Creating Safe, Sustainable, and People-friendly alleys

Alleys are an important part of Seattle history, from the narrow walkways weaving through Pioneer Square to the public stairways climbing our many hills.


View along Post Alley in the Market

Far more than just shortcuts, these paths have potential to become storefronts, celebrations, or play areas, and our Public Space Management team is here to help!

This U-District proposal called for adding lights, a bike rack, and other improvements to turn this alley off 42nd into a common space for the community.

This U-District proposal called for adding lights, a bike rack, and other improvements to turn this alley off 42nd into a common space for the community.

We’re supporting community led efforts throughout the city to re-claim, re-purpose, and beautify our alleys. This means improvements to lighting, creative art installations, shared seating, re-paving to better handle rainwater, and more.

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Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Fall has arrived in the northwest with rainy weather and shorter days. The darker and wetter season leads to more collisions on our our streets, so please be extra aware no matter how you get around.

Tonight, be extra mindful that Trick-or-Treaters will be out and about, and that the drizzly weather can affect visibility. Children-involved car/pedestrian collisions are nearly twice as likely to happen on Halloween than other days of the year, so it’s important that kids (and their parents) stay visible.

halloween night with pumpkin in grass tree bat and hunting house in background

The clock also turns back on Sunday, so the sun will start setting before 5 o’clock next week and it will be dark during the busiest hours of our commutes.

As part of our Vision Zero effort to improve safety and raise awareness, here are some important tips for traveling safely on Halloween and beyond:
• Make good decisions when you walk, bike, or drive. Don’t drive distracted (anything from talking on your cell phone to adjusting your costume) and make sure you have a safe way to get home if you plan to drink.
• Take it slow on our streets. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. With speed, the frequency and severity of collisions increases.
• Pay attention. Every intersection is a legal crosswalk – whether there are pavement markings or not – so drivers should stop for pedestrians. Pedestrians should cross the street at intersections or crosswalks where drivers expect to see you.
• Be visible. Take extra measures to ensure you can be seen when you walk and bike on our streets. Wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective gear so drivers can spot you.


Remember that we all just want to get to get to the candy safely. Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

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Move Seattle Trees: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!

You may remember that back in July we told you that SDOT would be doing a large majority of our tree planting this fall. The darker mornings and rain on our windshields can only mean one thing: it’s time to plant some trees.


SDOT crews were in West Seattle last week in the 9000-9200 blocks of 13th Ave SW, 14th Ave SW, 15th Ave SW planting about 25 new trees in the neighborhood. Once in the ground and supported with stakes, trees are good for the entire winter. Our crews will visit the trees next spring and put bags at the base of the tree to make sure they stay well-hydrated throughout the summer.


Approved by voters in 2015, the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle also requires SDOT to replace every tree removed with two new trees. So far, SDOT has already planted 84 new trees like this one above – a dawn redwood. Residents can look forward to greener streetscapes and anyone traveling through Seattle will be able to breathe a little easier thanks to the many benefits our urban canopy provides.


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Construction Hub Coordination in Action

When multiple construction projects are working close to one another, our Construction Hub Coordination Team steps in to minimize their collective impact on mobility. Just this week, we brought contractors together to keep pedestrian access open along Dexter Ave.


Looking southwest along Dexter

While completing work that makes the sidewalk next to their site too dangerous for pedestrians, Mill Creek Residential has temporarily closed the sidewalk on the west side of Dexter. During this closure, a pedestrian detour has been provided on the opposite side of the street. But when BNBuilders, working on the east side of the street, also reached a point in their project where they needed to close the sidewalk, our Hub team stepped in to help the two projects coordinate. Recognizing that closing the sidewalk on both sides of the street was not an option, the project teams met onsite with our Hub coordinator to find an agreeable solution. In the end, Mill Creek agreed to adapt the right of way on their side of the street to accommodate a pedestrian path, while BNBuilders funded the installation of barriers to protect pedestrians walking the new route.

By working together, SDOT and the construction project teams were able to maintain uninterrupted pedestrian access on Dexter, while also keeping both projects on schedule. This is just one example of how our Hub Coordination Team works to keep the public moving, makes it easy for contractors to be good neighbors, and provides for public safety.

