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How do I keep people from blocking my driveway?

Does that sound familiar to you? It does to us – we get plenty of calls about that problem. There is something you can do about it and it’s on the books!

Seattle Municipal Code 11.72.110 – Driveway or alley entrance “No person shall stand or park a vehicle in front of a public or private driveway within a street or alley or in front of or in an alley entrance or within five feet (5′) of the end of a constructed driveway return or alley entrance return, or if none, within five feet (5′) of the projection of the edge of the driveway or alley.”

Seattle Municipal Code 11.72.120 – Driveway – Painted curb “The prohibited area for driveway returns described in Section 11.72.110 may be maintained with traffic yellow paint by the property owner or occupant.”

You can mark the  curb adjacent to your driveway as shown in this diagram:

yellow curb.jpg RESIZE


You can obtain Traffic Yellow paint at paint stores, but not at hardware stores. Furthermore, cars parked within the 5 foot distance of a driveway can be ticketed and towed.


Ain’t No Party Like a Bridge Party Because a Bridge Party Brings Us Together!

Don’t forget — Monday June 30th, the South Park Bridge reopens to traffic! Come celebrate the grand opening on Sunday June 29th!

After three years of construction King County will open the new South Park Bridge to vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. The old bridge was closed to traffic because it was no longer safe to remain open. After an unprecedented effort that brought together community members, business partners, and government at the local, regional, state, and national levels, the new South Park Bridge is receiving its finishing touches. Designed to resemble its iconic predecessor, the new bridge was built to modern standards and should last a hundred years.

So now is the time for food, fun, and fireworks!

Sunday, June 29

  • 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. — Street party: music & performances, info booths, self-guided tours of the bridge’s south tower, food & drink
  • 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. — Dedication ceremony with elected officials & community leaders; fireworks
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Parade
  • 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. — Lucha Libre; street party continues

Monday, June 30

  • 6:00 a.m. – Bridge opens to all traffic

More PARTY info here.


Alley Activation Creates New Pedestrian Friendly Venues

Crowd enjoys watching World Cup in Nord Alley. Photo courtesy of SounderBruce

Crowd enjoys watching World Cup in Nord Alley. Photo courtesy of SounderBruce

Many in Seattle have been swept up in the excitement of the World Cup. The Seattle Times even ran a front page picture of several hundred soccer fans watching one of the first World Cup games in Nord Alley down in Pioneer Square several weeks ago.

The non-profit International Sustainability Institute (ISI), working in collaboration with the Alliance for Pioneer Square, expects to show 22 of the World Cup matches in Nord Alley this year. This is just the latest example of the alley activation effort that began in Pioneer Square back in 2008 when ISI’s Executive Director moved the organization into the adjoining Nord Building. The City had just removed dumpsters from Pioneer Square alleys in an effort to improve the aesthetics and safety of the alleys, and he envisioned taking it further with a more active use of the alley adjacent to the building.

The group’s efforts led to the first public Nord Alley event in October 2008, when several hundred people enjoyed an evening of food, art, and music. In 2010, the group received a grant to install metal art panels onto which other artists could then install their art. A bicycle repair shop opened in the alley, providing yet another way to activate Nord Alley.

A 2009 contest, cosponsored with SDOT, asked people what they would like to see in Nord Alley, which in turn led to the showing of a number of the 2010 World Cup soccer matches. Showings of the Tour de France followed, along with numerous musical performances and artist displays (many in conjunction with Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Walks).

Canton Alley in the Seattle Chinatown International District.

Canton Alley in the Seattle Chinatown International District.

The alley activation success in Pioneer Square attracted the interest of the Seattle Chinatown International District Public Development Authority (SCIpda), who had a similar vision for their own Canton Alley. While SCIpda was the main driver, the Chinatown Historic Alley Partnership (CHAP), a group of community stakeholders, was formed to guide the effort and broaden community support and involvement.

