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Safely Painting the Fremont Bridge

Every 10-15 years the steel structure of the Fremont Bridge gets repainted to preserve the steel structure from the elements. This is no simple undertaking as the bascule bridge not only has lots of nooks and crannies to clean and prep and prime and paint, but the vast majority of the structure has to rotate from a horizontal position to a steeply inclined one to allow marine traffic to pass underneath.

Imagine painting the underside of your car with someone jacking the back end ten feet off the ground every so often. Now imagine you aren’t laying on the ground but hanging from the car. Now imagine the car is about 30’ over the water. You might be more than a little concerned about safety. Now imagine it isn’t your car, but somebody else’s, and it isn’t a car, but a vital roadway with thousands of people crossing it every day in cars, buses, bikes and on foot. You need to paint where they travel, and above where they travel, so you worry about their safety too. And you need to interfere with their travel as little as possible.

The underside of the Fremont Bridge

One of the many sides of the Fremont Bridge that needs painting.

But now the tricky part. You can’t drop anything. Not tools, rust, paint flakes or drops of paint. Not onto the trail or roadway or parking lots below, not onto the passing boats and definitely not into the water. Safety is for the fish, as well as the folks, in Fremont.

Preparations are underway to make all this possible even as we speak. Our contractor plans to begin closure of the northbound curbside lane weekdays, between 7 AM and 3 PM, the week of August 11. The adjacent (east side) walkway will also be closed during these hours to bicycle riders and pedestrians – which means the other walkway will be more congested with two-way traffic than usual.

As the painters move, so will the lane (and adjacent walkway) closures. Please email art.brochet@seattle.gov to get on an email list for advance notice of the changes. The project is expected to be complete late this year.

There will also be some wee morning hour weekend closures to all traffic across the bridge in September; 3 AM – 6 AM Saturday mornings and midnight – 6 AM Sunday, though probably not more than two weekends.

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Once Around the Web: Highway Funding Crash Course

Step 1: Watch this White House white board video starring Joe Biden


White House White Board: Vice President Biden on Rebuild America

Step 2: Pick your 10 favorites from these links and read them. Talk to your friends and loved ones about these issues.

Step 3: Watch this video


Shabby Road: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

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Complete Streets: Providing Safe Streets for all Users

“Complete Streets” is an approach to planning, designing, and operating streets so that they provide safe, convenient and comfortable travel for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit riders, and freight. Complete Streets improvements can include safety-enhancing elements such as providing new and/or wider sidewalks, improved pedestrian crossing treatments, enhanced landscaping(including street trees or other landscaping between the sidewalk and the roadway), enhanced lighting, marked in-street or protected bike lanes, improved intersection design, traffic-calming measures, and improved accessibility for disabled travelers. Complete Streets safety improvements can help make streets safer for everyone by reducing vehicle crashes and providing safe facilities for walking and bicycling for people of all ages and abilities.

The City Council adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2007. Complete Streets is the lens through which SDOT approaches all new major transportation projects. One of our most recent Complete Streets projects is on 23rd Avenue East, a principal arterial connecting a variety of users to businesses, educational institutions and residences in the Central District and beyond, and serving high volumes of pedestrians, bike riders, and transit users. Given concerns about the poor pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities along the corridor, SDOT expanded its original plan to repave the roadway to include Complete Streets safety and accessibility improvements within the project’s scope.

The proposed roadway redesign for the segment between E John St. and Rainier Ave. S will reduce the roadway from four vehicular lanes to two through-lanes and a center turning lane, thereby allowing vehicles to turn without blocking traffic and managing drivers cutting in and out of lanes, reducing collisions and speeding, creating space for wider sidewalks, and making streets easier to cross for pedestrians. The project is also evaluating routes for a parallel greenway to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in the area by providing a safe north/south route through the area. The intended result is a safer roadway for all users.

Phase 1 construction (between E John St. and S Jackson St.) begins in late 2014/early 2015, with construction between S Jackson St. and Rainier Ave. S, and between E Roanoke St. and E John St. beginning in late 2015. More information on the project can be found at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/23rd_ave.htm

23rd Ave E: Existing Cross Section

23rd Ave E: Existing Cross Section23rd Ave E: New Cross Section

23rd Ave E: New Cross Section

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Neighborhood Greenways Seeing High Ridership

The City of Seattle is continuing to expand its bicycle network to make cycling more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities, and neighborhood greenways play a key role in helping us get there. Over the past year, we have seen some very positive increases in ridership on a number of our recently built greenways.

58th Street NW Bicycle Counts

Along the 58th Street NW Greenway in Ballard, the average weekday volume in 2013 was 64 cyclists. In 2014, that number increased to 579 per weekday, with an average peak ridership of 49 cyclists per hour at 6 p.m. These counts were taken in March and April of both years.

Bikes Counts from 58th Street NW

Bikes Counts from 58th Street NW

26th Avenue SW Bicycle Counts

Along the 26th Ave SW Greenway in Delridge, the average weekday volume in 2013 was 86 cyclists. In 2014, that number increased to 632 per weekday, with an average peak ridership of 90 cyclists per hour at 5 p.m. These counts were taken in May of both years.

