We got snow! Here’s what we did

In preparation for the Snow event on Monday February 6, we put our response crews on 12-hour shifts, that began on Sunday evening. Our trucks started treating streets and elevated structures. By the time you woke up on Monday to find out kids had a snow day, here’s what SDOT crews had already done.

Snow 2-7-17

Early morning Monday:

Snow 3

Pine Street

  • Mayor Murray visited SDOT Charles Street Maintenance facility to chat with local media and Maintenance Division Director Rodney Maxie about our Winter response.
snow 4

Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Maintenance Operations Division Director Rodney Maxie with media.

  • Crews treated elevated structures and overpasses with salt.
  • SDOT hand crews treated pedestrian routes.
  • Our Incident Response Teams responded to traffic incidents.
  • SDOT tree crews cleared downed trees and branches obstructing streets, such as W Mercer Place.
Tree down

Tree down at W Mercer Place east of Elliot Ave

By Midday:

  • SDOT crews continued to patrolling snow and ice routes, plowing and treating as needed.
  • SDOT tree crews continue to respond to downed trees in the right of way.
  • We replenished our materials in preparation for the evening.


  • Gold & Emerald routes were mostly bare and wet going into the PM commute.
  • Protected Bike Lanes were also clear.

Monday overnight into Tuesday:

  • 30 trucks worked overnight treating the Gold and Emerald priority routes for the Tuesday morning commute.

Good job team! Safe Travels Everyone!

Check out our Winter Weather Home page that has lots of useful information that can help you prepare before snow falls next time.

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Fixing Access and Taking Names

In an emergency, first responders need to know exactly where they’re going to help. But if a street address is hard to find, that can affect response time. That’s why emergency responders like Seattle Fire, Seattle Police, and UW Police requested street name changes for nine locations in the city. At each location, response time was affected by an existing awkward street name or other address issue.

As a result, the City Council passed Ordinance 125106 to change the name of nine streets in Seattle in 2016, including:

  • Broad St between 9th Ave N and Westlake Ave N changed to Roy St
  • S Della St between 27th Ave S and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S changed to S Walden St
  • Cloverdale Place S between Rainier Ave S and Seward Ave S changed to S Cloverdale Place
  • NW 35th St between 1st Ave NW and NW Canal St changed to NW Canal St

All streets in Seattle are named by ordinance and must get Council approval to be changed.

Cloverdale Place S between Rainier Ave S and Seward Ave S became S Cloverdale Place.

The street name signs were updated in late October 2016. These changes meant improved access for 38 addresses, 27 which resulted in an actual address change. Affected residents received notice by mail.

The project was a combined research effort among SDOT, the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection (SDCI), and Seattle IT. The street and address data are used by every department in the City, including by emergency services, for navigation. When the data is inconsistent, incorrect, outdated, or conflicting, it is the City’s responsibility to update the street names by ordinance.

Please note that private map products are responsible for updating their own maps with current data. When in doubt, believe the name on the street name sign over the online map!

If you have questions about your address, please contact SDCI at 206-684-8850. For more about street name signs, go here.

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Marching into the Weekend

Traveling in the city doesn’t always go as planned. Waking up late, losing the keys, or big events happening where you want to go can sometimes delay your plans. Let us help you travel a little easier by preparing you for upcoming road impacts and potential delays.

There are several events and marches planned for Friday and Saturday throughout Seattle with the possibility of a few unplanned events as well. As traffic conditions change, one of the best sources for information is our Twitter feed @Seattledot, run by the friendly operators in our Transportation Operations Center (TOC).IMG_0196

twitterfeedpicOur feed is updated with real-time incident information in Seattle that our operators gather from traffic detectors, cameras and information service providers. They use this information to manage traffic incidents and let you know what’s going on.

So, during big events, such as those planned for this weekend, our Twitter feed can provide information on closures, congestion and detours to help you navigate through the city. With over 140,000 followers, many updates are reported as they happen, making our twitter feed a trusted, shared resource for travelers.

There are many other SDOT resources to help you navigate the City during large events. We manage, through our Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), 200 traffic cameras, and over 100 major events or road closures every month! This allows the traveler’s information website to provide real-time traffic conditions and updates throughout the city and stay up-to-date on planned events and major incidents. You can even get bridge information by following our bridge twitter feed (@SDOTbridges). Our bridge feed has relevant bridge information including closures and delays. And don’t forget to check out our dynamic message signs (DMSs), which often display closures, detour routes, and delays.

