Share Your Thoughts on Transportation Improvements in Ballard

Ballard has become one of Seattle’s most popular and fastest-growing neighborhoods. Featuring great places to live, shop and play, it is also home to many maritime and industrial jobs. As the neighborhood grows, it is important to identify and prioritize ways to make it easier to walk, bike and ride transit so that people and goods can keep moving. On Monday, May 2, we’re hosting a public meeting at Pacific Crest School, 600 NW Bright St, from 6 to 7:30PM get input on a series of transportation improvements with this objective in mind.

In 2014, we gathered input on how to make 17th Ave NW safer and more comfortable for people walking and biking, and constructed a neighborhood greenway in 2015. At that time, we promised to consider how to connect the greenway to the protected bike lane on NW 45th Street and ultimately, the Burke-Gilman Trail. Since 2014, a bus-only lane on 15th Ave NW between Leary and Market was proposed to help keep RapidRide reliable. The project included a traffic signal at NW 53rd St. We’d like to take advantage of the future signal to connect 17th Ave NW via a neighborhood greenway to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

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It is important that we hear from the community as the greenway route develops. The block of NW 53rd St between 15th and 14th Ave NW has a lot of industrial characteristics, including a high number of truck deliveries by large trucks. Magazines are distributed around the city to mom and pop stores from this location; fire equipment dispersed; automobile oils and other products developed; and aircraft interiors produced.

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Furthermore, as housing is being built and people move into Ballard, the lack of controlled crossings along 15th Ave NW has become apparent. People in the community are telling us that there are many destinations in East Ballard they would like to walk and bike to, including: Gilman Playground, craft breweries, preschools, gyms and businesses where they work and shop.

Right now, people walking and biking must head to Leary or Market to cross 15th Ave NW using a traffic signal. This can lead to unpredictable behaviors, like jaywalking. The addition of a new crossing on 15th Ave NW and an east-west neighborhood greenway can go a long way in meeting our Vision Zero goal of zero traffic-fatalities and series injuries while connecting neighborhood destinations.

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We hope to see you at our Monday meeting. If you are unable to attend, meeting materials and comment sheets will be posted on our web page.

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Getting Seattle Streets Ready for Summer

The Maintenance Operations Division of SDOT is responsible for keeping street pavement clean and in good repair. Part of that job involves microsurfacing selected residential streets each summer, to seal out water and sun to extend the life of the pavement.

Similar to painting a house, microsurfacing applies a thin protective layer to the surface which helps keep the material underneath in good shape.  However, for this preventive maintenance to be effective, the material you’re protecting must already be in good shape, unlike the streets shown below.

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Preparation of the surface, such as identifying holes or structural damage that needs to be repaired before you paint, is necessary for a successful job.

This spring, SDOT paving crews are making spot repairs to streets that have damaged spots in South Beacon Hill, Lake City/Meadowbrook and Lake City/Matthews Beach.  Our crews are preparing these streets for microsurfacing by filling potholes, repairing eroded street edges and replacing damaged sections of pavement.

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A city street before and after microsurfacing – quite a difference!

In addition, SDOT is working with property owners to trim back tree branches hanging over the street that would block microsurfacing equipment and other vehicles.  When this prep work is complete, these streets will be ready for microsurfacing this summer.

See a short video on microsurfacing here.

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2016 Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Are In!

The City’s Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) supports communities by providing funding for transportation projects identified by the community.  The 2016 NSF applications are in! 140 applications came in from across the city for all types of projects from new sidewalks to festival streets. Compared to the last round in 2013, this is a 63% increase in applications! By neighborhood (some applications included more than one neighborhood) the numbers are:

District Council Applications Received
Ballard 10
Central Area 6
Delridge 16
Downtown 13
East 15
Greater Duwamish 8
Lake Union 7
Magnolia / Queen Anne 8
North 12
Northeast 11
Northwest 16
Southeast 22
Southwest 6

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Boundaries of Seattle’s 13 Neighborhood District Councils

The NSF program is supported by the Levy to Move Seattle approved by voters in 2015. The 9-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city. The levy provides $24 million over the next 9 years to select, design, and construct neighborhood projects identified by the community.