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Growing Vine Street

SDOT is collaborating with the Growing Vine Street team to install a new public space in Belltown!

This Pavement to Parks project is part of the SDOT Adaptive Streets program and will use low-cost materials to repurpose part of Taylor Ave between 5th Ave and Denny Way for the “headwaters” of the Growing Vine Street project.


The pavement is painted from a bird’s eye view of a dense tree canopy with waters running beneath it. Concrete wash out bins, typically used on construction projects to protect stormwater, will be used as large planters. Tables, chairs and umbrellas will also be placed on site once the installation is complete.20161020_160604

Pavement to Parks projects are temporary installations, then we monitor over a two year period. If these spaces are deemed successful by the community, they can then be made permanent.

SDOT and the Growing Vine Street team hosted a community event this summer and received unanimous support for this project. SDOT also went door to door to neighboring businesses and residents, and received positive feedback. The concept builds off years of planning to repurpose this underutilized street space into a community open space.

Come see the street transformation in progress!

For more information on the Adaptive Street Program, please visit:

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Seattle Joins Transportation for America’s Smart Cities Collaborative

Seattle has been selected to join Transportation for America’s (T4A) new smart cities collaborative, a joint effort to engage cities in developing efficient and affordable transportation options for all.

Over the coming year, we will work with fifteen other cities to tackle the challenges related to implementing smart city policies and projects. Seattle was selected from nearly 60 cities that applied to join the collaborative.


Member cities will focus on three areas:

  • Automated vehicles, and their potential impact on urban transit systems, congestion, transportation equity, and the environment.
  • Shared mobility, and how it could help cities provide equitable, affordable, and more sustainable transportation choices.
  • Performance measures and data analytics, and how to use data to manage complex transportation networks and achieve transit equity and environmental goals.

Seattle will participate in a variety of information-sharing meetings, with other member cities and with industry-leading transportation experts. We’ll also receive direct technical assistance, create pilot programs and share results with the rest of the group to drive best practices across the country.

Some of the projects that we’re excited to share include:

  • National leadership in shared mobility planning and strategy development.
    • Example: Seattle eliminated caps on the number of free-floating car sharing vehicles that can operate in the city.
  • Car share equity pilots that reduce the barrier to entry for low-income individuals, immigrant populations and communities of color.

The collaborative is the result of a partnership by T4A and Sidewalk Labs. The partnership builds on T4A’s experience collaborating with state and local governments to develop forward-looking transportation and land-use policy, combined with Sidewalk Labs’ expertise working with cities to develop digital technology that solves big urban problems.

The collaborative’s first meeting will be in Minneapolis on November 9-10, 2016.

Other participating cities:

Austin, TX; Denver, CO; Boston, MA; Centennial, CO; Chattanooga, TN; Lone Tree, CO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; Madison, WI; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Nashville, TN; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; San Jose, CA; Washington, DC.

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Levy to Move Seattle Dashboard Delivers Transparency and Accountability

The $930 million Levy to Move Seattle approved by Seattle’s voters last November brought much needed funding for congestion relief, transportation-related safety improvements, and maintenance and repair of Seattle’s roads and bridges.  It also brought an expectation that SDOT would provide ongoing transparency and accountability for how these funds are spent and that promises made in the levy would be kept.

The Levy to Move Seattle dashboard, which went online in August, does this by tracking over 40 levy accomplishments and outcome-based performance measures.


Snapshot of the Move Seattle Dashboard.

For example, the dashboard shows that the Levy has funded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) projects at 8 Seattle public schools so far, with a goal of 81 public school SRTS projects to be funded by the year 2025.


New levy-funded paved trail on Beacon Hill that gives kids a safer place to walk and bike to and from Mercer Middle School.

The viewer can dive into the interactive website and assess ongoing progress, find out if promised deliverables are still on track, easily connect to other related websites, and read narratives about specific aspects of the levy.

The Levy to Move Seattle dashboard is updated quarterly. Check out the dashboard right here!


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Microsurfacing Covers 33% more Streets than Last Year

We’ve wrapped up work on this year’s extensive microsurfacing program! Microsurfacing is a protective seal coat that extends the life of pavement – and we’ve covered more lane miles than ever!

In July and August, 63 lane miles of streets were microsurfaced in 10 Seattle neighborhoods – that’s a 33% increase in lane miles from last year. That means more than 6,500 homes and businesses now have a rejuvenated road surface in front of their property. When the program started in 2013, just 12 lane miles were microsurfaced, in 2014 the number grew to 27 lane miles, and in 2015 the project covered 43 lane miles.


Cost-effective street maintenance

Microsurfacing is a cost-effective method to renew the road surface. Much like painting a house, crews apply a thin, tough layer of asphalt emulsion, blended with finely crushed stone for traction, to the road surface. The treatment seals minor cracks and deformities, using a special coating that extends the life of the pavement by 7 to 10 years. The finished surface looks similar to regular asphalt. Once the asphalt is fully cured, crews restripe roads, crosswalks and other features.

For more information about microsurfacing, including a video of how it’s done, click right here.

Thank you to all the neighbors for your patience and understanding during this work! We hope you enjoy the newly microsurfaced streets.

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Be Prepared for Stormy Weekend

A storm is sweeping through Seattle this weekend. Although we don’t know exactly how strong it’ll be, we are recommending that everyone be extra cautious, and if possible avoid commuting, during this inclement weather.


If you notice a downed powerline, DO NOT touch or approach it. Please report downed wires or outages to Seattle City Light at 206-684-7400.

If you notice blocked gutters, we could use your help in clearing them of leaves and debris to keep the 80,000 storm drains throughout our city flowing smoothly. Please report flooding issues to Seattle Public Utilities at 206-386-1800.

If you are planning to go to one of our city’s many parks, you may want to make new plans. All green athletic fields in Seattle will be closed, and additional parks programs/facilities may be impacted throughout the weekend.

If you notice fallen trees or other debris blocking streets or sidewalks, contact SDOT at 206-386-1218

If you can’t avoid traveling this weekend, a few pieces of advice:

Rainy DayFirst, as wind gusts get stronger there is a strong possibility of rolling power outages including traffic signals. Please treat dark signals as all-way stops.

Second, if you’re getting around by foot or by bike, wear high visibility clothing/lights or if you’re driving, be sure to turn your headlights on.

Third, and this goes for everyone, expect traffic to move a bit slower, and don’t try to rush in the rain!

For information on planning for the winter storm season, like what you should include in your emergency preparedness kit, check out Take Winter By Storm, our multi-agency preparedness site. For the latest emergency notifications, sign up for Alert Seattle to get alerts via text, tweet, and more.


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New Curb Bulbs at Burke-Gilman Trail Pop with Colorful Design

The Burke-Gilman Trail is getting a burst of color at the once grey intersection with 40th Ave NE.

With just a bit of paint, street markings, and posts, we can create low-cost curb bulbs where data and community members tell us traffic safety is a concern. Curb bulbs are effective at reducing the number and severity of traffic collisions by increasing the visibility of vulnerable users – people walking and biking – and decreasing the distance they have to travel to get across the street.


New curb bulb at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Northeast Seattle Greenways and Seattle Children’s Hospital teamed up and were winners of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways PARK(ing) Day Plus design competition in 2015 for their original design of painted curb bulbs at this location.

We then went to work to make the design permanent.

How do we decide what colors to use to really make them stand out? For this crossing, we wanted to let people in the neighborhood help decide colors and design.


We used this ballot to ask residents and trail users which design they preferred. The option with blue circles won the informal contest.


The installation started with laying down colorful thermoplastic, which we blasted with propane torches to make it stick to the concrete. Then we added new posts and signs.


Laying out and trimming the new street marking material at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“Bringing color and pattern to the ground plane elevates and enlivens an ordinary bit of city infrastructure,” says Kristen Ramirez, who manages public art projects for SDOT and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. One result of the new curb bulbs design, she said, is to “bring pause or wonder to people passing by. The circle pattern could evoke many ideas: ripples on water, constellations, textile patterns, and more.”

It isn’t just an artistic statement though.

Traffic engineering and safety work uses bright colors and patterns, which this project has in spades, to grab driver’s attention and communicate that there are people walking and biking. Extending the curb into the street reduces the width of the travel lanes, which causes people to slow down.

Supported by traffic studies showing that curb bulbs increase yielding to pedestrians, these improvements are one of the many tools in our Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Seattle by 2030.

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