Bike Counts from 26th Avenue SW

Bike Counts from 26th Avenue SW

This increase in cyclists using greenways is significant and shows that people are using these safer, calm residential streets as an alternative to busier arterials with high automobile volumes. In addition to being a great place for cyclists, neighborhood greenways are designed for pedestrians too!

If you haven’t used a neighborhood greenway to walk or bike to restaurants, cafes, and other spots in your neighborhood, give it a try and let us know what your experience is like.

To learn more about greenways, where we’ve built them, and where we’re planning to build more, check out our neighborhood greenways page.

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Summer Work to Make the Boren School Building Safer this Fall

It may be summer but SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program doesn’t take a break! On July 8, SDOT hosted a meeting to discuss school traffic safety at the Boren School building in the Delridge neighborhood. The goal of the meeting was to develop a traffic circulation plan to be used by two school programs that will share the building this September – K-5 STEM and Arbor Heights, which is using the building as an interim site while a new Arbor Heights School is being built.

Louisa Boren Junior High School opened in September 1963, serving West Seattle families until 1981 when the school was closed due to the shrinking school population. The building has recently reopened to serve elementary students and there are some challenges using an old middle school to serve a younger population. For one, the school is located on Delridge Way SW, a principal arterial with nearly 20,000 vehicles per day passing by.

The new flashing school beacon installed by SDOT this year near the Boren School.

A flashing school beacon installed by SDOT this year near the Boren School building.

To improve safety, earlier this year SDOT installed 20 m.p.h. flashing lights to emphasize slow driving while kids are arriving and departing. Still, traffic concerns persisted so SDOT brought together representatives of Seattle Public Schools, the school principals, parents and Feet First to adopt a traffic plan to be used by both schools and communicated to families before the first day of school this September.

The group agreed on a plan that will reduce the number of kids crossing busy Delridge Way SW, share the school parking lot between the two schools, provide more space for short-term parking near the school, and encourage park-and-walk at afternoon dismissal. Parents and school communities also expressed strong desires for more crosswalks, enforcement of the school speed zone, and additional traffic calming measures on the streets around the school.

SDOT will continue to work with the schools to communicate the new traffic plan to parents, evaluate how the plan is working, and make adjustments if needed. If you have concerns about school traffic safety in your neighborhood, we would like to work with you to make it safer. Contact SDOT’s Safe Routes to School coordinator, Brian Dougherty at brian.dougherty@seattle.gov or call 206-684-5124.

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When emergencies strike, help is on the way

Lawrence Eichhorn, SDOT's Emergency Management Manager and Rodney Maxie, SDOT's Safety Manager, were two SDOT employees who volunteered to help at the OSO landslide this spring.

Lawrence Eichhorn, SDOT’s Emergency Management Manager and Rodney Maxie, SDOT’s Safety Manager, were two SDOT employees who volunteered to help at the OSO landslide this spring.

Our hearts go out to the many people around the nation who have lost their loved ones or their homes as a result of a natural disaster or other major emergency–whether by fire, flood, winter storm, landslide, or some other event. These tremendous losses are a reminder that we need to plan ahead and do all we can to prepare for when an emergency strikes our city.

When there is an emergency in Seattle, the Seattle Department of Transportation responds to keep key arterial routes open. SDOT inspects streets and bridges, clears away debris, and works to remove hazards from streets. The department also issues permits authorizing others to work in street areas, and sends out critical transportation information to the public.

Agencies from around the region sent volunteers to help with the Oso landslide.

Agencies from around the region sent volunteers to help with the Oso landslide.

When other communities call on Seattle for assistance, City of Seattle employees volunteer to help. Employees from many different city departments volunteered for the Oso landfill response in Arlington, Washington this spring, including nine SDOT employees. In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, this work provides hands-on practice making us more prepared for responding to a disaster in our own city. Also, it is a comfort to know that if Seattle experiences a major disaster, other communities will come to our aid.

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Meetings Set for SW Roxbury Street Road Safety Project

ScreenHunter_21 Jul. 18 10.34Residents living in the vicinty of SW Roxbury Street will receive the postcard pictured above next week inviting them to Design Alternatives Review meeting for this road safety corridor project. Launched in response to community concerns, SDOT has conducted extensive public outreach and we’ve developed several different engineering options to improve safety for all modes on Roxbury. Join us to review and to provide feedback into these options.

Here are the details:

Thursday, July 31, 6 PM to 7:45 PM, Southwest Library Second Floor Meeting Room, 9010 35th Avenue SW

Monday, August 4, 6 PM to 7:45 PM, YWCA Greenbridge Center, 9720 8th Avenue SW

The input you provide will help shape the direction of our engineering work. Be sure to check out the excellent data about the corridor on our website prior to the meetings to familiarize yourself with the issues.