Curious what projects are being considered in your neighborhood?

In May each Neighborhood District Council will review the projects in its boundaries and choose five projects to move forward into the conceptual design phase. You can see a map of each district council here (http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/neighborhood-districts) and find your neighborhood’s District Coordinator here (http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/programs-and-services/neighborhood-district-coordinators). If you’re are interested in learning more about the applications, consider attending your district council’s May meeting.

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One NSF project built a new sidewalk extension and planting area on Maynard Ave S in the International District

What Next?

After each Neighborhood District Council chooses 5 projects they will forward these picks to SDOT for evaluation and refinement.  This summer SDOT will develop a cost estimate and conceptual design, working with applicants as needed to refine the project or find alternative solutions. With this new information each district council will rank the 5 projects and send them to the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee. The committee evaluates the projects and makes recommendations to the Mayor and City Council who select the projects that will receive NSF funding. From there, projects will be designed in 2017 and constructed in 2018.

Learn More About:

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How You Can Help Encourage Safe Routes to School

With our recent completion of the Beacon Hill Trail, the first Safe Routes to School (SRTS) project in that neighborhood in 2016, SDOT provided a safe off-street option for kids walking and biking to school.

Now, SDOT is offering free incentives to help you encourage more kids to walk and bike to school in your neighborhood.

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These fun, free incentives include stickers, temporary tattoos, wrist bands, and hand stamps to give out during your campaign. Public and private schools and PTA’s within Seattle city limits are all welcome to request packages.

Incentives

Schools and PTA groups can request a free incentive package by visiting our incentives page and filling out an order form. Or you can stop by Feet First, Monday through Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to pick up an order in person.

049044Incentive packages include:

  • Option A: An assortment of stickers, temporary tattoos, wrist bands, and hand stamps
  • Option B: 1,000 stickers
  • Option C: 1,000 temporary tattoos
  • Option D: 2 hand stamps
  • Option E: 1,000 wrist bands

Haven’t started a walk and bike to school campaign at your school yet? Not a problem. For more information on how to start one, refer to our Safe Routes to School Campaign guide.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the project coordinator, Ashley Rhead at Ashley.Rhead@seattle.gov.

Added bonus: these free incentives for your Safe Routes to School campaigns come just in time for Bike Month coming up in May!

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Improving Seattle One Street End at a Time

Seattle is surrounded by water – Lake Washington, Lake Union, Puget Sound, and other waterways – resulting in more than 200 miles of magnificent shoreline.

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That much shoreline also means that 149 public streets in Seattle end on waterfronts.  These “shoreline street ends” are precious community assets that should be preserved for public use – that’s where SDOT’S Shoreline Street Ends program comes in.

Our latest project began in late 2015, when community members approached the City of Seattle hoping to organize a cleanup and restoration of the E Highland shoreline street end in Madison Park. The result has been an ongoing collaboration between community members, our Shoreline Street Ends program, Seattle Public Utilities’ Tree Ambassador program, and SDOT Urban Forestry – and the results have been amazing!

As you can see in the before-and-after photos below, their work has truly transformed the space.

Highland SSE before after

So far, volunteers have held two official work parties, one in February and one in March, and with 21 volunteers on hand at the first party, and 28 at the next, the volunteers have accomplished quite an impressive amount.  In roughly six hours of worktime they have managed to, among other improvements, remove 15 cubic yards of weeds and invasive plants such as Himalayan blackberry and English ivy, spread 10 cubic yards of mulch for weed suppression and erosion control, and recover seven full trash bags of garbage from the site!

Highland work party

Additional  improvements are coming soon, and a third work party is scheduled for May 8th at which volunteers plan to finish blackberry removal and spread additional mulch. You can expect more updates to be posted here as this exciting project progresses.

