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Keep up with your New Year’s Resolution and take the stairs!


Stairway located on S Lilac Street between Letitia and Rainier Avenue S.

Stairway located on S Lilac Street between Letitia and Rainier Avenue S.

Did you know that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is responsible for managing more than 500 stairways that can be found across the city? With the help of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy, SDOT has been making it easier to make the decision to use the stairs by keeping the stairways clear and useable!

Stairways are an important connection to Seattle’s neighborhoods, transit, schools, and businesses. Thanks to the BTG levy, SDOT has completed 33 stairway projects to date and hasseven more planned for 2014! Look for SDOT crews this year working on stairways at: N 43rd Street and Palatine Avenue N; S Spokane Street; E McGraw Street and 18th Avenue E; SW Thistle Street; and E Thomas Street and 25th Avenue E. Two more projects are in the planning stage and will be announced soon.

Recently completed stairway at Sixth Avenue W and W Mercer Street.

Recently completed stairway at Sixth Avenue W and W Mercer Street.

Seattle’s stairways not only help increases our pedestrian connections, but it’s also much more fun climbing real stairs than using a stair climber at the gym. As Spring and Summer kick off, be sure to get out there and explore some of the great stairways Seattle has to offer. Who knows, you may even discover a new neighborhood, park, or route to your favorite restaurant!If stairs aren’t your thing, check out the other great projects BTG has planned around Seattle.


Want to see even more parklets in Seattle? You’re in luck!


041412 New Parklet Map


A few weeks ago we posted our selection of ten new parklets for the 2014 Pilot Parklet Program, and now we’re excited to announce that we’re including three more locations! Equilibrium Fitness in West Seattle (3270 California Ave SW), Harbour Pointe Coffeehouse in Madison Valley (2818 E Madison St), and Chuck’s Hop Shop in the Central District (2001 E Union St) will join the pilot program and work with SDOT to open parklets in their neighborhoods this summer.

Parklets are intended to serve Seattle’s communities by activating streets, providing public gathering spaces, and promoting economic vitality. After learning new information from these three parklet hosts and hearing more community support for the parklets, we decided to reconsider their applications. We were impressed by the ideas that were presented for providing attractive, community-oriented public spaces and are pleased to have them join the program.

Expanding the Pilot Parklet Program to 13 new parklets will give us additional opportunities to evaluate these spaces in a variety of neighborhoods before making a recommendation on a permanent parklet program later this year.

Check out the Pilot Parklet Program website for more information and updates on Seattle’s parklets!


Burke-Gilman Trail Detour and Improvements Open House

Burke Gilman Trail detour map 041114Work has already begun on construction projects to improve the Burke-Gilman Trail and the surrounding areas, and more construction is on the way. This includes the Montlake Triangle and Rainier Vista, Maple and Terry halls, the new Sound Transit Link light rail stations and power upgrades by Seattle City Light.

Beginning this spring, University of Washington will close portions of the Burke-Gilman Trail between Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and Mason Road, just east of the Rainier Vista, to facilitate these projects and the construction of a new, wider Burke-Gilman Trail with separation for people who walk and people who ride bikes, dozens of new lights, more blue emergency phones, better trail intersections and ADA access, and improved sightlines. Construction on phases of these projects will begin at different times, but by Summer 2014 the full detour will be in place.

We want to help keep you safe and informed during this detour! Watching out for each other–whether walking, riding a bike, or driving a vehicle–is a shared responsibility. Take extra care during the construction. Look out for other road users and make eye contact or wave to others – the more awareness motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians have, the more we can better ensure everyone’s safety.

UW Transportation Services will have more information about the detour and improvements to the Burke-Gilman Trail at the Gould Hall Atrium on April 17, 2014 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. For questions or comments please send them to Brian Ho,


Once Around the Web: Newsy news time!

Happy Arbor Day Washington State!

city treesRESIZED

One man’s enthusiasm and love of trees literally grew into millions of the tall woody-trunked plants across the nation and to Arbor Day celebrations across our state today!

In the 1850’s J. Sterling Morton, a prominent Nebraska journalist and editor, planted the seeds for Arbor Day by advocating for the planting of trees in his articles and editorials. That effort eventually led to the nationwide celebration of Arbor Day.   Not only did he and his friends miss the trees of their former home of Detroit, but they quickly discovered the necessity of trees. They realized trees could provide much-needed wind breaks to prevent soil erosion, shade in the heat of the day and wood for fuel and building supplies, not to mention a respite from the harsh prairie environment.   Seattle’s City Arborist Nolan Rundquist, formerly a City Arborist from Nebraska, says even today cities throughout Nebraska and other Midwestern prairie states still maintain long rows of trees as wind shelters that were initially  planted during the tree planting movement started by Morton well over a century and a half ago.

