Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan Ready for Comments

So you’re out for a stroll in your neighborhood and you come across a sidewalk that’s starting to buckle. As you take a closer look, it’s easy to tell that the roots of the large, beautiful tree next to the sidewalk are the cause of the problem.

Street trees and sidewalks both play vital roles in our public realm, helping to make Seattle more livable and sustain our quality of life. It’s not unusual to find examples of trees and sidewalks in conflict, especially in older neighborhoods with more mature trees.

But what to do? No one wants to lose a tree, but we need our sidewalks to be flat enough and wide enough for people to use. To help answer these tough questions, SDOT has developed a draft Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan to help us better address common conflicts between trees and sidewalks.Plan Cover

The purpose of the operations plan is to be clear about our responsibilities and processes and to provide guidance on installation, repair, and maintenance of sidewalks and street trees in Seattle. The plan includes the following sections:

  • Best practices research from around the country that can inform the work we do in Seattle;
  • A transparent decision process that explains how we make choices about keeping or removing a tree;
  • A toolkit of solutions that we can use to plant and retain healthy trees and provide accessible sidewalks; and
  • Three case studies that put the decision process and tools to the test.


The operations plan is available for you to review on our website, at All comments are welcome and must be received by Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Please take a minute to look through the plan and share your thoughts with us!

2014 Sidewalk Construction complete courtesy of Bridging the Gap!

How many miles of sidewalk can be found in the City of Seattle? More than 2,200 miles! That’s a lot of sidewalk; however, we have a ways to go before the network is complete. Sidewalks play an important role in our communities, they connect us and provide safe alternatives to get from home to work or school or play. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation initiative, passed by Seattle voters in 2006. Since 2007, more than 100 blocks of new sidewalk have been constructed across the city and in 2014 seven blocks have been constructed making the 9-year goal of 117 now within reach.


A key part of BTG has been the development of a Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP). The PMP is a long-term action plan to that establishes the policies, programs, design criteria and projects that will further enhance pedestrian safety and access in all of Seattle’s neighborhoods.  The plan serves as a guide for SDOT as decisions are made regarding new sidewalk construction.


Sandpoint Way NE

Sandpoint Way NE

Completed 2014 BTG sidewalk projects:


New sidewalks provide the key connection within and between our neighborhoods. They make it easier to get to school, to work and to use transit. For more information on the completed 2014 projects please visit SDOT’s Sidewalk Development Program webpage. The list of projects for 2015 will be posted soon, so remember to check back!

For information on BTG and the other projects funded please visit their webpage.

The Hill is Hoppin’ even if the Cranes are Diggin’!

One thing that’s clear on Capitol Hill is that it’s sometimes not clear due to construction. There’s a lot of construction. Though projects are finishing and leaving shiny new developments in their wake (as shown in green on the map below), completion can’t come soon enough when you’re surrounded.



As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, Capitol Hill businesses are open! Development in the area bounded by 10th Avenue, E Pike Street, 11th Avenue and E Union Street is pretty concentrated so keep your eyes open as you travel to Wild Rose, Cupcake Royale or Café’ Pettirosso. They’re keeping their eyes out for you, creating events to make your arrival well worth it…


One example is next Monday’s Public Market at Café Pettirosso, with the Holiday-core quintet Dancer & Prancer. The pop-up market will feature local crafts, artists and vintage curators to meet your shopping needs while the back-drop of cheery holiday music makes the particularly palatable Pettirosso flavors all the more pleasing…


The Wild Rose Tavern is also looking out for you this New Year’s Eve. Not letting construction get the corner on the street-closing market, the Wild Rose is closing E Pike Street between 10th and 11th avenues from 7AM December 31st until 5AM January 1, New Year’s Day. For its 30th Anniversary the Tavern is hosting a party in the street–complete with tents, outdoor bar, stage and sound system. As you make your plans to attend, remember that 11th Avenue near that segment will not be available for use. WildRoseParty


So, remember to visit Capitol Hill early and often, or late and often—just often. The hill is hoppin’ even if the cranes are diggin’. Speaking of which, the next big project in the area, at 1427 11th Avenue East, is scheduled to start December 17, 2014. The Access Seattle Construction Hub team is on it…and we’ll keep you posted as we coordinate!


P.S. It’s not like we have a Pet Project or anything, but there is a Yappy Hour we’d like to mention. No, that’s not a typo. The Feed Bag, at 518 East Pike Street, says “Feliz Navi-Dog” December 18 with nummies for Fido and human alike. So grab a leash and head on over next Thursday!