Historically, Canton Alley has served as a hub of commercial, residential, and community based activities. As part of the recent alley reactivation effort, CHAP worked closely with local property and business owners and the Business Improvement Area to implement the City’s Clear Alley Program, removing dumpsters from the right of ways.

For Canton Alley, located right next to the Wing Luke Museum, CHAP envisions street pavers running down the middle of alley, with lanterns hanging from the adjacent buildings. The community’s long term goal is to bring businesses back into the currently vacant storefronts to help draw in more foot traffic. Like its Pioneer Square neighbor, Canton Alley serves as an ideal location for established popular International District outdoor events, and has hosted numerous community events in the last three years, including Dragon Fest, Jam Fest, and alley parties.

SDOT stepped up its own support for alley activation with the 2011 SDOT Director’s Rule creating the designation of “festival streets” that permits the use of a single year-long street use permit for multiple pedestrian friendly events. Nord and Canton alleys are two of the three streets to have obtained the designation.

This pregame shot provides a good example of typical alleyway road surface issues that SDOT will address. Photo courtesy SounderBruce

This pregame shot provides a good example of typical alleyway road surface issues that SDOT will address. Photo courtesy of SounderBruce

For only $800,000-$900,000 (including both design and construction) it is expected that both alleys will be repaved in the second quarter of 2015. By this time next year, both are expected to be alive with activity, and serving as examples of how alleys can be valuable community resources and how neighborhood groups can work with SDOT and other City departments to create a more livable and vibrant community.




City launches first Freight Master Plan!


Photo courtesy Seattle Art Institute - Revolution Studios.

Photo courtesy Seattle Art Institute – Revolution Studios.


Curious how online purchases are delivered? Or what routes trucks take through the city? Interested in the impact local industries have on our economy? Well, you’re in luck. This month the city kicked-off its first ever Freight Master Plan (FMP). The announcement was made at the June Seattle Freight Advisory Board meeting to applause and cheers. The plan will address the unique characteristics, needs, and impacts of freight mobility. It will help us understand why freight is so important to the city and the region, examine the challenges to moving freight, and develop solutions to addressing these challenges.

The plan itself will include an existing conditions report to give us a sense of the current state of freight. We will then develop a policy framework to help guide the vision for freight mobility and identify near- and long-term improvements , design guidelines, and a data-driven implementation strategy. The plan will also consider how the freight network could be updated based on where trucks are actually traveling and in relation to other transportation modes and priorities.

We will be working closely with the freight community this summer and begin broader community engagement this fall. We anticipate completing the plan by fall 2015. Learn more at:, or contact Sara Zora at (206) 733-9973 or

Seattle has how many miles of sidewalk?


New sidewalks along 85th – sidewalks connect our communities and provide safe alternatives to get from home to work or school or play.

New sidewalks along 85th – sidewalks connect our communities and provide safe alternatives to get from home to work or school or play.


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.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is committed to building sidewalks that make it easier to walk to the places we want to go. Thanks to Bridging the Gap (BTG),  SDOT is working to make these important connections and this year the department will construct seven blocks of new sidewalks. Project locations include:

  • North Beacon Safety Connections, including Beacon Avenue S and 14th Avenue S
  • 23rd Avenue S / S Walker Street, including S College Street and Rainier Avenue S
  • Delridge Way SW / SW Andover Street, including 23rd Avenue SW
  • Lake City Way/24th Avenue NE
  • Union Bay Place NE / NE Blakely Street, including 30th Avenue NE and 25th Avenue NE

Nearly two blocks have been completed so far this year, the remaining five blocks will be constructed over the summer and into early fall.

Over the first seven years of BTG more than 100 blocks of new sidewalk have been installed connecting neighborhoods to schools, businesses and transit. The nine-year goal of 117 new blocks of sidewalk is well within reach. As part of BTG, a Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) was developed. The PMP is a long-term action plan 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.

