Grants, grants and more grants!

BTG20logo-RESIZEThe Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation levy was passed by Seattle voters in 2006. BTG committed not only to construct city-funded transportation projects, but also to leverage other funds and support a variety of partnership opportunities. In the past eight years, the average annual amount of grants awarded to SDOT has increased more than 50%.

As BTG approaches the end of its nine-year lifespan, approximately $340 million in BTG funds have been spent, and these expenditures have been matched with $227 million in grants. This is well above the commitment that BTG initially made to Seattle voters, to leverage at least 20% in grant funding. In addition to providing the required local match for many grants, BTG has helped SDOT to design the well-planned and clearly-scoped projects that are attractive for granting agencies.

For additional information on BTG please visit the BTG web page. For more information on SDOT’s grant development program, visit the grants web page.

King Street Station

King Street Station


Streetcar Connection for Center of the City

Center City Open House Handout-1No transportation project may better exemplify the value of transportation connections in Seattle than the Seattle Streetcar – Center City Connector. This project would literally connect South Lake Union streetcar line, which opened in 2007, with the First Hill streetcar line which will begin operations in 2015. The Center City Connector will link over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods with a system that stretches from Capitol Hill and First Hill, to the International District and South Downtown, and north to the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union, passing through the heart of downtown. By linking existing streetcar investments, the Connector will provide a streetcar system that is easy-to-use for a variety of trip purposes and serves major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. With this new linkage, the Seattle Center City streetcar system is projected to carry in the range of 23,000 to 30,000 average weekday riders.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved First Avenue as the route for this new streetcar segment. The streetcar will serve key Center City destinations such as the Pike Place Market, Marion Street bridge to the ferries at Colman Dock, and Pioneer Square.

Completion of the Center City Connector will allow for a new operating pattern designed to provide very high frequency service-every five minutes from the Westlake area to Pioneer Square, and every ten minutes outside of the core.  The City Council has authorized SDOT to proceed with design and environmental review as well as development of funding strategies. The City will be seeking a Federal grant of up to $75 million toward the $110M project cost. Preliminary work is already underway focusing on urban design opportunities, connection options between First Avenue and the Westlake Transportation Hub, parking and access strategies, and construction phasing options.

An Open House for the project is planned for November 19th 5:00 – 7:30 PM, at 85 Pike Street on the 3rd Floor in the Elliott Bay Room and Atrium Loft. Feel free to find out more about the Seattle Streetcar at where you can sign up to receive updates on this and other streetcar news.

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Can you see it now? Signal Improvement work thanks to Bridging the Gap!

New signal 145thHave you noticed all the work that the Seattle Department of Transportation has been doing recently? Much of that work has been accomplished thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation initiative. The initiative, currently in its eighth year, has provided key funding for paving roads, constructing new sidewalks, re-striping arterials, rehabilitating bridges, replacing worn out street name signs, striping bikes and sharrows, repairing sidewalks, pruning and planting trees and making improvements along key transit corridors across the city.

While many of the BTG projects are highly visible, funding is also provided for basic maintenance work that is not so visible. Some of the projects include completing preventative maintenance on all 1,070 signals in the city each year and maintaining the “brains” behind the signals. Keeping signals in good working order is important to keeping traffic moving. SDOT has kept its promise to maintain all signals annually and to upgrade and maintain the systems behind those signals.

New traffic signal requests, left turn improvement requests and overall safety concerns are all investigated as part of BTG. If that investigation determines that a new signal or improvement is necessary, funding is available through the BTG program. Over the first seven years of the levy more than 445 new signal requests have been reviewed resulting in 27 new signals installed; 224 left turn requests have been investigated, resulting in 36 improvements; and, more than 333 overall safety concerns have been evaluated resulting in more than 185 improvements. These improvements are not cheap and every request ,whether implemented or not , must go through a lengthy process of on-site monitoring, data analysis, evaluation, review, more number crunching before final approvals.  The actual installation phase entails another equally lengthy process and none of this could happen without the funding from the BTG.

A lot of BTG project work is highly visible and easily recognized; it is the less visible work that helps keep traffic (all modes!) moving and safe. If you would like more information on BTG please visit the website.



Taking a Look at the Arbor Heights Microsurfacing Project

This year SDOT extended the life of many streets in Arbor Heights through a preventive maintenance program called microsurfacing.

Microsurfacing is a thin layer of emulsion applied to the surface of the road to seal minor cracks and keep out water.

pic b after  cropped

A layer of seal coat minutes after it was applied.

This “seal coat” protects pavement that is in good condition, similar to the way paint protects wood siding on a house from the weather. As we all know, it’s cheaper to preserve what you have today than having to rebuild it later.

SDOT conducted a microsurfacing trial program in 2013 on about 12 lane miles of residential streets in Wedgwood.   Based on those results, 27 lane miles of residential streets in Arbor Heights were microsurfaced over seven days this August.