And to see what we’ve done on other road safety corridors, follow these links:

NE 75th Street Road Safety Corridor

Lake City Way Traffic Safety Corridor

SDOT Safety Programs

 

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More Cyclists Using the Broadway Protected Bike Lane Each Day

071714_girl on bike_2013-10-27-21.00.22

Whether it is the summer weather, bike riders becoming familiar with its presence, or a combination of the two, ridership on the two-way Broadway Protected Bike Lane (PBL) is growing at an encouraging pace.

The first protected bike lane in the central city seeks to separate bicycle traffic from vehicular traffic and runs for 1.2 miles along the east side of Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler. A new road surface, bike friendly drainage grates, and painted green bike lanes enhance bicycle safety and mobility. The PBL opened to bicyclists in early May, although a short four-block section (Denny to Union) opened last October.

SDOT started counting the number of cyclists using the PBL in January, when its weekday average use was only 270 bicycles, no doubt a reflection of winter weather and that only a short segment had been opened at that point. By May, when its full length was open, the weekday average had grown to 464 bicycles, and then in June the figure shot up to 562. (The highest single day count was 660 bicycles on Monday, June 30.) The count, tabulated by the hour, shows that the heaviest use occurs during the afternoon commute (5PM-6PM), which is also seen at the other bike counters around the city.  The Fremont Bridge is a long established and heavily used bike route, which is demonstrated by its count of an astounding 4,000 daily bicycle trips on an average summer weekday.

The City has not established any ridership targets for the Broadway PBL, although the count will help to evaluate the biking goals listed in the Seattle Master Bike Plan.

The PBL was included with the construction of the First Hill Streetcar at the request of the Capitol Hill community. When opened for passenger service this coming fall, it will operate along a 2.5 route from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, with ten stations and six streetcars. Service will run at 10 minutes intervals during peak hours (Monday through Friday, 6-9 AM and 3-6 PM), 12 minutes midday and on Saturdays, and approximately 15 minutes at other times.

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How to replace a bridge in four days

Eric O'B PANO-SR99 at Broad St-2014_07_09_FULL-SIZE

(Click photo for larger version)

In August, crews working on the North Access contract near the SR 99 tunnel’s north portal will replace the bridge on SR 99 over Broad Street. Not sure what bridge we’re talking about? Don’t worry. Even the most seasoned SR 99 commuter may not realize they are crossing a bridge at Broad Street.

That bridge, and Broad Street itself, must be completely transformed to make room for the future connection to the tunnel’s north portal and on- and off-ramps at Harrison and Republican streets.

Crews have already begun to fill in Broad Street with recycled concrete from the former roadway. Once we close this section of SR 99 to traffic, crews will bring in heavy equipment and demolish the old bridge in about 12 hours. They’ll then spend the next two days adding more fill material to make the new roadway level with the existing lanes of SR 99. After paving the new SR 99 roadway, crews will stripe the lanes and reinstall barriers. Once all of this is completed, SR 99 will reopen.

Closure information
Demolishing a bridge and building a new road in its place isn’t easy work. It is especially challenging on a major highway through Seattle. To minimize disruptions to drivers, crews will replace this portion of SR 99 in a mere four days. Drivers should plan ahead for SR 99 closures from Friday night, August 22 to Wednesday morning, August 27. Closure details can be found here.

There’s a lot of other WSDOT work that will happen on SR 99 during this closure as well, including utility work at Harrison Street, concrete panel replacement in SODO, expansion joint repairs on the viaduct near the Seneca Street off-ramp and removal of ivy from the viaduct in downtown Seattle.

We will continue to share information to help drivers plan ahead and get around during the closure.

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Freight Master Plan, BTG Financial Review and more

BTG20logo RESIZE

Would you like to know more about progress made by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on developing a Freight Master Plan? How about a review of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) finances and an update on the 2014 BTG work plan implementation? Would you like to meet new folks and find out how you can get engaged?   If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in luck!

The BTG Levy Oversight Committee has a meeting scheduled for July 29, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m., Seattle City Hall Room 370. The committee is a dedicated group of 15 community members who meet quarterly to review and track the progress of the BTG transportation initiative that was passed by Seattle voters in 2006. They are charged with ensuring SDOT is delivering on the promises made to voters.

Committee members come from all across the city and from all walks of life. They take their oversight and accountability role seriously and they work closely with SDOT to ensure that BTG is not only meeting its goals, but that it is being integrated into the overall goals of the department and the City.

The committee members include:

  • Ann Martin, Co-chair
  • Kristen Lohse, Co-chair
  • Ref Lindmark
  • Betty Seith-Croll
  • Allegra Calder
  • John Coney
  • Jeremy Valenta
  • Barbara Wright
  • Chisula Chambers
  • Jessica Szelag, Bicycle Advisory Board member
  • Lydia Heard, Pedestrian Advisory Board member
  • David Mendoza, Freight Advisory Board member
  • Ben Noble, City Budget Director
  • Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee Chair

All committee meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend and share their views on BTG during public comment. If you are interested in how your tax dollars are allocated, why not mark your calendar and join us July 29th.

For more information, please visit BTG Levy Oversight Committee website.

 

 

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