Bridging the Gap Levy Dollars at work – 2015, part 2

Last week’s post focused more on the larger projects (bridges, paving, trees and the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Projects) supported by your transportation levy – BTG. This week we will look at the work plans for pedestrians, bikes and traffic management operations.

Since the BTG initiative was passed by Seattle voters in 2006, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has pulled together ambitious work plans each year and 2015 is no exception. SDOT crews will continue replacing guardrail and focus on replacing and repairing crash cushions at key roadway points across the city. Crews will also rehabilitate seven stairways and construct seven blocks of new sidewalk.

Bridging the Gap

More work to be completed in 2015:

  • SDOT will install 2,000 new regulatory signs and new street name signs will be installed at 1,250 intersections.


  • Crews will make 40 crossing improvements, complete eight Safe Routes to School projects, construct 200 new curb ramps and install pedestrian countdown signals at 25 intersections.


  • More than 520 centerline lane miles of arterial roadway will be restriped, 500 crosswalks will also be restriped and 60 miles of on-street bicycle facilities will be maintained.


  • SDOT will inspect 40 miles of trails and bikeways, install 25 miles of signed bicycle routes, install 12 miles of greenways and seven miles of bike lanes and sharrows and install 500 bicycle parking spaces across the city.


  • 50,000 transit service hours will be preserved, two transit corridors will be designed, and two will be constructed, while six priority bus corridors will see strategic spot improvements constructed.


Through the first six years of the levy, the city has delivered on the promises made by BTG. We have constructed more than 107 blocks of new sidewalk, installed more than 47,600 new regulatory signs, replaced street names signs at 11,137 intersections, improved walking routes more than 50 schools, remarked 5,240 crosswalks, installed 181 miles of bike route signage, striped 156 miles of bike lanes and sharrows, upgraded 16,000 linear-feet of guardrail and installed pedestrian countdown signals at 255 intersections. Each of these projects help residents of Seattle navigate the city a little easier and a little more safely.

For more information about BTG’s goals and progress on meeting those targets, please visit the BTG web page.

New Holman Road NW Ped Median Gets Elmed!

So maybe elmed is not a word, but certainly the new Holman Road NW pedestrian median can now claim the elm treatment. SDOT Urban Forestry crews planted nine elm hybrids along the roadway this past weekend and into today. The trees are the finishing touches to the Holman Road NW Arterial Paving Project that completed construction in December (with large tree pits awaiting trees).

Holman Road NW New Pedestrian Median, with completed tree pits December 2014

Holman Road NW New Pedestrian Median, with completed tree pits, December 2014

Holman Road NW New Pedestrian Median, with planted trees, January 2015

Holman Road NW New Pedestrian Median, with planted trees, January 2015








Despite the new trees being barely five or so years old, each one weighed 600 pounds with its root ball–bark babies requiring heavy equipment and traffic control to ensure safe planting.

SDOT Urban Forestry crews install new hybrid Dutch elm trees along Holman Road NW

SDOT Urban Forestry crews install new hybrid elm trees along Holman Road NW

Seven of the new trees were installed in the long median that flanks the pedestrian overpass at 13th Avenue NW and one tree was planted in each of the other two short medians.

The trees are the crowning top to the new pedestrian median near 13th Avenue NW, across from Crown Hill Park. In the fall the leaves will turn a vivid golden hue.


Photo of established hybrid elm; inset: fall color


The new median is just one of the many pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements brought by the Holman Road NW Arterial Paving Project.


Providing an alternative crossing is important at this location as the nearby NW 92nd Street is a greenway and a future Safe Routes to School pathway at Mary Avenue (Whitman Middle School is just around the corner).

Looking southbound at Holman Avenue near 13th Avenue NW, fall 2014

Looking southbound at Holman Avenue near 13th Avenue NW, fall 2014



Data shows cars slowdown in areas where there are street trees, making the neighborhood safer.


