within each area.

Each station will be staffed with engineers, planners, and urban designers to allow for an interactive conversation and sketching of design ideas to capture community ideas and feedback.

The goal of the workshop is to refine community-developed design ideas to serve as the foundation for developing corridor-wide bus rapid transit alternatives to be evaluated in the Madison Corridor BRT Study.

SDOT launched the Madison Corridor BRT Study earlier this year and the year-long study is expected to conclude next summer. The Study will develop a bus rapid transit concept for the corridor that has stakeholder, public and elected official support; is backed by a viable phasing and implementation plan; and positions the City for future funding opportunities to help design and build the project.

This Workshop and Open House is an important step in gaining insight into corridor issues and locations ripe for improvement.

How to get there:
Metro bus service provides direct connections to the Silver Cloud Hotel via Routes 2, 9, 43, 49, and 60 (Broadway and E Union St. stop) and Route 12 (Broadway and Madison stop).  For bicyclists, the protected bike lane on Broadway provides direct access to Silver Cloud, the closest bike racks are just west of the Madison and Boylston intersection, one block west of the Silver Cloud Hotel.

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 Sara Walton at madisonbrt@seattle.gov or (206) 386-4645.

 

 

Innovative Maintenance Facility

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture  courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

The streetcars that will run on the First Hill Line will be maintained in a facility that was just awarded a LEED Gold Certificate for its many sustainable features. Some of the most notable elements are:

  • a green roof with a 7kW solar panel array
  • a bio-retention area and pervious concrete pavers to maximize stormwater collection and infiltration
  • abundant daylighting with operable windows and skylights to provide natural ventilation and cooling
  • high efficiency LED and fluorescent lighting with smart controls
  • radiant in-floor heating which utilizes a high efficiency hydronic heating boiler

Other energy systems for the facility include a heat recovery ventilator, a variable refrigerant flow system and heat reclaim from the electrical room.

These characteristics are all the more impressive when considering that the nature of the facility and its construction. More than 17% of the materials used in the construction (by cost) were recycled and more than 10% were sourced locally (within 500 miles). The lumber used was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure responsible forest management and while other materials and finishes were low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) certified.

In addition the facility will foster ongoing energy savings by maintenance staff. It includes an electric car charging station, bicycle storage and (energy efficient) showers.

This Gold LEEDS Certificate demonstrates the viability of adopting sustainable design for all types of buildings – and the commitment to innovation in the design and maintenance of Seattle’s Streetcar system.

LEED Certifications

Streetcar Connection for Center of the City

Center City Open House Handout-1No transportation project may better exemplify the value of transportation connections in Seattle than the Seattle Streetcar – Center City Connector. This project would literally connect South Lake Union streetcar line, which opened in 2007, with the First Hill streetcar line which will begin operations in 2015. The Center City Connector will link over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods with a system that stretches from Capitol Hill and First Hill, to the International District and South Downtown, and north to the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union, passing through the heart of downtown. By linking existing streetcar investments, the Connector will provide a streetcar system that is easy-to-use for a variety of trip purposes and serves major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. With this new linkage, the Seattle Center City streetcar system is projected to carry in the range of 23,000 to 30,000 average weekday riders.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved First Avenue as the route for this new streetcar segment. The streetcar will serve key Center City destinations such as the Pike Place Market, Marion Street bridge to the ferries at Colman Dock, and Pioneer Square.

Completion of the Center City Connector will allow for a new operating pattern designed to provide very high frequency service-every five minutes from the Westlake area to Pioneer Square, and every ten minutes outside of the core.  The City Council has authorized SDOT to proceed with design and environmental review as well as development of funding strategies. The City will be seeking a Federal grant of up to $75 million toward the $110M project cost. Preliminary work is already underway focusing on urban design opportunities, connection options between First Avenue and the Westlake Transportation Hub, parking and access strategies, and construction phasing options.

An Open House for the project is planned for November 19th 5:00 – 7:30 PM, at 85 Pike Street on the 3rd Floor in the Elliott Bay Room and Atrium Loft. Feel free to find out more about the Seattle Streetcar at http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/default.htm where you can sign up to receive updates on this and other streetcar news.

Center City Open House Handout1_Page_2

 

Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Extension project: Moving dirt

If you dumped the soil that will be removed to build Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Extension on the football field at CenturyLink, it would stand about 350 feet high. That’s nearly 100 feet taller than the stadium’s roof. Fortunately for football and soccer fans, the 756,000 cubic yards of dirt will head truck by truck to reclaim old gravel quarries in Snohomish and Yakima counties. And while crews are making good progress on tunneling and excavation, it will take about two more years before crews have all that dirt removed.

northagtelink

Above: Miners wait for an approaching delivery of concrete tunnel segments. The crew is standing in the tunnel boring machine which removes the dirt and builds the tunnel walls.

Meanwhile excavators have dug about 40 feet down at the Roosevelt Station site. Crews need to finish excavation before the tunnel boring machines arrive. At U District Station, crews are currently building a temporary bridge that will carry eastbound traffic on NE 43rd Street until 2017 while excavation and tunneling is under way.

northgatelink2

Excavators have removed more than 40 feet worth of dirt from the Roosevelt Station site

A crew puts finishing touches on the installation of an underground electrical distribution line on Weedin Place NE.

A crew puts finishing touches on the installation of an underground electrical distribution line on Weedin Place NE.

After tunneling and excavation, another contractor will have a lot of work to do to build the new stations at U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. Riders will be able to use the extension by 2021.If you would like more information on Sound Transit’s Northgate Link construction, Sound Transit is hosting drop in sessions today and tomorrow. You can also visit the project website for more information or call the 24-hour construction hotline (888) 298-2395 with more immediate issues.

Wednesday, October 22

5-7 pm

Whole Foods front kitchen

1024 NE 64th St

Thursday, October 23

5-7 pm

Northgate Transit Center Bus Platform

10200 1st Ave NE

Access Seattle: Working for South Lake Union Mobility

SLU

Map of SLU construction – click to enlarge

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

Dreaming of an interconnected City

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. Gil Penalosa

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.

Season 2 of Seawall Construction Begins Today

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.

Fencing was installed to safely contain the work area, and construction equipment has been mobilized.

Fencing was installed to safely contain the work area, and construction equipment has been mobilized.

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.

Several waterfront attractions are open and accessible throughout construction

Several waterfront attractions are open and accessible throughout construction

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 (seawall@waterfrontseattle.org) or call the 24-hour hotline (206.618.8584).