Streetcar Safety Ambassadors Hit the Streets for the First Hill Streetcar Soft Launch

SDOT Safety Ambassadors have been out on the First Hill Streetcar line since last weekend to help community members navigate the Streetcar line which had its soft launch last Saturday. The language-capable ambassadors (English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Amharic, Tigrinya, and Spanish) have been ready to provide information about how the streetcars operate and share streetcar safety tips.

A Streetcar Safety Ambassador chats with community members.

The ambassadors highlighted some key safety tips that everyone should know:

  • Streetcars are quiet, but may sound bells and horns
  • There are no fences or barriers separating the streetcars
  • Drivers should be prepared to stop behind streetcars
  • Streetcars cannot swerve to avoid obstacles as they run on tracks
  • Streetcars sometimes have their own traffic signals and can cross the street when other vehicles cannot
  • Cyclists should cross streetcar tracks at a right angle to avoid falling
A Streetcar Safety Ambassador gives out pamphlets discussing safety around the Streetcar.

A Streetcar Safety Ambassador gives out pamphlets discussing safety around the Streetcar.

While the ambassadors were primarily there to discuss safety, they were also able to talk about other aspects of the new Streetcar and answer any questions. Many people were happy to learn that they could take the Streetcar for free until the official launch still to be announced.

A Streetcar leaves the Broadway and Denny stop.

A Streetcar leaves the Broadway and Denny stop.

The First Hill Streetcar operates from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There are 10 stops on the First Hill Streetcar line, connecting the diverse and vibrant residential neighborhoods and business districts of of Capitol Hill, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Central Area, Chinatown, Japantown and Pioneer Square, while also serving major medical centers (Swedish Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center), institutions of higher learning (Seattle Central College and Seattle University) and major sporting event venues (CenturyLink & Safeco Field).

Here’s our “Streetcar 101” Blog Video featuring SDOT Rail Transit Manager Ethan Melone from last month.

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SDOT Crews Help Improve Transit to and from South Lake Union

More reliable, more frequent and faster transit service is coming to South Lake Union this March.

Service improvements include extending the C-Line (W. Seattle/downtown) to South Lake Union and increasing bus service on Route 8 (Seattle Center/Capitol Hill/Rainier Valley), Route 40 (Ballard/Fremont) and Route 70 (U District). To help keep service frequent and reliable, SDOT is creating dedicated transit lanes on Westlake Ave N, widening sidewalks and extending transit stops to keep people, streetcars and buses moving. We recognize moving around South Lake Union is not always easy and we’re taking steps to make it better.

SLU1

That’s where SDOT’s Maintenance Operations crews come in. Since the start of the year, our crews have been widening sidewalks and building longer transit stops to accommodate the additional buses and information kiosks.  While carrying out the construction, crews are maintaining pedestrian access next to the site, carefully demolishing sections of concrete near storefronts and working through heavy rains.

SLU2

It takes a lot of coordination to carry out this kind of work in a busy job center. The City chose to keep the South Lake Union Streetcar running during rush hour to serve commuters. This means that each day our crews set up their work sites after morning rush hour, carry out their work and then clean up the site before the evening commute. Crews have also been working all day Saturday and Sunday because of the longer work window provided by the temporary cancellation of streetcar service on weekends.

Staff from our concrete crews are working closely with our urban forestry staff to build new tree pits at these transit stops, and our crews from the lanes and markings group are coordinating on this project to clearly mark the new transit lanes and other markings on the street. We’ve even come up with low-cost drainage solutions that help water planting strips.

This commitment and coordination from SDOT crews is necessary to meet our deadline – which will allow rush hour transit capacity in South Lake Union to double in March!

It’s also worth mentioning that the South Lake Union project is happening while SDOT crews repair sidewalks, curb ramps and streets; maintain street trees; and manage lane markings all across the city.

More details on the South Lake Union transit project are here.

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Seattle’s Pedestrian Mobility Director’s Rule a Model for Other Cities

VzeroBlogDRIn February of last year, Seattle announced the launch of our Vision Zero program, a partnership between SDOT and the Seattle Police Department to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. Vision Zero is a worldwide effort that aims to improve traffic infrastructure and planning to increase safety for all travelers. Since its inception in Sweden in 1997, the program has been adopted in more than 15 major cities around the world, and Seattle is proud to now be one of those cities.

This year, as part of Seattle’s Vision Zero effort, SDOT drafted and adopted DR 10-2015 – better known as the Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility In and Around Work Zones. The main objective of the rule is to keep pedestrians safe and mobile around construction sites, and to outline specific requirements for developers and contractors whose work impacts the public right of way. Now, less than a month since the adoption of the DR, the novel approaches outlined in this rule have already begun to influence the way other cities approach pedestrian safety.

As Washington DC recently announced moves to implement its own Vision Zero program, some have pointed directly to Seattle as a model for how to achieve goals related to pedestrian safety. In fact, a recent article in CityLab (the urban planning magazine published by The Atlantic) praised SDOT’s new Director’s Rule as being a type of policy that “truly prioritized vulnerable street users.” The author calls out the sidewalk-closures-as-a-last-resort approach as being particularly noteworthy.

We’re committed to our role in the global movement toward ending traffic fatalities and serious injuries, and guidelines such as those outlined in DR 10-2015 bring us one step closer to achieving that vision. To find out more about the City’s plan for safer streets, you can download Seattle’s Vision Zero action plan here.

 

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SDOT Enhancing Mobility with Detectable Warning Tiles

SDOT is working to enhance mobility throughout our city. That includes projects such as installation of detectable warning surfaces at the base of curb ramps and at transit facilities to provide critical information to pedestrians with visual impairments. This tactile surface, in the shape of “truncated domes,” provides a warning to pedestrians that they are entering the roadway or that they have reached the edge of a boarding platform.

DWS1

Detectable Warning Surface

There are many different types of detectable warning surfaces available: plastic or polymer tiles, cast iron plates, surface mounted mats or pads, and even painted on domes using a template or mold. Because the detectable warning placement on surfaces has not always been standard practice, we are still learning about the different materials and options available. One thing that we have learned is that the detectable warning surface does not always last as long as the adjacent concrete or other surface material. Sometimes the domes are worn down when run over by vehicles or due to high pedestrian volumes; other times the products may fade, crack, or peel up or pop off from the surface it is mounted to.

DWS Failure

Example of a Detectable Warning Surface Failure

SDOT is evaluating different products and materials to assure that the most efficient and long-lasting surface is provided.  Recently, a local area distributor demonstrated an example of a removable detectable warning product. There are detectable warning options that are cast in concrete and anchored by bolts; if the tile cracks, wears down, or otherwise fails, a maintenance worker can remove the bolts and pull the tile from the concrete base. A new tile can then be installed without the need to rebuild the curb ramp, thus saving time, resources, and funds.

DWS Pic

A drill is used to remove the bolts from the detectable warning tile and the tile is removed

 

The anchor remains in the concrete that allows for a replacement tile to be installed

The anchor remains in the concrete that allows for a replacement tile to be installed

A new tile is screwed in to the existing anchors

A new tile is screwed in to the existing anchors

If you have any questions about accessibility within the Seattle public right-of-way, we encourage you contact SDOT’s ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw. He can be reached at (206) 615-1974 or by email at Michael.Shaw@seattle.gov.

 

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New Safe Routes to School Beacon Hill Trail Groundbreaking

SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Mayor Ed Murray, Mercer Middle School Principal Chris Carter joined community members last week near Mercer Middle to celebrate groundbreaking of the first 2016 Safe Routes to Schools project in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The City of Seattle would like to thank the Beacon Hill community for collaborating on this project.

SDOT Dir. Scott Kubly, Mator Murray, Mercer Middle Principal Chris Carter and students at groundbreaking.

SDOT Dir. Scott Kubly, Mator Murray, Mercer Middle Principal Chris Carter and students at groundbreaking.

SDOT has begun construction of a new 2000-foot paved trail to give Beacon Hill schoolchildren a safer place to walk and bike that will connect 16th Ave South at South Spokane Street to the north and South Dakota Street. The trail runs parallel to Jefferson Park and will be a safe and direct paved path for the community to use, including students traveling to and from Mercer Middle School.

Our SDOT Sr. Transportation Planner and Safe Routes Coordinator Brian Dougherty shares details in the latest SDOT Blog Video:

Thanks to voter-approved funds provided by the Levy to Move Seattle, this new 2000-foot paved trail is the first of 12 levy funded school safety projects for 2016. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is building a paved, off-street trail to give Beacon Hill schoolchildren a safer place to walk and bike.  Here is a link to our Safe Routes to School project page.

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Reminder: Join us Monday, Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. to chat about the Roosevelt Way Paving & Safety Improvements Project

SDOT will soon be repaving Roosevelt Way NE from NE 65th St to the south end of the University Bridge. Construction is expected to begin in February, and last six to eight months.

We’d like to invite you to join us at the Open House where we’ll share details about the various elements of the project, along with what to expect during construction. The SDOT project team will be available to respond to questions. SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is completed.

The meeting is on Monday, January 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Room 108 of the University Heights Community Center, located at 5031 University Way NE. A presentation, providing an overview of the project and construction plans, will be made at 6:15 p.m.

SB in street at 43rd 09-01-14

In addition to paving the roadway, the Roosevelt Way NE Paving & Safety Project will also:

  • Create in-lane transit stops and consolidate bus stops to improve transit speed and reliability
  • Install a permanent protected bike lane on the west side of Roosevelt Way NE between NE 65th St and the University Bridge to improve safety for people biking
  • Install curb bulbs and pedestrian islands to shorten crossing distances and improve accessibility and visibility
  • Replace substandard curb ramps to meet federal Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards
  • Replace buckled or cracked sidewalks to improve safety for people walking

Proposed Cross Section_Bus_201503

The project team can also be reached at 206-727-3575 or RooseveltCorridor@seattle.gov. Additional information on the project can be found on the project website, located at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pave_roosevelt.htm.

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City offices are closed Jan. 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

All City of Seattle offices and public libraries are closed on January 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On-street parking is free in Seattle on Monday, January 18.

mlk

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15th Anniversary of Pioneer Square Pergola Restoration

Pioneer Square’s national landmark nestled on the corner of 1st Ave and Yesler Way has stood the test of time and a few crashes. Today, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of its unintentional demolition back in 2001. In the early hours of January 15, 2001, a commercial vehicle didn’t clear the corner and struck the pergola.

Pergola Grand Re-opening

Pioneer Square Pergola Grand Re-opening

The pergola was originally built in 1909 by architect Julian Everett as a stop for the Yesler and James Street Cable Car Company. This stop would not only attract bustling crowds with its exquisite architectural design, but it also stood above what was known as “The Queen Mary of the Johns”.

Throwback Pergola

Bustling crowds under the Pioneer Square Pergola in 1910

This historic rest room was one of the nation’s most intricate underground comfort stations, complete with “marble stalls, brass fixtures, oak chairs, white-tiled walls, and terrazzo floors.” Who knew we boasted the fanciest subterranean bathroom?!

The pergola served as a ventilation system for the rest room through its nonstructural, hollow pillars. The underground comfort station was sealed over after World War II, but the pergola remained standing until 2001. After the damage to the pergola was repaired, Seattle was able to reopen it on August 17, 2002.

Pergola in pieces

Pioneer Square pergola left in pieces after a semi-truck hit it in 2001

Unfortunately, history has a habit of repeating itself and the pergola had close encounters in 2008, 2012, and 2013. The Parks department took protective measures to ensure that our national landmark remains unscathed by these literal run-ins. Structural poles and bollards have been installed since its destruction in 2001.

Restore Pergola

Restoring the Pioneer Square Pergola in 2002

If you happen to be driving through Pioneer Square, don’t forget to check out the pergola’s stunning architecture on the corner of 1st and Yesler.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=2944

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=2950

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Commute Trip Reduction: One way, once a week is a great way to start!

New Year’s resolutions can be obtainable, and can start in measured steps (or pedals). January signals a new year and with it new hopes and expectations for ourselves. If you resolved to bike more, and in particular bike to work, set realistic goals and expectations for yourself: “one way, once a week” is a great way to start an enduring bike-to-work practice.

Broadway CTR

Biking along Broadway

All Metro buses, and most regional buses have a bike rack mounted on the front of the bus. Practice putting your bike on the bus, either by trying it out on a Saturday or Sunday, or during an off-peak time when the swirling pace of peak commute times slows down.

You can also access one of two publicly available bus-bike racks that never go anywhere:

  • North Seattle Community College, by the flagpole, at 9600 College Way N, Seattle, WA 98103
  • University of Washington Transportation office, at 3745 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

 

Plan your bike route home. In many cases it will be the same way going to work but in some cases it could be different. Look at a bike map, understand your options, and plan your route. Seattle Dept. of Transportation bike map, located online, is an excellent planning resource.

Next, make sure your bike is ready to ride: tires inflated and sound, brakes and gearing in good working order, and front and rear lights –especially during the dark and wet winter months! Consider bright, reflective clothing that will keep you dry and warm. There are plenty of resources online for “bike riding in the rain.” Remember – always wear a helmet. Not only is it the law – it’s a good idea.

You are now ready to ride to the bus. Bring extra clothing suitable to your bike commute home later that day. Take your time riding home the first couple of times. Obey all traffic signs and signals. You’ll gain confidence and skill the more you bike. Pretty soon your “one-way, once-a-week” will turn into an “all-the-way, everyday” commute.

For more on: Transportation Options

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Roosevelt Way NE Paving & Safety Improvements Project Begins Construction Soon

Construction of the Roosevelt Way NE Paving & Safety Improvements Project will begin as soon as next month!   In preparation for this work, we are hosting a project pre-construction open house on Monday, January 25, 5:30-7:30 PM, with a presentation at 6:15 PM, at the University Heights Community Center (5031 University Way NE, Room 108).  You are invited to join us and meet the project team, hear details about project elements and expected construction impacts, and ask questions.

SB in street at 43rd 09-01-14

The project, with construction expected to last through late summer, will repave Roosevelt Way NE between NE 65th St to the south end of the University Bridge, creating a safer and more comfortable road surface for all travelers.  In addition, the project will also:

  • Create in-lane transit stops and consolidate bus stops to improve transit speed and reliability
  • Install a permanent protected bike lane on the west side of Roosevelt Way NE between NE 65th St and the University Bridge to improve safety for people biking
  • Install curb bulbs and pedestrian islands to shorten crossing distances and improve accessibility and visibility
  • Replace substandard curb ramps to meet federal Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements
  • Replace buckled or cracked sidewalks to improve safety for people walking

Proposed Cross Section_Bus_201503

The new protected bike lane and in-lane transit stops remove on-street parking on the west side of Roosevelt Way NE from NE 65th to the University Bridge. A temporary protected bike lane was installed last year from NE 45th St to the University Bridge and will be upgraded to a permanent one with this project. Over the past year, SDOT worked with businesses and residents to develop an access and parking management plan to respond to this change.

We heard a variety of opinions on how on-street parking should be considered and managed. Some prefer more focus on travel options to reduce the need for on-street parking, while others wanted more certainty that parking would be available close to their homes or businesses. Small businesses without parking lots are interested in maintaining some all-day parking for employees and all need delivery access. Folks want to ensure those with mobility challenges can park close to destinations and have safe crossings of Roosevelt; and many requested two-hour parking on Roosevelt between NE 55th St and Ravenna Blvd.

To mitigate the loss of on-street parking, we are considering a number of changes, including:

  • Adjusting the on-street parking time limits in some locations to better serve the needs of adjacent property owners and tenants
  • Adding on-street parking on adjacent side streets to help restore what is being removed
  • Expanding Zone 10 of the Restricted Parking Zone program, adding residential blocks west of Roosevelt Way NE and north of, and including, NE 56th St

For more please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pave_roosevelt.htm

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