Yet another part of the Holman Project is discussion around removing the pedestrian bridge and replacing it with a pedestrian signal. That idea, which opens up the space for better sight lines, is still in need of funding.

Open House for 11th Avenue NW Student-Powered Project!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about the Shoreline Street Ends program preserving and improving public access to Seattle’s waterways?

Well, Monday night, January 26, you can offer your ideas and thoughts on a street end project led by University of Washington students!

In the unique partnership effort, graduate and undergraduate students in UW’s landscape architecture “Design/Build” program will conceptualize and construct the new 11th Avenue NW shoreline street end. They want to know what you’d like to see:

What: Open House for 11th Avenue NW Shoreline Street End partner project

Who: University of Washington students leading the charge!

When: January 26, 2015 from 6PM to 7:30PM

Where: Ballard Public Library, 5614 22nd Avenue NW


Hope to see you there!


Mercer Corridor Project – Maintaining Safety through the Corridor

Travelers who use the Mercer Corridor have much to look forward to as construction is expected to wrap-up later this year. As pavement is poured, lanes are added, sidewalks poured, bike lanes completed and signal timing adjusted, SDOT will maintain its commitment to safety to all those who work, live and travel in the corridor. Though traffic capacity is limited, the project opened two new westbound lanes between Ninth Ave N and Queen Anne Ave N last summer. This provides a much improved, direct route from I-5 to Seattle Center, Uptown and Queen Anne, and it also eliminates some of the challenges between turning vehicles and pedestrians.

Bicycle and Pedestrian route

Bicycle and Pedestrian route

Work in the past six months has focused on Mercer between Fifth Ave N and Ninth Ave N, and south along Fifth Ave N. Installation of new signals, sidewalks, and accessible ramps has required that traffic lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks be closed to protect pedestrians and others from construction activities. Pedestrians have had to cross the street at signalized intersections and sometimes travel two or three blocks out of their way to avoid the construction zones. This is inconvenient, but necessary to maintain safe, accessible connections during construction. Pedestrian maps highlighting closures and detour routes are posted on our project website as well as on sidewalks in the project area. Here’s a link:

Mercer St Pedestrian Detour map

Mercer St Pedestrian Detour map

As work progresses, more corners and crosswalks are opening up with improved ramps and sidewalks. All new sidewalks and curbs are constructed to meet the current Americans with Disabilities Act standards for mobility providing safe travels for all users in the corridor.

Work will continue near the intersection of Dexter Ave N and Mercer St where temporary configurations have been in place on both streets since July of last year. Temporary roadways were constructed so that crews could safely work on major utility relocations on both Mercer St and Dexter Ave N. Both roadways and corresponding curvatures drivers experience will be removed this year, starting with Mercer St the weekend of February 7.

Removing the bridge over Broad St at the intersection of Mercer St and Dexter Ave N

Removing the bridge over Broad St at the intersection of Mercer St and Dexter Ave N

During this weekend closure, crews will also stripe the eastbound lanes with their final markings. Pedestrians will also experience a noticeable change in their routing as the temporary roadways are removed. Following the February 7 weekend closure, pedestrians will be moved from the south side of Mercer St to new sidewalks on the north side of Mercer St between 5th Ave N and Dexter Ave N. The new separated bicycle path will be in place adjacent to the sidewalk, but crews will wait for drier weather to add channelization markings on the bike path.

Do You take Transit on Madison Street? Your input is greatly appreciated.

Do you take Transit on Madison Street? SDOT has a new online survey and is seeking input for the Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Study.

The Study is developing a concept design for BRT from Colman Dock to Martin Luther King Jr. Way and will examine two alternatives to evaluate travel-time savings, traffic impacts, ridership projections, and parking impacts in the coming months.


Route 12 Bus on Madison Street

The 2.1-mile corridor runs from Colman Dock east to 23rd Avenue and will improve access to ferries, Third Avenue transit, First Hill medical facilities and housing, Seattle University, the Central district, Link Light Rail, and the First Hill Streetcar.