For information on the BTG sidewalk development program and their upcoming projects please visit their webpage. For information on SDOT’s Pedestrian program or the PMP please visit their webpage

For general information on BTG please visit our webpage.


Speed in a construction zone and your wallet will get thinner!

You may have noticed that throughout much of this month our blogs have focused on construction as June is truly the beginning of our heaviest construction season. Did you know that speeding in a construction zone could snag you a big fine or even jail time? Why you ask? Because of the strong potential for injury or death to the construction workers, the fine is doubled in the state of Washington and the penalty cannot be waived, suspended or reduced.  Furthermore, 15th 2RESIZEconstruction workers do not have to be present nor do signs have to be posted warning drivers of the enhanced fines.

So, what is the definition of a construction zone? It is any location where public employees or private contractors are doing construction, maintenance or repair work on or next to a public roadway. A fine can be implemented even if the workers are not present because the driving conditions are such that the zone is unsafe for driving at higher speeds. If a motorist drives in what could be considered a reckless manner  in a construction zone that could endanger a worker, that driver could be charged with reckless endangerment (RCW 9A.36.050) which us considered a gross misdemeanor. If found guilty, the drive may be given jail time in addition to the fine and suspension of the driver’s license.

We’re proud of our workers who are building safer road conditions for all of us and they, in turn, deserve safe working conditions.

For more information please see: Washington State Laws and Funds . For more on Negligent driving, please see RCW 46.61.524

Designing Streets for Safety

We here at the SDOT Blog frequently write about safety and street design. After all, safety is our top priority and “Safer Roadway Design for All” is a focus area in our Road Safety Action Plan. In just the past few weeks we’ve written about reducing speeds in school zones, comprehensive safety improvements on Northgate Way, and infrastructure enhancements both big and small. As the summer dry season kicks into gear, Seattle-ites can expect to see SDOT crews at work boosting safety across the city.

In the northeast part of Seattle, we’re in the midst of designing and installing a number of safety enhancements through the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project. Thanks in part to a grant from WSDOT and financing from our Bridging the Gap Transportation Levy, travelers along Lake City Way will notice significant changes over the next two years.

Crews completed enhancements at the two mid-block crossings of Lake City Way just north and south of NE 125th Street just this week. Signage has been upgraded and new flashing beacons were installed to help improve the visibility of these crossings. The new beacons, known as rectangular rapid flash beacons, have been shown to increase driver yielding at crosswalks significantly when compared to just warning signs and markings or traditional flashing beacons.

Recently installed rapid flash beacons

Recently installed rapid flash beacons

Read more »

Broadway Streetcar Goes Public


FHSC Ext staring at the dwesigns RESIZE DSC_2878

About a hundred people showed up last Tuesday evening, June 17,  for an open house on the Broadway Streetcar project, the first major public event since design work began in February. The open house, held at the Lowell Elementary School between 6 p.m. and  p.m., had staff and consultants arrayed throughout the room by display boards to answer questions – as well as by the obligatory coffee and cookies table.

FHSC Ext 3 peeps at easel RESIZE DSC_2898The first display board provided a map showing Seattle’s four streetcar lines: South Lake Union (completed in 2007), First Hill (starting operation later this year), Broadway (now in design, possibly opening late in 2016) and the City Center Connector (now in planning).

Other display boards focused on the timeline, the basic elements of the streetcar and the distinguishing features of the Broadway line. However, the main focus of public’s attention was the large plot showing the planned location of the streetcar track and the protected bicycle lane on Broadway north of Denny. The plot showed that parking had been preserved on both sides of the street except where left turn lanes were needed. It also showed where the station platforms are being planned and what the cross-section of the street at the platforms would look like (as well as between platforms).

FHSC Ext Easel two person shotRESIZE DSC_2903Two boards, one showing a terminus at East Roy Street and another showing the terminus at East Prospect Street were also shown, as the project team has yet to recommend one over the other.