As these photos from Arbor Heights show, microsurfacing also renews the surface of the streets and improves their appearance.

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Pavement before microsurfacing

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Renewed pavement surface

Now that folks in Arbor Heights have experienced the renewed roads for a couple of months, SDOT would like your feedback on the finished product, project execution and our outreach.

If you experienced this project, please take a few minutes to fill out our online survey.  Thanks!

For more info on the Arbor Heights project, see this SDOT blog article or SDOT’s microsurfacing page.

The Speed Hump Report

Data shows that speed humps work.

Data shows that speed humps work.


Children are safer when cars move at low speeds  their schools.

Children are safer when cars move at low speeds around schools.

Earlier this year, we told you about SDOT’s plans to install speed humps near schools to encourage more drivers to travel at or below the speed limit. So far this year, SDOT has installed speed humps adjacent to six schools in Seattle: Olympic Hills Elementary, Thurgood Marshall Elementary, Emerson Elementary, Thornton Creek K-8, Eckstein Middle School and Explorer Middle School.

The goal of installing speed humps near schools is to lower vehicle speed where a large number of kids are crossing the street during arrival and dismissal. But do they work? We often hear from people who question whether speed humps, which are only 3 inches high, could possibly change driver behavior. SDOT has increasing evidence showing that speed humps are extremely effective at reducing speed and improving safety. Below are the results of before and after studies SDOT conducted after installing speed humps at three schools in different neighborhoods in Seattle. At all three schools, the percent of drivers exceeding the speed limit decreased more than 70%. Perhaps more impressive, the percent driving more than 10 mph over the speed limit decreased by more than 80%.


You might be thinking ‘Alright, so they’re effective. Big deal.’ Oh but it is a big deal! Drivers traveling 10 mph or more over the speed limit are some of the biggest threats to kids walking and biking to school. Slowing down allows drivers to stop at a shorter distance which can prevent a crash from happening in the first place. Not only that, vehicle speed itself is a major factor in whether someone walking or biking is killed or injured if hit by a car. A pedestrian hit by a car that’s traveling 35 or 40 miles per hour is likely to be killed, while a pedestrian hit at 20 miles per hour has a 95 percent chance of survival.

With approximately 30 percent of Seattle streets lacking sidewalks, in some neighborhoods kids walking and biking to school have no choice but to share the street with vehicles. One of the great things about speed humps is that they work during school arrival and dismissal and throughout the day. By reducing aggressive speeders on streets where children are walking or biking to school, SDOT is making our streets safer for everyone.

Roosevelt Way NE Slated for Repaving in 2015-Project Open House on Monday, November 17

Roosevelt Way NE now

Roosevelt Way NE now

Each year, SDOT repaves several major city streets meeting basic maintenance needs, while taking advantage of the work to make other improvements that enhance mobility and safety.

Roosevelt Way NE from NE 65th Street to the south end of the University Bridge is slated for repaving in 2015, with construction currently scheduled to begin next summer and likely continue 2016. In addition to repaving the street, other project elements include:

  • Installation of curb bulbs at key intersections. Curb bulbs extend the sidewalk out, shortening the pedestrian crossing distance and making it easier for the crossing pedestrians and motorists to see each other
  • Replacement of substandard curb ramps to meet federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. (Curb ramps, generally located at intersections, slope from the sidewalk to street level to facilitate the movement of those in wheelchairs, the sight impaired using canes, or people pushing strollers or walking a bike.)
  • Installation of a protected one-way bike lane along the west side of Roosevelt Way from NE 45th south across the University Bridge. Cross hatch markings in the pavement along with posts between the bike and general traffic lanes will separate people riding bicycles from motorized traffic. To reduce the risk of collisions involving bicycle riders, SDOT is installing a temporary protected bike lane from NE 45th Street to NE 40th Street in December 2014/January 2015, weather permitting.

Existing Cross Section

Proposed Cross Section

Proposed Cross Section

Should additional funding be secured, the project will also:

  •  Replace buckled or broken sidewalks
  • Install bright, energy-saving LED street lights on the west side of Roosevelt

The public is invited to learn more about the project, as well as to ask any questions and/or express concerns at an open house to be held Monday, November 17, 5:30 – 7:30 PM.   The meeting will be held at University Heights Community Center, 5031 University Way NE, Room: 108. A project overview presentation will occur at 6:15 PM.

Seawall construction continues with marine mattress and zee panel installation

After installing the first seawall face panels along the waterfront south of Colman Dock, the Elliott Bay Seawall Project is continuing to build infrastructure and habitat enhancements in this area. Recently, marine mattresses, plastic mesh bags filled with stone, were installed along the new seawall panels. These provide a shallow water habitat for migrating salmon and other sea life as they travel along the seawall. Check out the snapshot video of marine mattress installation.

After the marine mattresses were put in place, zee panels were installed – a critical step in building the new seawall. These large, zee-shaped concrete panels provide a counterbalance and support structure for the new overhanging sidewalk. This activity was tidally influenced, so work was completed in the early morning hours while the tide was low.