Madison Street Cooridor Map

Madison Street Cooridor Map

SDOT is seeking input on key elements before this analysis begins, including transit connections, routing options, station locations, and an alternate bike facility.  After the analysis is complete, SDOT will launch a round of outreach to share the results and discuss community preferences about the design options. The last question of the survey is a map exercise; don’t forget to share your map. #MadisonBRT

The survey ends February 5th.  You can request paper copies of the survey directly from SDOT, by emailing or contacting Sara Walton at 206-386-4645.

For more information on the Madison BRT study, visit the project website.

Battery Drive System Impresses in First Tests of New Streetcars

The first performance tests of the new streetcars on order for the First Hill Streetcar line were completed in December. In addition to testing acceleration and braking, the performance tests featured off-wire operation powered by a rechargeable battery system, known as the On-Board Energy Storage System (OESS). When operating on the First Hill Streetcar line, the streetcars will be powered by the OESS on each inbound trip from Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square (2.5 miles). The batteries will be recharging whenever the streetcar is braking, and will also recharge on the outbound trip from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, while being powered from the overhead wires (known as the Overhead Contact System, or OCS).

Czech Streetcar Test

Street Car Battery drive testing in Czech Republic.

Street Car Map

Initial tests were performed on a test track at the factory where the first streetcar was completed in the Czech city of Ostrava. The streetcar operated off-wire for 3 miles, using 25% of the battery capacity of the OESS. Subsequent tests were performed on the Ostrava streetcar system. This allowed for uphill and downhill operation and simulation of traffic conditions that may be encountered in Seattle. During this testing, the streetcar operated on battery drive for distances as great as four miles and durations as long as 37 minutes. The testing also demonstrated that batteries recharge rapidly from regenerative braking and during operation on the OCS.

The test results indicate that the OESS will be more than adequate for the requirements of the First Hill line, and can also be used for significant segments of the planned Center City Connector streetcar extension.

Streetcar Battery drive testing in Czech Republic.

Streetcar Battery drive testing in Czech Republic.

The OESS was developed for the First Hill Streetcar to reduce overhead wire conflicts with the Metro trolley bus system. Several other cities plan to use battery drive to avoid overhead conflicts (such as bridge overpasses), save energy costs, or limit the visual impact of overhead contact systems. A similar system has been in use in Nice, France since 2007.

For more information, please follw link:

Bridging the Gap Transportation Levy Dollars at Work – 2015, part 1

In 2006, Seattle voters passed a nine-year levy program targeting transportation maintenance and improvement projects – Bridging the Gap (BTG). The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has worked hard every year to spend the levy dollars wisely and to hold to the promises made to voters. Once again in 2015, the work plan for the program sets aggressive goals and will push SDOT staff to be creative in their designs and delivery of projects.

One of the most visible programs of the BTG levy is the asphalt and concrete paving program; this year they will deliver 117 lane miles of new pavements along some of the city’s most traveled streets. Projects include paving work along Renton Avenue South – Phase I and along Roosevelt Way NE.


Bridging the Gap


Additional work to be completed in 2015:

  • SDOT will repair 25 blocks of sidewalk, rehabilitate seven stairways and make smaller repairs to 10 lane-miles of road through the Arterial Major Maintenance program.


  • Seattle’s bridges will continue to receive much needed repair work. Crews will make 253 repairs to Seattle’s bridges, while construction will begin on – Yesler Way over 4th Ave.


  • Construction will begin on the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvement Project – Phase 1


  • SDOT will plant 180 new street trees and prune more than 3,000 trees.


  • Ten Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) Large Projects will be constructed.


During the seven years of the levy, the city has delivered on the promises made by BTG. SDOT has paved more than 222 lane-miles of road, repaired 193 blocks of sidewalk, made 2,413 bridge repairs, rehabilitated 40 stairways, pruned more than 26,220 trees and planted 6,135 new street trees.