Public reaction was generally favorable, with some concerns about the loss of even a limited number of parking spaces and others about the expense. Many attendees were excited about the extension of the protected bicycle lane along Broadway, but the most enthusiasm was for having a streetcar that would connect Broadway directly with First Hill, Pioneer Square and the Stadium District. Some folks even urged a future connection directly uphill from South Lake Union to Capitol Hill to complete a loop route!

Materials presented at the open house are available on the project website .   If you would like to comment, or if you have questions, feel free to email .

Schools Zones; Keeping it Slow, Keeping it Safe

Speed hump DSCN0168 RESIZEThis summer SDOT is installing speed humps in school zones at four schools in Seattle. (What’s a speed hump, you say? See our previous blog posting for the technical explanation). Lowering vehicle speed is one of the ways SDOT improves safety on the walking and biking routes to school. National studies show that a relatively small reduction in speed can make a big difference in safety for pedestrians. In Europe, speed humps are sometimes called “sleeping policemen” because they reinforce slower speeds and good behavior even at times when school is not in session, making schools and playgrounds more accessible to neighbors at all times of the day, throughout the year.

Research shows that speed humps are an effective tool not only at reducing speed but also at improving safety. The Institute of Traffic Engineers found a 13 percent reduction in collisions at locations where speed humps were installed. After SDOT installed speed humps near Graham Hill and Highland Park Elementary Schools, the percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour decreased by 80 percent at each school.

Speed hump and school bus DSCN0186 RESIZESpeed humps will be constructed on NE 130th Street near Olympic Hills School; on NE 80th Street near Thornton Creek School; on 30th Avenue NE near Eckstein Middle School; and on 30th Avenue SW near Roxhill School and Explorer Middle School. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of August, ready to serve school safety on the first day of school in September.

For more information about SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, please visit our website:

If you have questions or comments Safe Routes to School, please contact: Brian Dougherty, SDOT’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator by phone at 206-684-5124 or email at

Summer is here and SDOT crews are busy


N/NE Northgate Way and N 105th project is on target to wrap up this summer.

N/NE Northgate Way and N 105th project is on target to wrap up this summer.


The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on track to meet its 2014 goals for the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative. As summer begins, we have moved into the busy construction season and you can find work on BTG projects all across the city. SDOT has been busy paving roads, constructing new sidewalk, installing new signs and restriping roadway markings. BTG continues to make steady progress towards its nine-year goals.

This year, SDOT will complete two major paving projects – N 105th, N/NE Northgate Way and Holman Road – both projects are underway and will bring 17 new lane-miles of paving. And that’s not all, since January:

  • 15 new crossing improvements have been implemented and new pedestrian countdown signals installed at 40 intersections.
  • 263 new bicycle parking spaces and 14 miles of bike route signs have been installed. Crews have also inspected 40 miles of trails.
  • Three Safe Routes to School projects have been completed, 56 new curb ramps have been constructed and 11 school zones have been improved.
  • 444 new street trees have been planted so far this year and more than 457 have been pruned.

SDOT crews are also chipping away on much-needed maintenance work as well. Just this year, they have already replaced more than 1,558 regulatory traffic signs, installed new street name signs at 487 intersections, remarked more than 240 crosswalks and replaced 796 linear feet of poor guard rail.

During the seven and half years of the levy, the City has delivered on the promises made by Bridging the Gap. To date SDOT has paved 205 lane-miles of road, secured 50,000 new hours of transit service, constructed 100 blocks of new sidewalk, repaired 167 blocks of sidewalk, remarked 4,729 crosswalks, replaced 44,439 regulatory signs, installed school zone signage at 196 schools, replaced street name signs at 9,873 intersections, striped 150 miles of bike lanes and sharrows and planted 5,569 new street trees.

For more information about BTG and its goals and progress towards meeting those goals, please visit the BTG web page.