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Row of installed zee panels south of Colman Dock

Work also continues between Pike and Madison streets, where activities include rip rap removal and steel sheet pile installation.

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

Neighborhood Street Fund Large Projects off and running!

S Othello Street AFTERTwelve Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) large projects were selected for funding in 2013, thanks to the voter-approved Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy. This was the third round of funding provided by BTG and approximately $4.5 million to community-based projects on a three-year cycle, was bolstered by an additional $1 million provided by the Mayor and City Council as part of the savings from the Spokane Street Viaduct Project, bringing the total funding available for this third and final round to $5.5 million. In addition, $2.9 million from the School Zone Camera Enforcement Program will be used to fund four NSF projects near schools. Projects were selected in 2013 will be designed in 2014 and constructed in 2015.

There are 12 projects in the NSF Program all will be completed by the end of 2015. Two projects, the West Duwamish Trail extension and one segment of Pioneer Square ADA improvements, are ahead of schedule and construction will begin in 2014.

Projects to be constructed in 2015:

  • Columbia City Sidewalk Repair:  Construction begins in the first quarter of 2015
  • Georgetown Festival Street:  Construction begins in the second quarter of 2015
  • Pedestrian Improvements (5 locations throughout Seattle):  Construction begins in first quarter of 2015
  • Historic District ADA Improvements: Ongoing through 2015. Some additional work may continue in to 2016 if grant funding is received.
  • Rainier Beach pedestrian improvements:  Construction begins in the fourth quarter of 2015
  • Greenwood Ave N sidewalks:  Construction begins in the second quarter of 2015
  • Rainier Ave S & S Dearborn Street pedestrian improvements: Construction begins in the second quarter of 2015

Each of these projects was submitted by community members to their District Councils for review and selection based on their importance to the community. Projects were then forwarded to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) for some initial design work and cost estimating.  Each project is then reviewed and evaluated by BTG Oversight Committee members and they then made a recommendation to the Mayor and Council. The full BTG Oversight committee bases their decision on the following factors:  geographic mix, “bang for the buck,” quality of life enhancement, safety considerations and, when appropriate, Pedestrian Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan criteria.

To learn more about the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Project program and details about the projects selected, please visit their website.

Future Northgate Connection for Bikes & Peds

Interstate 5 is a critical transportation corridor for Seattle. It helps move people and goods north and south through the center of our city, often at high speeds, unhindered by pedestrians crossing at intersections or bicyclists of various abilities in – or even alongside – the roadway.

Interstate 5 is also an immense obstacle to transportation in the east-west direction wherever the freeway is not lidded or elevated. Where a major arterial does cross, it often has both on- and off-ramps well suited to vehicles, but not particularly friendly for bicyclists or pedestrians.

A new Sound Transit light rail station will soon be built next to the existing King County Metro transit station at 1st Avenue NE and NE 100th Street. The need to connect this transportation hub to the west side of I-5 has become paramount, expressed in planning documents, by public feedback and via support for funding.

Caption:  Artist’s depiction of planned bridge looking west along NE 100th Street

Caption: Artist’s depiction of planned bridge looking west along NE 100th Street

SDOT has responded by planning a new 15-20 wide bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians across I-5 at 100th Street. It would include a ramp on either side to return users to ground level at a less than 5% incline and at least one stairwell on the east side. The bridge would make a direct connection to the mezzanine level of the new light rail station, and would also connect to a new cycle track along 1st Avenue NE.The basic alignment is now being established in consultation with WSDOT, Sound Transit, King County Metro and the North Seattle College (where the landing on the west side will be). The bridge type is also being determined, after which design will begin in earnest.

The planning level estimate for this project is $25M; the City of Seattle and Sound Transit have each agreed to provide $5M towards the cost if the remaining funding is identified by July 2015.

For more information about this project, please visit our project website:

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact: Art Brochet, Communications Lead (206) 615-0786 •

2014 Street Tree watering reaches 2,768 trees

2768.trees.wateredUrban Forestry crews are wrapping up this year’s street tree watering program that started in March.

Crews completed street tree inventory and watering route updates to make sure all the newly planted trees would be properly cared for through the summer months. They then placed irrigation bags at the base of all 2,768 trees SDOT planted these last three years.

Two crews were hired from Seattle Conservation Corps to water the trees in North Seattle and two SDOT crews watered the remaining trees.

As in previous years, Urban Forestry collaborated with Street Maintenance to utilize two 3000-gallon flusher trucks primarily used for applying deicer during the winter months. The capacity of these trucks allows each crew to water upwards of 200 trees per day.

UFwateringDaily watering started in June and continued through the end of September. In all, 37,492 bags were filled with over 749,000 gallons of water  to help get our newly planted trees established!

Crews are now in the process of retrieving all the bags, making repairs and packing them for storage to be used again next year. This work is expected to be completed in the next week or so.