For more information about BTG’s goals and progress on meeting those targets, please visit the BTG web page.

Safety Improvements Coming to Lake City Way NE

2015 will be a year of change along one of northeast Seattle’s busiest arterial streets – Lake City Way NE. The Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project is a partnership between the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, WSDOT, the Washington State Patrol, residents, business owners and the City of Seattle. Together we have toured the corridor, poured over data, and developed a series of projects to enhance conditions. People who travel the corridor often have likely noticed some changes already.

Our partners in law enforcement have significantly increased patrols. Since the project launched last March, the Washington State Patrol and the Seattle Police Department regularly monitor the corridor looking to curb the behaviors that frequently lead to serious crashes on the corridor – failure to yield (to pedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles), distraction, following too close and speeding.

In addition, SDOT has implemented a number of changes to help people navigate Lake City Way safely. Last year, rapid flash beacons were installed for the two mid-block crossings north and south of NE 125th Street. Rapid flash beacons are an extremely effective warning for motorists that a pedestrian is in or is about to enter the crosswalk.


Near the end of 2014, new radar speed signs were installed on the approaches to NE 95th Street. Data tell us that speed-related crashes occur frequently in this area. The new signs provide drivers with a reminder to slow down.

Radar speed sign on northbound Lake City Way

Radar speed sign on northbound Lake City Way

Bigger projects are in the works for 2015. In the very near future, SDOT will break ground on much needed improvements at 24th Avenue NE and Lake City Way. Through this project we will repair pavement, construct significant stretches of new sidewalks, install a small median island, convert a pedestrian signal to a full traffic signal and provide a number of transit stop improvements. Construction is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015.


Conditions will change significantly at 24th and Lake City Way in 2015

Conditions will change significantly at 24th and Lake City Way in 2015

Another ambitious effort will transform the intersection of NE 110th Street and Lake City Way this summer. The transit stops  here are the primary location where Nathan Hale High School students catch the bus. To bring a higher level of safety to this site, SDOT will install bus bulbs, another small median island, new sidewalk and curb ramps as well as transit stop improvements. This project will significantly shorten the crossing of Lake City Way and drastically improve the pedestrian environment in this location that has seen a number of serious injury collisions over the years.

More work is planned along the corridor at 14th/15th Avenues NE, 20th NE, NE 125th Street, NE 130th Street, NE 135th Street and NE 145th Street but we’ll save the details for a future blog post. Stay tuned!


North Beacon Hill Neighbors: Thank you for your patience during construction!

Beacon Ave South new sidewalk

Beacon Ave South new sidewalk

SDOT is excited to announce that the project to build a new sidewalk on Beacon Avenue S between 14th Avenue S and S Holgate Street is nearly complete! Over the past three months, SDOT has been building pedestrian and roadway safety improvements in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood as part of the North Beacon Safety Connections Project.

A key part of this project is the new sidewalk on the northeast side of Beacon Avenue S, which helps improve the pedestrian connection between Beacon Hill and SODO. The work included building a new, continuous sidewalk, curb ramps and an uphill bike lane that connects the Mountains to Sound Trail to the North Beacon Hill business district.

Beacon Avenue South new stairway

Beacon Avenue South new stairway

In addition, we formally closed 13th Avenue S at Beacon Avenue S and built a new stairway. Until recently, 13th Avenue S was closed at Beacon Avenue S by way of barricades but with the completion of this project, 13th Avenue S is now a dead end street with sidewalks and space for landscaping. Several components remain to be completed in the next few weeks, including landscaping, roadway markings and handrails for the new stairway.

The North Beacon Safety Connections Project also includes work that is underway at Beacon Avenue S and 14th Avenue S as well as at S College Street and 14th Avenue S to construct additional pedestrian safety improvements. The remainder of this project is expected to be complete in mid-February. To learn more, visit the project webpage at

We would like to thank the community for their patience as we worked to complete this project and help make it safer and easier for kids, neighbors and families to walk and bike in your neighborhood.