Seattle’s First Bicycle Leaning Rails – Coming soon!

Hey bike riders – Looking for a place to rest an arm or foot when you’re stopped at a light? You’ll be able to soon. As part of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan and upcoming safety improvements to the area, the City of Seattle is installing our first set of bicycle leaning rails at the intersection of the Burke-Gilman Trail and 25th Avenue NE next month.


Already utilized in Copenhagen, Denmark, and recently installed in Chicago, leaning rails are convenient structures that allow bicyclists to rest their foot and have something to hold onto for balance while waiting at the traffic light rather than using traffic light posts or other poles around them.

In addition to the leaning rail, a push button will be installed directly in front of the hand rail for people on bikes to initiate the bicycle and pedestrian crossing phase. The new leaning rails on the Burke-Gilman Trail near 25th Avenue NE will also help align bike riders to one side of the trail so the sidewalk is kept clear for pedestrians, making it safer for all to cross the street.

As this the first project of its kind here in Seattle, the installation will be a testing ground for SDOT. We’ll be evaluating potential future sites, as appropriate. If you have questions or comments about the project, please email or call 206-684-7583.

Additional improvements to this intersection include:

  • Upgraded curb ramps to be compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Signal modifications for a new protected bicycle/pedestrian phase for the south crossing on the Burke-Gilman Trail with bicycle icon signal heads and push buttons.
  • Signal modifications to accommodate a new right-turn only pocket and protected turning phase on the west side of the intersection for eastbound motorists on NE Blakeley Street.

We will also be improving the intersection of 30th Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail by building a raised crosswalk to alert drivers of this crossing and slow vehicle speeds. Raised crosswalks also help improve visibility between motorists and pedestrians and help maintain a level crossing for people biking, walking or with disabilities. You can learn more about the project, construction timeline and impacts by visiting our project Web page:

Pedestrian access during construction

The Access Seattle Construction Hub Coordination Program is a new effort to limit mobility impacts from multiple simultaneous construction projects in close proximity–otherwise known as hubs. With unprecedented levels of development underway in Seattle maintaining access can be challenging. The hub team is making progress incrementally, across all travel modes. Site coordinators bring together leads from all public and private projects in a hub to encourage:

  • Pedestrian detours to the opposing sidewalk at the nearest crossing;
  • Advanced warning signs for closures and detour signs ; and
  • Walkthrough scaffolding, to provide overhead protection and full-time ped access

Walkthrough scaffolding newly installed along Harrison St. near 9th


The idea is to limit mobility impacts while helping the work get done safely and efficiently. Solutions like walkthrough scaffolding help contractors as well, providing overhead storage space. And detour signs showing specifically where to cross can improve safety and keep construction moving without interruption.

An example of recent hub work to coordinate pedestrian traffic is the newly installed walkthrough scaffolding along Harrison Street, in South Lake Union. The hub team worked with the contractor on construction at 400 9th Avenue to arrive at the solution. Development has created challenges in the area so more coordination is underway.

The Construction Hub Coordination Program is new this year from the Access Seattle Initiative, but it’s off to a running start (as pedestrian pathways allow…). Results from work by the small but nimble team can be seen in Capitol Hill and South Lake Union and West Seattle and in growing areas across the city. If you have questions about the program:

Email or



P.S. For more on pedestrian access during construction and the Access Seattle Hub team effort, view the 11.26.2014 KING 5 TV “Solution to closed sidewalks? Open communication story.



Bridging the Gap 2014 signage work nearly complete!

Did you know that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has replaced more than 44,000 regulatory traffic signs, more than 157 miles of bike routes have been signed and more than 9,800 intersections have received new street name signs all across the city? All of this work has been possible thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation Initiative passed by Seattle voters in 2006. The nine-year, $365 million initiative has been instrumental in making key improvements to Seattle’s roads, bridges, sidewalks, signals and signs.

New Street signs and South Jackson Street and Lakeside Avenue South

New Street signs and South Jackson Street and Lakeside Avenue South

The good news for 2014 is SDOT has either met, or is on track to meet, all of its goals for signage replacement and upgrades for this year. So far this year, SDOT has replaced 2,907 regulatory signs and installed new street name signs at 1,232, added 20 miles of new bike route signs, improved signage at 12 school zones and are working to complete replacement of five overhead directional signs. With only a few signs left to be replaced or installed all work will be completed by the end of the year.

Have you ever wondered what SDOT does with those old street names signs? Wonder no more! As noted in previous blog posts, various street name signs – named and numbered – are available through the City of Seattle Fleets and Facilities surplus warehouse.   An updated list of available signs ranging in price from $5 – 15 is posted on the web. Please see details and contact the warehouse directly if you are interested in purchasing a sign. Holiday shopping? The signs are great gifts for the person who has everything in life or is looking for a new creative project!