However you decide to get the information you need, we hope you travel safely!

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HALA for Transit Improvements

As we begin the new year, we continue our efforts to make Seattle an affordable and vibrant city for all its residents, including conversations and adjustments to the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

On January 10, 2017, we attended a neighborhood HALA meeting at Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill. One hundred people came, and we were there to answer questions about city parking policies and the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Madison street BRT will provide enhanced public transportation between First Avenue downtown and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

We will continue to participate in citywide conversations around HALA and joining people in their communities for scheduled meetings to make giving feedback more accessible. We are using technology to gather input on HALA objectives, such as keeping our communities affordable and accessible.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

The Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to achieving this objective by improving safety for all travelers, maintaining our streets and bridges, and investment in reliable, affordable transit options for our growing City. The meetings serve as an opportunity to learn about resulting transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood while providing us with your knowledge of our city.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

The next meeting, on February 4, 2017, will provide another opportunity to learn more about HALA and transportation issues in southeast Seattle communities. We will be there to discuss a Parking Management Proposal for changes to parking in and around Columbia City.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle HALA page.

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What’s in the Box?


Just kidding – no robots in the boxes.

Have you ever wondered what’s in those big metal boxes on street corners? Some may be painted and some may be plain aluminum –  but what goes on inside those things?

If you happen to be at an intersection with a traffic signal, what you’re looking at is a signal controller cabinet.  These cabinets control the traffic signal and house all the sensitive electronic equipment that help the signal work efficiently.

What’s in the box?

  • Signal controller: The brains! These devices are simple computers that receive inputs from various sources that, along with a timing plan, make decisions on how to change the signal.


    Signal controller. Photo courtesy of Siemens.

  • Detection: The eyes and ears. Our traffic signals use one of three types of detection methods (video, inductive loop and magnetometers) to notify the signal that there is a vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian at the intersection, allowing the controller to provide each their turn in the intersection.

Three types of detection methods: video, inductive loop and magnetometer.

  • Priority Devices: Decision-making part of the brain. These detect when an ambulance or fire truck is coming and make sure that they have quick and safe passage.
  • Communication equipment: The mouth! Traffic signals communicate with each other through a copper wire system or fiber optic system similar to high speed internet systems.

All these parts work together to keep a signal operating reliably. Now you know what’s in the box!

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How Clearer Cameras Help Clear Streets

Constant innovation is central to our mission of building a more connected city, and SDOT’s Transportation Operations Center (TOC) is always looking for new ways technology can help. We use Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices to monitor traffic throughout the city, and then share information on incidents with the public through dynamic message signs (DMS), Twitter, and the Travelers Information Map (where you can see a live feed from cameras).

Over 40 traffic cameras, a key tool for confirming incidents, received a major upgrade in 2016 to give our TOC clearer video feeds and make identifying and reporting incidents easier. This improvement also helps first responders who monitor the feeds see what’s going on, plan ahead, and provide assistance more efficiently.


To better share this information with the public, we’ve also installed 6 additional dynamic message signs throughout the city to let motorists know of any ongoing issues and plan ahead.


At SDOT, we use the latest technological innovations to improve our ability to monitor, respond to, and share information about traffic incidents throughout Seattle. Our Intelligent Transportation Systems play a key role in creating a safe, efficient, innovative transportation system that works for all travelers, and we’ll be continuing to develop and upgrade systems next year in 2017. When people know what’s going on in real-time, they can make more informed travel choices.

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How We Decide Where to Install Traffic Signals

We have a new and improved process for deciding where to install new traffic signals.

We’re now using data on expected growth, crash history, costs for partnering with developers, and equity to prioritize the roughly 9,000 intersections throughout Seattle without signals.


Each year the top 10 intersections by these metrics are analyzed and prioritized, with an emphasis on crash history. We also check if the intersection meets federal standards for new signals. In many cases, a new traffic signal is not the best treatment for an intersection and a less costly treatment, such as a four-way stop or turn restriction, are more appropriate–especially in situations where traffic volume isn’t high.

In the past, we’ve installed new signals primarily after public feedback, generally one or two new signals per year. But, this process was costly to administer, difficult to prioritize, did not adequately consider crash history, and ignored intersections that weren’t publicly requested.

We’ll be applying the new process to both new signal installations and left turn improvements. We hope this new process will do a better job of adding signals at intersections where they can do the most good for the most number of people.