Interested in helping improve this street end or one in your neighborhood? Please contact Diane Walsh at Diane.Walsh@seattle.gov.

Would you like to learn more about the Tree Ambassador volunteer program? Please feel free to email the program organizers at treeambassador@seattle.gov.

 

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Behind the Scenes with a SDOT Bridge Operator

Recently, a SDOT Bridge Operator, Barbara Abelhauser was featured on NPR in a segment of StoryCorps on Morning Edition. In the story, Barbara says when she first took first bridge operator job, she thought she’d only stay for a year – but ended up staying for 8 years on the job in Jacksonville, Florida. Then in 2014, Barbara moved to Seattle and joined SDOT – and has been operating the University Bridge ever since.

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Barbara Abelhauser

When asked what her favorite part about being a bridge operator is, Barbara said, “I love this job now more than ever. All the Bridge Operators in SDOT are very professional and a delight to work with. I was very honored to be featured on Morning Edition. I’m also excited to be in the upcoming anthology, because I really do love my job and I’m proud of what I do.”

University Bridge

The new anthology is Callingsa StoryCorps book that explores the lives of those who love what they do.

SDOT operates and maintains over 149 bridges throughout Seattle, including four movable bridges. Three of SDOT’s movable bridges are draw bridges, known as bascule bridges. These are the Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge and University Bridge. The fourth movable bridge is the Spokane Street Bridge, which is a swing bridge. Here’s our Bridges and Roadway Structures main page.

Here are some cool facts about the University Bridge:

The University Bridge spans Portage Bay, linking the University District with the Eastlake and Capitol Hill communities. It is the second of the four Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridges. The University Bridge was originally built in 1919 and remodeled in 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the bridge on April 7, 1933. On that opening day, 37,794 automobiles crossed the bridge. The addition of the I-5 bridge has decreased traffic over the University Bridge in recent years. A 1983 traffic count recorded 27,735 vehicles using the bridge daily.

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New Safe Routes to School Beacon Hill Trail is Finished

After breaking ground in January with SDOT Director Scott Kubly and Mayor Ed Murray, SDOT crews have completed a new 2000-foot paved trail on Beacon Hill that gives schoolchildren a safer place to walk and bike, while traveling to and from Mercer Middle School.

The new trail is part of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) project, a national movement to make it easier and safer for students to walk and bike to school. This the first 2016 Safe Routes to Schools project in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

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The new paved trail runs parallel to Jefferson Park and connects 16th Ave South at South Spokane Street to the north and South Dakota Street.

Benefits of the new trail:

  • Improves safety on walking and biking route to school
  • Offers a more comfortable, off-street option for people biking and walking to school
  • Provides safety education so kids have the skills they need to safely walk and bike to school
  • Encourages more kids to walk and bike to school, which will reduce congestion at the school
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Trail improvements included replacing the existing gravel path and planting vegetation.

Locally, the Mercer Middle School Safe Routes to School Program is a partnership between SDOT, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks Department. The project also includes education and encouragement programs to get more kids walking and biking safely to school.

The Mercer Middle School program is one of four SRTS projects in Seattle Public Schools this year that also include: Greenwood Elementary, Wedgwood Elementary, and South Shore PK-8.

 

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Pike Street Pedestrian Pilot Update

DSCF4573In August 2015, SDOT’s Street Use Division collaborated with the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED), Seattle Police Department (SPD), Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, and Capitol Hill Eco District to pilot a series of temporary, pedestrian-only closures of Pike Street on Capitol Hill. The closures, aimed at making the streets more vibrant and ped-friendly, were held on three consecutive Saturday nights between Broadway and 12th Ave. In addition to making the streets pedestrian-only for a few hours, on-street programming such as live music, yoga classes, and dancing was also provided.

Yoga class on Pike Street

Yoga class on Pike Street

To help us determine whether the closures were successful, and to gauge whether they should occur again in the future, we conducted a rigorous study that included pedestrian counts, interviews and surveys, and site observations. The results of our study have now been analyzed and some of the major findings include:

    • 25,000-30,000 people walked through the closure area on an average night
    • Sidewalk locations that are normally pedestrian chokepoints saw significantly decreased congestion during the closure nights
    • 82% of visitors to the closure area were from Seattle, 86% didn’t drive alone, and 72% went to multiple locations or participated in multiple activities throughout the night
    • ​In post-pilot surveys, 66% of all respondents said that they’d like to see future closures

If you would like to read our full report of findings and recommendations, please view our newly released Pike St. Pedestrian Pilots Data and Recommendation Report.

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SDOT and OED will be also be hosting community workshops in Spring 2016 to discuss the results from our pilot study, and to explore options for future programming. The exact times and locations will be announced shortly – so please stay tuned!

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Levy to Move Seattle: Before and After Safety Improvement

In the first 100 days of 2016, SDOT has completed more than three dozen safety, maintenance and repair, and congestion relief projects, all funded by the $930 million Levy to Move Seattle.

The completed projects include new bike parking spaces, transit improvements for a Rapid Ride line and repairs to two pedestrian stairways. Photos of the stairway rehabilitation project at South Park at 12th Ave S and S Trenton St highlight just one of the many transportation improvements being made around the city.

Move Seattle BeforeAfter Stairway

Pedestrian stairway project at 12th Ave S and S Trenton St. The photo on the left was taken last July. The photo on the right was taken April 6, 2016.

The levy was approved by voters in November 2015 and provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for our growing city.

See a list of completed projects using Levy to Move Seattle dollars here.

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SDOT Hosts North Seattle Walking Tour With Newly-Elected Councilmember Debora Juarez

SDOT recently led a tour of several Council District 5 transportation projects with newly-elected Councilmember Debora Juarez. The purpose of the trip was to familiarize Councilmember Juarez with a selection of SDOT projects and to learn about her priorities for the district.

The tour started along the recently-completed Olympic Hills / 27th Ave NE Neighborhood Greenway. Greenways improve safety for all ages and abilities by reducing speeds on neighborhood streets to make it more comfortable for people walking to share the street with people driving. The tour continued to the Olympic Hills Safe Routes to School project. In 2015, the program installed a new sidewalk on NE 130th St on the walking route to Olympic Hills Elementary. The voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle allows us to build 9 -12 Safe Routes to School projects every year, helping more kids and families safely walk and bike to school.

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Councilmember Juarez discusses sidewalk options with SDOT’s Safe Routes to Schools coordinator, Brian Dougherty.

Next, the SDOT tour took Councilmember Juarez to a site near John Rogers Elementary, where a new sidewalk was built using stamped asphalt instead of concrete – resulting in significant cost savings that allow us to build more sidewalks where they’re needed most. With funds from the Levy to Move Seattle, SDOT plans to build 250 blocks of new sidewalks over the next 9 years – both lower-cost and traditional – for the same price as 150 blocks of concrete sidewalks.

After walking the sidewalk and discussing drainage issues in many North Seattle neighborhoods, the tour stopped at the site of the future Link light rail station at Northgate. SDOT plans to build a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 to improve connections within the Northgate community. The stop was near Councilmember Juarez’s district office at North Seattle College.

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Councilmember Juarez with SDOT’s Amanda Tse and Bill LeBorde, point to the future site of the Northgate pedestrian bridge over I-5

The tour wrapped with several stops along Linden Ave N to look at and discuss the Complete Street project completed in 2014. The project makes this neighborhood street easier and safer for everyone to get around, whether they are driving, walking, or riding a bike. The project also built a safe connection to the popular Interurban Trail making it more accessible for everyone, especially residents in the many senior retirement homes nearby.

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Councilmember Juarez going over a Complete Streets plan with Deputy Director Mike Terrell and Connie Zimmerman.

The morning tour offered SDOT staff and Councilmember Juarez a chance to talk about emerging transportation issues facing District 5 and the unique needs of neighborhoods in North Seattle.

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