Please visit the Bridging the Gap web page for additional information about the initiative.


Mercer Corridor Project – Third Eastbound Lane on Mercer Street Opened November 16

The Mercer Corridor Project recently opened a third eastbound lane on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and 9th Avenue North.  Construction Crews have worked diligently to complete paving, lane striping, and signal adjustments in order to reach this important milestone. The new configuration provides three continual eastbound lanes on Mercer Street between 5th Avenue North and I-5, providing some relief for travel from Queen Anne and Seattle Center across Aurora Avenue North.

Crews also added two new turn lanes from westbound Mercer Street onto southbound 5th Avenue North and demolished the remaining portions of the bridge over Broad Street at Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North. Work continues on the sidewalk and bike path on the north side of Mercer Street, at the intersection of Mercer Street and Dexter Avenue North, and along 5th Avenue North.  As a reminder, please pay attention to street signs as travelers adjust to new traffic patterns.

For up-to-minute construction updates join our project email list at: or call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206-419-5818.

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Installing new traffic signals on Mercer Street

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North

Construction Crews working on Dexter Avenue North



SDOT talks Winter WeatherPreparations with KING TV

SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke shares with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, SDOT’s winter preparations plan explaining major streets are prioritized for snow response and the use of de-icing salt and plows are ready when called into action. Christopher tells Tracy, “It’s a coordinated regional effort with other city, county, and state agencies working together to keep people and traffic moving so they can get to where there going”.

We will plow major streets which 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.

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 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.
SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke chats with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, about SDOT’s winter preparations plan

SDOT Street Maintenance Operations Manager Christopher Luedke chats with KING TV Traffic Anchor Tracy Taylor, about SDOT’s winter preparations plan


KING TV Morning Anchors Joyce Taylor, Tracy Taylor, Rich Marriott, and Mark Wright during the "Take Winter By Storm" video shoot where SDOT talked about Winter weather preparedness

KING TV Morning Anchors Joyce Taylor, Tracy Taylor, Rich Marriott, and Mark Wright during the “Take Winter By Storm” video shoot where SDOT talked about Winter weather preparedness



Investigating Carbon Fiber Potential

The proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 at Northgate – linking the North Seattle College on the west with the bus and (future) light rail transit center on the east – has to be pretty high for vehicles on the freeway to pass underneath. That height (about 40 feet above 1st Avenue NE) makes for a looong approach ramp, over 1500 feet, most of it up in the air.

Traditionally these bridge types are steel, and that is what the design codes reference, but SDOT’s team is considering the possibility of using carbon fiber – the stuff that Boeing uses in the 787. Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel at less than a quarter of the weight which enables longer spans, smaller foundations, faster construction and less traffic disruption. Andy Bridge, Director of Research and Development for Janicki Industries, says other advantages include reduced visual impacts due to a thinner support structure, easily formed organic shapes, and lower maintenance costs.

The SDOT Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge team will be considering many factors – principally safety – in making design decisions, but is excited about the potential of new materials and methods.   This is just one way in which SDOT is seeking to take advantage of innovations in design to reduce costs and provide great service.

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Proposed Carbon Fiber Ped and Bike Bridge over I-5 at Northgate

Construction on the Hill: Businesses are Open!

Development in and around downtown Seattle is booming, especially in the designated Capitol Hill construction hub where a total of 24 projects are currently in construction. One particularly concentrated area is around 10th and 11th avenues, near E Union Street. That’s where three active construction projects have been going for about two years including Seattle City Light underground work and Seattle Department of Transportation street restoration work along 10th Avenue. The combined impacts have created a number of challenges for businesses in the area, especially since another big project will soon break ground on the same street.

So what do businesses do when surrounded by seemingly continuous construction? That’s a question the Access Seattle Construction Hub team is looking to successfully answer. The team meets regularly with contractors and project managers of all public and private projects to reduce cumulative impacts. They also meet with business owners and residents to identify problems and seek solutions through project coordination. But, it’s still challenging. Take Sweatbox Yoga for instance. Located at 1417 10th Avenue, the cranes they’re surrounded with are forcing business owners into something of a crane pose themselves–difficult for even the most advanced yoga enthusiasts to hold for an extended time, much less for 24 months or so.


On the plus side, a huge project at the corner of E Union and 10th Avenue just wrapped up (see green on the map). Of course, another big project is set to start mid-December at 1427 11th Avenue, building 136 residential units and a 128-car parking garage below. Again, the progress creating housing and jobs and other improvements also creates hurdles. SDOT’s Access Seattle Construction Hub team wants to hear what those hurdles are, at stakeholder meetings held every other Friday at 10 a.m. at the Comet Tavern. The more we know, the more we can strive to coordinate for improved access.

Construction in cities is a necessary occurrence, but dwindling patronage shouldn’t be. Though they promote relaxation of sorts, Sweatbox Yoga isn’t taking it lying down. Owners Frankie and Laura have launched a campaign to weather the Capitol Hill construction and stay strong well into the future. Their creative idea is The SweatBox Small and Mighty Campaign, offering reward packages for donations as well as other thanks for showing support. We applaud their innovative business plan, as we too look at ways to keep businesses thriving during unprecedented development.   Let’s keep working to get the word out—businesses are open!

Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit, Design Workshop and Open House, Nov. 20

trolley bus


Come to a workshop to help refine concepts for the Madison Corridor Bus Rapid Transit to improve transit service in the Madison Corridor.

When: Thursday, November 20, 5 – 7 PM

Where: Silver Cloud Hotel, 1100 Broadway (at Madison)

The workshop will be organized around interactive design stations focused on each neighborhood in the corridor – Downtown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill/Central Area. At each station, we’ll present community-developed design ideas that focus on key intersections or a potential station location within each area.

Each station will be staffed with engineers, planners, and urban designers to allow for an interactive conversation and sketching of design ideas to capture community ideas and feedback.

The goal of the workshop is to refine community-developed design ideas to serve as the foundation for developing corridor-wide bus rapid transit alternatives to be evaluated in the Madison Corridor BRT Study.

SDOT launched the Madison Corridor BRT Study earlier this year and the year-long study is expected to conclude next summer. The Study will develop a bus rapid transit concept for the corridor that has stakeholder, public and elected official support; is backed by a viable phasing and implementation plan; and positions the City for future funding opportunities to help design and build the project.

This Workshop and Open House is an important step in gaining insight into corridor issues and locations ripe for improvement.

How to get there:
Metro bus service provides direct connections to the Silver Cloud Hotel via Routes 2, 9, 43, 49, and 60 (Broadway and E Union St. stop) and Route 12 (Broadway and Madison stop).  For bicyclists, the protected bike lane on Broadway provides direct access to Silver Cloud, the closest bike racks are just west of the Madison and Boylston intersection, one block west of the Silver Cloud Hotel.

You can learn more about the project at If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with Sara Walton at or (206) 386-4645.



Quick action protects public and property

As you watch weather reports for the next predicted storm, know that the SDOT Urban Forestry team is looking out for you! Their quick thinking and decision making earlier this month is an example. During the November 6th wind storm that left so many people without power, another impact was waiting to happen: a massive Ash tree along the 1300 block of N 45th Street was swaying with such force that the sidewalk near its base began to crack.

Crews at the adjacent construction project called Urban Forestry for help. They knew who to call since the Urban Forestry team was regularly monitoring the site to ensure surrounding trees were protected during construction.


Large Ash trees in the 1300 block of N 45th Street at risk of collapse during November 6, 2014 windstorm

Certified Arborist and SDOT Tree Crew Supervisor Joe Markovich went out immediately to determine next steps. Seeing that the tree could not be saved he called in a contractor he knew could do quality work on short notice. While coordinating on site, Joe noticed that another tree was on the verge of failure, so he expanded the project to cover two tree removals and worked fast to update other agencies responding to the storm.


Crews work to remove the unstable trees before they collapse

The threat to public safety warranted a temporary full closure of N 45th Street between Interlaken and Stone Way N, but it wasn’t closed for long. Coordinating with tree removal contractor Kemp West, SDOT Street Maintenance, the Seattle Police Department and King County Metro the risk was abated and the road reopened in less than three hours. The effective communication and collaboration will surely be needed again, as this is the season for Seattle windstorms!

Innovative Maintenance Facility

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture  courtesy of Rushing Co

Picture courtesy of Rushing Co

The streetcars that will run on the First Hill Line will be maintained in a facility that was just awarded a LEED Gold Certificate for its many sustainable features. Some of the most notable elements are:

  • a green roof with a 7kW solar panel array
  • a bio-retention area and pervious concrete pavers to maximize stormwater collection and infiltration
  • abundant daylighting with operable windows and skylights to provide natural ventilation and cooling
  • high efficiency LED and fluorescent lighting with smart controls
  • radiant in-floor heating which utilizes a high efficiency hydronic heating boiler

Other energy systems for the facility include a heat recovery ventilator, a variable refrigerant flow system and heat reclaim from the electrical room.

These characteristics are all the more impressive when considering that the nature of the facility and its construction. More than 17% of the materials used in the construction (by cost) were recycled and more than 10% were sourced locally (within 500 miles). The lumber used was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure responsible forest management and while other materials and finishes were low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) certified.

In addition the facility will foster ongoing energy savings by maintenance staff. It includes an electric car charging station, bicycle storage and (energy efficient) showers.

This Gold LEEDS Certificate demonstrates the viability of adopting sustainable design for all types of buildings – and the commitment to innovation in the design and maintenance of Seattle’s Streetcar system.

LEED Certifications