2017 will be a transition year between our existing prioritization process and our new process. With that said, the number of intersections to be analyzed is slightly higher than what will be analyzed in the coming years.  Below is a list of intersections to be analyzed for possible improvements:

Left Turns:
o Martin Luther King Jr Way S and S McClellan St
o 25th Ave NE and NE 75th St
o 6th Ave and James St
o Denny Way and Dexter Ave N
o 12th Ave S and S Weller St
o Boren Ave and Pike St
o 15th Ave NE and NE 50th St
o 23rd Ave E and E John St
o Martin Luther King Jr Way S and S Cloverdale St
o 2nd Ave and Denny Way

New Signals
o E Marginal Way S and S Alaska St
o 12th Ave S and S Main St
o 10th Ave S and S King St
o Aurora Ave N and N 128th St
o SW Holden St & Highland Park Way SW
o E Marginal Way S and S Dawson St
o 1st Ave NE and NE 105th St
o Aurora Ave N and N 97th St
o E Jefferson St and Terry Ave
o 12th Ave E and E Marion St
o 12th Ave E and E Spring St
o 20th Ave NW and Leary Way NW
For any questions please contact: traffic.signals@seattle.gov

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Transit Kiosks on 3rd Avenue Getting a Makeover

A crew of SDOT and King County Metro personnel have begun a refurbishing project on the 3rd Ave transit kiosks, swapping out 6 of the 10 kiosks along 3rd. This joint effort was needed to retrofit the kiosks with new equipment.

SDOT had 6 temporary kiosks that can be used in the interim until the kiosks can be repaired and placed back into the field. The 6 locations were 3rd Ave & Prefontaine (NB), 3rd Ave & Seneca St (NB & SB), Seneca St & 3rd Ave (EB) and 3rd Ave & Pike St (NB & SB).


Crews used a crane to pick up each kiosk and position them on the street.

The retrofit of the kiosks on 3rd includes new monitors that will perform better in outdoor conditions, and new computers to push the One Bus Away data to the kiosk. Utilizing off the shelf technology gives SDOT the ability to quickly replace malfunctioning hardware.


An SDOT electrician wiring the kiosk for power.

Upgrading the monitors from 32 inches to 42 inches will also provide more transit information than they did before.


Crews putting the final touches on a kiosk at 3rd Ave and Pike St.

The 3rd Ave kiosk retrofit project is expected to be completed in early 2017.

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What is the TOC?

The Transportation Operations Center (TOC) is the part of SDOT responsible for the general operation of the City’s street system. The TOC uses the latest technologies and resources to track and improve transportation throughout the city in real-time.

The TOC is SDOT's control center.

The TOC is SDOT’s control center.

We monitor live video cameras, traffic detectors, social media, 911 dispatch, and more for incidents which could impact Seattle’s complex transportation network.

When something happens, we update our Twitter (@SeattleDOT), our Travelers Information Map, and Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) mounted all over the city. We also dispatch our Maintenance Units to respond to incidents where they can clear a stalled vehicle or even provide fuel.

A dynamic messaging sign letting people know there's a game.

A dynamic messaging sign letting people know there’s a game.

Mel and Ed, two of our friendly neighborhood TOC operators.

Mel and Ed, two of our friendly neighborhood TOC operators.





There’s also a lot of coordination happening behind the scenes at the TOC. Whenever an incident occurs, we work with the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Department of Transportation, King County Metro, and other agencies in the region to help mitigate the impact as safely and quickly as possible.

Traffic is almost always a topic of commuters’ daily conversation, so our goal is to keep you as informed as possible. Follow @Seattledot on Twitter for the latest.



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New Bilingual Street Name Signs!

The next time you’re in the International District you may notice some new signs. Crews recently installed new bilingual street name signs in the Little Saigon neighborhood. The signs are in English and Vietnamese, in the same style as existing bilingual street name signs in the Japantown and Chinatown neighborhoods.


The new signs were installed at the request of the community and the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda). Community members worked to translate the English street names into Vietnamese, which maintain continuity with street name signs in Little Saigon communities across the US and in Vietnam.

Bonus:  they’ve been installed just in time for the Celebrate Little Saigon community event on Saturday, August 27th!


This work is part of the Little Saigon Placemaking project. It was done in conjunction with the Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD).

For more information about bilingual street name signs, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/new_streetsigns.htm.

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