In Seattle, Rundquist has led SDOT’s Urban Forestry section in its effort to preserve trees, and to restore the urban tree canopy throughout the city and most recently has spear-headed the adoption of the SDOT Tree Ordinance.  Urban Forestry has planted over 38,000 trees since the mid ‘70’s.  While trees do indeed provide shade and windbreaks and materials for fuel and building, today Seattle particularly values them for their role in purifying the air; absorbing rainfall thus preventing slides in our particularly hilly geography; serving as habitat for birds and small mammals; and equally important to all those benefits – the pleasing aesthetic value, the serenity, they bring to our built environment.

Seattle, in contrast to the State, celebrates Arbor Day in late October because, as Rundquist explains, the optimum time for planting in Seattle is the fall when trees get plenty of moisture during the rainy months allowing their root systems to become well established on through the winter and into Spring before the heat of the summer arrives.  This year, because Urban Forestry is working with a tight budget, all 500 trees to be planted will be in the ground by May 1.  Why now, rather than the fall? Purchasing the trees at this time of the year is far less costly – about a third of the price of trees in the fall.  Why you ask? The trees come bare root and are easy for nurseries to deliver without the bulk and weight of a tree rooted in soil.  In the fall, because trees are shipped in soil wrapped in burlap or planted in pots, they are much more costly to ship and thus cost the City escalates.   Rundquist says the biggest drawback to planting in spring is that the young trees will require a great deal of water to survive the warm summer months.  Nonetheless, our Urban Forestry experts have crunched the numbers for this year and planned to provide the water necessary to give the youngsters a good start in life in their new home ground!

To learn more about trees and all the services our Urban Forestry section provides, please visit our website at:  And you can also find answers to everything you ever wanted to know about trees on the following website: .


Seven bridges retrofitted to rock ‘n roll!

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) operates and maintains more than 149 bridges across the city.  Each bridge provides a key link between our neighborhoods and business districts and helps keep goods and services moving throughout the city.

Seismic work was recently completed on the Ballard Bridge.

Seismic work was recently completed on the Ballard Bridge.

Thanks to the voter approved Transportation Levy – Bridging the Gap (BTG) – SDOT’s Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program has making necessary upgrades to minimize movement of the City’s bridges in the event of an earthquake.  Work on seven bridges in north, central and south Seattle has been completed.  Bridges that have been seismically retrofitted include:

  • South Albro Place over Airport Way South Bridge
  • Fauntleroy Expressway Bridge
  • Ballard Bridge
  • King Street Station Bridge Group (Includes four total bridges)
    • 2nd Ave Extension S from S Jackson St to 4th Ave S
    • 4th Ave S from S Jackson St to Airport Way S
    • S Jackson St from 4th Ave S to 5th Ave S
    • Airport Way S from 4th Ave S to 5th Ave S

      The new jackets pictured  on the Ballard Bridge are steel sheaths that encompasses each column and provide reinforcement in the case of seismic activity.

      The new jackets pictured on the Ballard Bridge are steel sheaths that encompasses each column and provide reinforcement in the case of seismic activity.

The Ballard Bridge and the King Street Station Bridges were most recently completed.  SDOT met and exceeded its BTG goal by finishing these seven projects!  This was accomplished thanks to solid project management.  Keeping Seattle bridges safe and operating properly is crucial and major credit goes to BTG which has made it possible for SDOT to fulfill this top priority.  For information about BTG please visit the web page.


Got a great idea fort a Safe Routes to School project?

We’re now taking applications for Safe Routes to School mini-grant projects

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is now accepting applications for mini-grants of up to $1,000 to fund projects that educate students about pedestrian and bicycle safety and encourage walking and biking to school. Making the choice to walk and bike to school reduces pollution and congestion near schools and provides quality time for parents and kids to spend together. Programs funded by the SDOT mini-grant not only increase safety around schools, but also help kids learn earth-friendly ways of getting around their neighborhoods.

In a change from previous years, the mini grant program will now have two funding rounds each year: Fall and Spring. The new Spring funding round will provide funds to grantees in time for Fall school activities, such as the International Walk to School Month in October. Applicants are eligible to receive a grant once per year. Private and public schools, PTAs, neighborhood councils, local advocacy organizations, and other school-related 040714_ SRTS_Walking Bus_Photo4 2 RESIZEnonprofit groups may apply.

Mini-grants can fund a wide range of projects and programs at schools. The activities must support the overall goal of improving safety and encouraging more walking and bicycling to school, but otherwise, we are open to your creative ideas. Examples of past mini-grants have included helping schools and non-profits start student safety patrols; launching anti-idling campaigns; installing pedestrian crossing flags; developing and promoting school traffic circulation plans; hosting walk and bike to school month activities; leading walking school buses and bike trains; and educating kids on bike safety. The possibilities are nearly endless!

If you have an idea for a safety education or encouragement program, please visit our website for more information on how to apply for a mini-grant.  In addition to the application, a letter of support from the school principal must be e-mailed, mailed, or faxed by the application due date. For questions, contact Ashley Harris at Completed applications are due April 30, 2014 by 5pm and recipients will be announced by June 6, 2014. Funds will be distributed in July 2014.


Senior Safety: Tips for a Safe Walking Experience


Seattle is a major employment center and transit hub, one of the nation’s largest port cities, and a research and education center with unique neighborhoods and thriving business districts. More than 900,000 vehicles traverse Seattle’s streets daily including buses, freight, and passenger vehicles. These drivers share the road with the many thousands of cyclists and pedestrians that also use our streets every day. Seattle is a bustling city and there are simply more opportunities for conflicts on roadways that handle this amount of volume.

Seattle strives to be the most pedestrian-friendly city in the nation. Our Pedestrian Master Plan guides our approach to improving pedestrian conditions, and our Road Safety Action Plan identifies specific countermeasures that the city is currently implementing in an effort to eliminate fatalities and serious injury collisions on our streets. Unfortunately around 500 pedestrian collisions occur annually in our city, and pedestrian fatalities typically make up more than 40 percent of all traffic fatalities. Traffic data shows that between 2010 and 2013, one group of people was affected more than others - older pedestrians. In fact, 70 percent of individuals involved in the most serious pedestrian collisions in Seattle during the same timeframe were over 50 years old. Through a combination of engineering improvements, educational outreach, and increased enforcement patrols, Seattle is making efforts to keep our elders safe.

Walking is a great way to stay active and SDOT has put together some helpful tips to make your daily jaunt a safe and comfortable experience:

1. Be Seen. Seattle can be rather rainy and dark so visibililty plays a crucial role in staying safe. Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing to stand out.

2. Know Your Abilities. SDOT has installed pedestrian countdown signals at many intersections to help you understand how much time you have to cross the street. Know you walking speed and don’t start crossing when the ‘Don’t Walk’ symbol is flashing.

3. Scout Your Route. There are all sorts of hidden gems to discover in our city. Use our walking route maps to determine the best way to get from Point A to Point B.

4. Look, Smile, Wave. Make sure drivers see you before entering a crosswalk and continue looking out for vehicles while you’re crossing the street. Once you’ve crossed, a simple wave and smile can help reinforce goodwill on our streets.

5. Tell Us What Needs Fixing. Do our signals provide you with ample time to cross the street? Do your sidewalks need repair? If there’s something in your neighborhood that’s making it difficult to get around, let us know. Simply call 684-ROAD so can get working on it or report an issue online.



From Concrete to Soil, Cleaning Water the Natural Way

Linden project bioswale.

Linden Avenue N bioswale.

Forget the days of clunky concrete boxes along the street and say hello to lush planted areas! Not only do these planted areas beautify our communities, but they’re helping keep our environment clean, one drip at a time. Hidden within these planting strips are facilities called bioswales.

What is a bioswale, you may ask? A bioswale is a shallow vegetated ditch that is created to collect and convey stormwater runoff.  Stormwater runoff is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas. A bioswale’s vegetation and soil treat the stormwater by filtering out unnatural contaminants (like oil and and other sediments from the road). Bioswales also  allow rainwater to soak into the earth slowly instead of flooding streets.

Keeping our surroundings as clean as possible is a high priority for us; that’s why we’ve decided to use bioswales for many of our street improvement projects such as Linden Avenue North, completed last July.

Previously, concrete boxes were built along the street to hold stormwater before releasing it into a storm sewer. Now, with a natural retention area, the water will soak slowly into special bioretention soil that absorbs it, and the roots within the soil will naturally remove automobile and other pollutants before being released.

We believe that the continued use of these eco-friendly bioswales will improve our environment and create wonderful landscapes for our communities.


A Greener City; A Greener Belltown

A recent view of Blanchard Street in Belltown looking west to the waterfront.

A recent view of Blanchard Street in Belltown looking west to the waterfront.

Fresh tulips at the Pike Place Market and the moments when our famous Seattle grey sky gives way to the sunshine are clear signs that spring is here. It’s the time you are reminded to start  planning for that garden in your backyard;  but you know you first have to figure out the prep work for all the work that is to be done and supplies need to be gathered.

The “garden prep-work” is exactly where the minds of the staff are for the Waterfront program. Since the Office of the Waterfront program is currently moving along the schematic design from 30 percent to 60 percent, we are trying to map out where the team can make needed improvements to reinvent the public spaces along the Waterfront.

A greener Belltown might look like this.

IN the future, a greener Belltown might look like this.

One of our main goals is to improve local public and green spaces for everyone in Seattle to enjoy.  One example of this work will be the transformation of the Belltown corridor.  The team has been developing a distinct planting area, which will bring back a mixture of native plants to the Belltown spaces and tell the story of the region’s diverse ecosystem.

The Belltown planting is inspired by the Puget Sound bluff ecosystem and will try to capture similar topography as it cascades down to meet the shoreline. The plantings along this area will likely be deciduous tree species along the bluff slopes; conifers along the top of the bluff where the ground is more level; and various shrub species that are typically found in the Pacific Northwest understory.

You can check out more of the Waterfront program planting layouts here.