Paulo Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT as the new Transit division director

Mayor Ed Murray, along with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly, announced the appointment of Paulo Nunes-Ueno as the new SDOT Transit division director. Joining the department’s executive team, Nunes-Ueno will lead a newly created SDOT division focused on addressing the city’s and region’s current and future transit needs.


It’s critically important that we deliver expanded transit services efficiently and cost-effectively after Seattle voters said yes to Proposition 1,” said Mayor Murray. “We’re stepping up to work with Metro to identify the routes and increased service that will roll out this summer. The new Transit Division will help ensure that we get the most from our investment.”


In this new position, Nunes-Ueno will lead a team of transportation professionals focused on delivering safe, efficient and cost-effective transit solutions for Seattle. This division will be responsible for four main areas: transit policy, planning and procurement; transit design and construction oversight; transit operations and interagency coordination; and mobility options and parking programs that support transit. Nunes-Ueno will also provide subject matter expertise to SDOT leadership, the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and other City departments.


“Making transit better helps everyone who lives in, works in or visits Seattle,” said SDOT Director Kubly. “With the creation of a new Transit division and the hiring of Paulo Nunes-Ueno, we will have the right team in place to guide our short- and long-term transit efforts. He is a strong hire due to his success at Children’s Hospital, where his transit and commute trip reduction work resulted in sixty percent of employees walking, biking or taking transit.”


Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT after having served as the director of Transportation and Sustainability for Seattle Children’s Hospital, and manager of King County Metro’s Commute Trip Reduction Services Project/Program. He will start at the City on December 17.

Winter Weather Brochures Available Now

SDOT’s annual winter weather brochure is available now and has a large map of Seattle’s snow and ice routes, lists important telephone numbers and websites to use during winter storms, and offers preparedness tips.

We work closely with King County Metro Transit, the Seattle School District, local universities, and hospitals, to ensure our snow-fighting work maintains mobility for people and goods, and access to the region.

Winter Weather 2014 MapThe snow route map shows where we will focus our snow-fighting efforts. Those streets will be treated with de-icer and plowed when the storm hits. Now is a good time to plan routes to get to work, the grocery store, child care and medical appointments.


The brochures are free at Seattle Public Library branches, Neighborhood Service Centers, and available soon at Seattle Parks Community Centers.


They are available in 10 languages including: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Somali, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Amharic.


We’ve distributed brochures to Seattle public elementary schools students to share with their parents and families, in addition to local hospitals and community organizations.


The Winter Weather and Snow Route Map for 2014/2015 are viewable and downloadable at the following link:

New Downtown Parklet opens

The new Chromer Building Parklet is open at 2nd Ave at Pike St (1516 2nd Ave.) featuring spaced concrete blocks for seating in addition to chairs, tables and games (large Jenga blocks, and Connect 4).




Urban Visions manages the Chromer Building and hosts the new parklet adjacent to their recently-renovated building. The parklet is downtown’s first and the largest to open in SDOT’s Pilot Parklet Program.

Shannon Nichol of parklet designer Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, talks about the space utilization with SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Downtown Seattle Association CEO Jon Scholes, and Greg Smith Urban Visions Founder

Shannon Nichol of parklet designer Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, talks about the space utilization with SDOT Director Scott Kubly, Downtown Seattle Association CEO Jon Scholes, and Greg Smith, Urban Visions Founder

The parklet will offer a unique public space in the Downtown core featuring seating, art, bike parking, and different types of programming. Parklets are small community gathering spaces built in a few on-street parking spots, are a cost-effective way to activate streets, create more vibrant neighborhoods, and promote economic vitality. The Chromer Building parklet will be the fifth parklet to open in the Pilot Parklet Program.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly says it's a great addition for all to use and enjoy.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly says it’s a great addition for all to use and enjoy.

Seattle now has five parklets open, and another 10 to open in the coming months. Parklets are now open at Montana Bar (Capitol Hill), Oasis Tea Zone (Chinatown/International District), Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Wallingford), and Cortona Café (Central District). The Chromer Building parklet (Downtown). SDOT is continuing to work with the following parklet hosts to permit their parklets:

  • City Hostel Seattle in Belltown (2327 2nd Ave)
  • Harbour Pointe Coffeehouse in Madison Valley (2818 E Madison St)
  • Equilibrium Fitness in West Seattle (3270 California Ave SW)
  • Tin Umbrella Coffee Roasters in Hillman City (5600 Rainier Ave S)
  • Bottlehouse and Hi Spot Café in Madrona (1416 34th Ave)
  • Lost Lake Lounge and Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill (10th Ave and Pike St)
  • Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Denny Triangle (1915 Terry Ave)
  • Uptown Alliance at SIFF Cinema in Uptown (511 Queen Anne Ave N)
  • U District Advocates in the University District (1316 NE 43rd St)
  • Delancey in Ballard (1415 NW 70th St)

Parklet opening at 2nd & Pike tomorrow!

Less than three months after the installation of the 2nd Ave Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project, a new public space is coming to 2nd Ave at Pike St. Urban Visions, manager of the Chromer Building at 1516 2nd Ave, is hosting a parklet adjacent to their recently-renovated building. The Chromer Building parklet will be the first parklet installed downtown and the largest to open in SDOT’s Pilot Parklet Program.

The Chromer Building parklet is nearly ready for visitors!

The Chromer Building parklet is nearly ready for visitors!

Beginning Wednesday, December 3, the parklet will offer a unique public space in the Downtown core featuring seating, art, bike parking, and different types of programming. The parklet will officially open at 12:00 noon with a celebration.


Join the Chromer Building parklet team, and representatives from the Downtown Seattle Association, the Mayor’s Office, and SDOT at the grand opening event. In the winter sunshine we’ll have brief comments, a ribbon cutting, music, games, hot chocolate, coffee, and eggnog for all to enjoy!


Parklets, which are small community gathering spaces built in a few on-street parking spots, are a cost-effective way to activate streets, create more vibrant neighborhoods, and promote economic vitality. The Chromer Building parklet will be the fifth parklet to open in the Pilot Parklet Program; 10 more parklets are on their way in the coming months.


Check out the Pilot Parklet Program website to see the other parklets in Seattle and get updates on the pilot program.

Bridging the Gap – Working to keep everyone safe!

Safety is one of the highest priorities for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and we give it a lot thought and are always working to make needed improvements to keep all roadway users safe. Guardrail and crash cushions are two items that we give little thought to until we need them. And hopefully, you will never need them.


Crash Cushion 12-2-14

Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative, SDOT crews are able keep the city’s crash cushions and guardrail upgraded and in good condition. Even though this program is one of the lesser-known items funded by BTG, it provides a vital safety net. In 2014, 820 linear feet of guardrail has been upgraded and installed and 12 new crash cushions have been replaced. SDOT will continue to make upgrades to these important pieces of transportation infrastructure.


BTG programs are working hard to make Seattle streets safer for all users! For more information on BTG please visit the web page.

Daylight: A key element in restoring and illuminating Elliott Bay’s nearshore ecosystem

In the early 1900s, Seattle began to expand the natural shoreline westward into Elliott Bay to accommodate ships that came to port at the deep water piers along the central waterfront. The mudflats and gently sloping beaches of Seattle’s original waterfront made way for concrete, steel, and piers. Because of these changes, the juvenile salmon that migrate through Elliott Bay are left with little light and limited shallow water habitat along the shoreline.


The historic shoreline is filled during construction of the existing seawall

The historic shoreline is filled during construction of the existing seawall

The Seawall Project will include habitat improvements along the new seawall. New light penetrating surfaces, in the form of glass blocks in the overhanging sidewalk, will help light reach the water near the seawall and minimize the light to dark contrast that overwater structures create. Ensuring sunlight can reach the water is important for encouraging habitat growth and lighting the way for migrating salmon.


The Seawall Project has partnered with the University of Washington to measure existing light levels near the seawall and study salmon behavior, and the project has determined the best pattern to filter light to the water below while still providing structural integrity.

The new sidewalk will include light penetrating surfaces in a checkered pattern

The new sidewalk will include light penetrating surfaces in a checkered pattern


The first light penetrating surface panels have been cast – one of several “pre-cast elements” of the project – and will be installed in the work zone south of Colman Dock at the end of the year. When construction is complete in 2016, theses panels will provide a continuous lighted corridor along the central waterfront for migrating juvenile salmon and other sea life.


Glass blocks in the overhanging sidewalk help light reach the habitat below

Glass blocks in the overhanging sidewalk help light reach the habitat below

For more information about seawall construction, visit the Seawall Project website. If you have questions, email the Seawall Project ( or call the 24-hour hotline (206.618.8584).

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: