Calling All Scrabble and Open Space Enthusiasts!

In partnership with Groundswell NW and Ballard Greenways, SDOT is hosting a life-size street Scrabble tournament this upcoming Saturday, October 10th in Ballard. We hope to see you thereScrabble flexing your vocabulary knowledge and cheering on players. Similar to the Scrabble tournament event held on First Hill last summer, it is a guaranteed fun time for the whole family. With Scrabble at this scale, you might never go back to playing on a table again!

Event details:

  • Saturday, October 10, 2015
  • 4-6PM (right before the Ballard Art Walk)
  • Intersection of 17th Ave NW & NW Dock Place


Of those who sign up for the lottery, 16 participants will be selected to play and paired off into teams at the beginning of the event. Each round will be timed to 20 minutes, and a referee will ensure rules of the game are respected. The tournament has a single elimination format, so bring your game face and brush off your dictionary in preparation! To sign up for the lottery, please contact

Beyond having a good time with neighbors, this event will provide information about the forthcoming Pavement to Parks project in Ballard at the intersection of 17th Ave NW and NW Dock Place. The Pavement to Parks program creates community-driven public spaces and improves safety by repurposing underutilized street space. This event will be your opportunity to provide input on the future design of the intersection. You’ll be able to weigh in on some proposed mural designs submitted by local artists for the surface treatment of the space, as well as different possible configurations for the site. We want to hear your experience with how the intersection currently works and ideas of how it could be improved.

For additional information about this event or the Pavement to Parks program, please contact


Fall has Arrived and Winter is Just Around the Corner, Let’s All be Prepared

Fall has arrived and the sunny days are getting shorter as Winter is just around the corner. This is a great time to prepare by making sure that you have alternate commute plans in place such as which buses will operate during weather events, and if you have your snow kit in your vehicle if
measurable snow falls.

The National Weather Service has predicted an El Nino winter lasting through Spring, and UW Professor Cliff Mass recently blogged about it here. Though a warmer and drier winter is predicted, preparing for the unexpected is always a good plan.

snow cars (rs)

Here’s a Vehicle preparedness Checklist:

  • Warm clothes in trunk
  • Chains or other traction devices in trunk
  • Full gas tank
  • Sand/shovel in trunk
  • Window ice scraper
  • Flares, flashlight in trunk
  • Antifreeze
  • Family emergency plan
  • Familiarity with school and daycare plans
  • Alternative shelter plans
  • Alternative transportation arrangements
  • Identified snow routes
  • Bus timetables


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

Winter Storms – Here’s Our Plan

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


When Storms are Headed Our Way – We’re Preparing

We will plow major streets. These 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.

  • 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.

snow plows

Update: Public Input Period Extended through October 15th on Potential Changes to Ship Canal Bridges’ Opening Restrictions  

SDOT is extending the public input period through October 15th on potential changes to the Ship Canal Bridges and opening restrictions related to them. 

SDOT is seeking comment from the maritime community, and community members who drive, walk or bike, whether the City should seek US Coast Guard approval to change current rules on when Ship Canal bridges must be opened upon request. In addition, SDOT is interested in hearing what additional restrictions might be warranted, if any.

SDOT has received a high volume of public feedback and wants to extend the opportunity. Please visit this link to share your input:

open bridge

The City owns and operates the Ballard, Fremont, and University bridges, while the Washington State Department of Transportation owns and operates the Montlake Bridge. As the Ship Canal is defined by federal law as a navigable waterway, the US Coast Guard has regulatory authority over these bridges. A number of years ago the Coast Guard granted the City the authority to keep the bridges closed on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (The bridges must still be opened during these hours for large commercial vessels.)

SDOT Blog _Bridge 0pening RESIZED

While the number of bridge openings has remained fairly constant in recent years, the impacts of bridge openings have become more pronounced and problematic, especially with longer morning and afternoon commute periods.

With the average bridge opening lasting approximately five minutes, hundreds of vehicles can back up for a given rush hour opening. The more cars, trucks and buses that back up, the longer it takes for them to clear. Buses run behind schedule, commuters find that it takes longer to get to work or back home, and many delayed drivers leave their motors running, spewing polluting emissions into the atmosphere.

SDOT expects to petition the Coast Guard for a change in restrictions on when these bridges must be opened upon demand but is seeking public input before doing so. Interested citizens are asked to share their thoughts with SDOT about whether expanded restrictions are warranted, and what they might look like.

As the graph below illustrates for the Ballard Bridge from August 20th to 26th, 2014, the number of bridge openings is greatest at the same time vehicular traffic is heaviest. For example, during the period from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., there were 11 weekday bridge openings that week, or an average of two each day, and approximately 61 percent of Ballard Bridge openings that month were for sailboats.

During that same one hour period each day, some 2,600 vehicles crossed the bridge. This situation leads to backups that often extend as far south as Dravus Street and as far north as NW 65th Street. These delays take considerable time to clear, sometimes occurring just as the next opening is requested.

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.

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.




Seattle Streetcar – Center City Connector, Please Join Open House Discussions

SDOT is hosting two open houses to inform and engage the public on plans for the Seattle Streetcar – Center City Connector. The Center City Connector will complete the Seattle Streetcar system, linking over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods.

Please join the discussion the proposed design and constructing phasing options for the Center City Connector at two downtown open houses:


Tuesday, September 29th

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Bertha Knight Landes Room, Seattle City Hall

600 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98104

Wednesday, September 30th

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Bertha Knight Landes Room, Seattle City Hall

600 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98104

The City of Seattle is building a modern streetcar system that will provide new urban mobility options, support economic growth and strengthen connections among the places where people live, work and socialize. The Seattle City Council approved the alignment for the Center City Connector segment in 2014.  The project alignment features transit-only lanes and center stop platforms along First Avenue, between Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market, as well as a connection to the existing tracks on Westlake Avenue via Stewart Street and Olive Way.

The Center City Connector will link the South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar lines, creating a system that will connect over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods in Seattle’s Center City. By linking existing streetcar investments, the Connector will provide a streetcar system that is highly legible, easy-to-use for a variety of trip purposes, and that serves major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. The system is projected to over 20,000 average weekday riders.

The environmental process and final design will continue into 2016. Construction could begin as early as the fourth quarter of 2016, pending the results of the City’s efforts to secure funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program.

The Seattle Streetcar system is an important part of Seattle’s transportation system and will help to improve mobility and reduce traffic congestion in the city. Find out more about the Seattle Streetcar at and sign up to receive Streetcar news and updates.

Pedestrian Streets – Pike Street Pilot

Pike St Ped Pilot_yogaLast month, pedestrians on Capitol Hill got to experience Pike Street like never before. On August 8, 15, and 22, starting around 8:00 p.m., several blocks of Pike Street were temporarily closed to vehicle traffic and opened up to pedestrians as part of a Pike Street pilot program. The result was the creation of a temporary new community space that quickly engaged local residents and visitors. It wasn’t long before we saw people begin to move about the repurposed public space in every direction possible, from sidewalk to sidewalk, revealing new connections between places previously separated by vehicle traffic. During some of the closure times, on-street programming such as live music, dancing, and yoga classes was provided.

We had staff involved to gather opinions on site and see how the space was being utilized. There were varying opinions following the pilot, and we’re still evaluating which aspects were a hit, and which parts need some improvement – in order to do so, we’re asking for your help!

Did you experience any of the Pike Street closures last month? If so, we’d love for you to provide us with your feedback via the following online survey:

Survey button

How to Submit a Request to SDOT? Your Help Keeps Seattle Moving!

Maintaining a first-rate transportation system in our city requires community involvement. We appreciate the communities’ time and efforts when community members contact the city with information that helps SDOT keep Seattle moving. If you have a transportation-related concern or request, here are ways you can connect with us to let us know.

Seattle 9-15

What are road related things I can report to SDOT?

Using this form, you can report the following to SDOT online:

  • Pothole locations
  • Street sign and traffic signal maintenance (damaged and malfunctioning)
  • Damaged sidewalks
  • Overgrown vegetation in SDOT-maintained public right-of-ways
  • Sidewalk or street obstructions


For a catch-all reporting system, we check out our mobile phone app Find It, Fix It for reporting when you’re on the go. Find It, Fix It also allows one to report certain concerns like graffiti or parking enforcement issues to the Seattle Police Department, or reach other city departments such as Seattle Public Utilities.

What can I request from SDOT?

In addition to reporting, you can also request various services from SDOT, including:  

  • ADA technologies
  • Safe Routes to School improvements
  • Traffic calming evaluations

To request any of these or for general inquiries, please visit our Customer Request page here.

Not sure where to report?

If you aren’t sure where to file a report or request, we are also available via phone or email.

You can call SDOT at (206) 684-ROAD (7623) or send an email to

For additional SDOT contact information, please visit our directory here.

Thank you for helping keep Seattle safe and accessible for everyone!

Seattle PARK(ing) Day 2015 Recap

Dinosaurs, chickens, multi-modal adventure courses, and improvised community art projects are just a few of the unexpected things you might have seen popping up in parking lanes around Seattle this past Friday. Coinciding with the Seattle Design Festival, Friday September 18 was PARK(ing) Day, an international event in which people around the world work with their local municipalities to temporarily convert parking spaces into creative community spaces. As shown below, PARK(ing) Day not only brings residents together, it also allows them to explore the hidden potential of public spaces normally occupied by vehicles – and it seems to unleash some amazing creativity to boot!

With over 50 temporary parklets popping up in Seattle last week, this was Seattle’s biggest PARK(ing) Day yet. Here are a few of our favorite installations:

Local architecture firm ZGF encouraged passersby to add their artistic touch to this community-built “urban lego” sculpture:





















Kaffeeklatsch in Lake City gave us a little taste of country life:














Folks in the U District invited us into their “living room” for a cup of coffee:













SDOT even got in on the fun as we hosted our own pop-up parklet at 3rd and Pike, complete with a multi-modal adventure course, patio seating, landscaping, and a corn-toss game:




















Feeling inspired to host a PARK(ing) Day parklet of your own in 2016? Check out the SDOT PARK(ing) Day info page here. It’s never too early to start planning your contribution to Seattle’s public-space experience!


Noticed these around town? A guide to street colors

SDOT strives to make the roads safe for all travelers. To achieve this goal, SDOT is using roadway markings such as painted identifiers to encourage safer and more predictable travel.

These colorful street markings are meant to draw attention and promote visibility for all who use the roads, regardless of mode of transportation.

Roadway colors you may come across around the city:

Red bus lanes


These visible red “bus only” lanes are meant to provide additional cues to alert drivers that these are meant specifically for ‘transit use only’ and improve driver compliance for these bus lane restrictions. The goal of these lanes is to help make transit flow more smoothly, to help those who take transit get to where they’re going.

Green and white bike facilities

Green1 Green2

Green bike lanes and bike boxes designate a space where bicyclists can travel with general traffic in a more predictable, visible, and safer manner. The green pavement also indicates spaces in which bicycles and other traffic may cross paths. It alerts drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to be extra aware of each other. To learn more about bike facilities, please visit

Multicolored crosswalks


Multicolored crosswalks, like the rainbow crosswalks on Capitol Hill, are previously marked crosswalks that have been painted with unique colors and are meant to highlight a community’s culture and history or liven up an intersection crosswalk with a colorful design. This is a great way for our neighborhood communities to celebrate themselves in a creative and visual manner. For more about current crosswalks and how to request one, please visit:

Beige curb bulbs


Beige painted curb bulbs are meant to extend an existing curb and shorten the crossing distance in an intersection. The light color helps increase pedestrian visibility in locations including busy streets near schools where kids are traveling to and from.

For more information other ways we are making the roads safer for everyone, please visit our Vision Zero homepage at Please travel safely and be aware of others!

Happy Blue Friday, Today is PARK(ing) Day!!

Ready to play a game of mini-golf in the street? What about making Swedish flower crowns? It’s all happening today for PARK(ing) Day!

Seattle businesses and community groups will be installing over 50 temporary pop-up parks in on-street parking spaces today between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. These parks will feature all types of games and activities and are part of an international event that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of walkable, livable, and healthy cities.

PARKing Day is Here!!

PARKing Day is Here!!

Check out the map of pop-up parks on our website to plan your park visits! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter throughout the day (@seattledot and @parkingdaySEA) and use #SEAParkingDay for your own photos!

Thoughtful Thursday: Why is the sidewalk bumpy?

In your travels around the city, you may have noticed these at the bottom of curb ramps and other locations.



What are these bright yellow bumps? What purpose do they serve?

This textured surface, known as a detectable warning surface, consists of bumpy domes that physically alert blind or visually impaired pedestrians that they are about to enter the street. Detectable warning surfaces are well-recognized underfoot and with a cane, and also act as a secondary confirmation for pedestrians of their whereabouts when coupled with the sound of surging traffic, grade changes on sidewalks, and other methods to assist with wayfinding.



Detectable warning surfaces also visually contrast from adjacent surfaces to provide another layer of detectability for pedestrians with low vision. While the federal standards do not specify a color that must be used, the most widely used color in Washington is yellow, as it provides a high level of visibility.


Detectable Warning Surface at Transit Platform

In addition to curb ramps, street intersections, and medians, detectable warnings also pop up in some other specific locations, such as rail and transit platforms and at rail crossings, like in Pioneer Square Tunnel Station.

For more information, you can contact SDOT’s ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw at