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PARK(ing) Day Applications due in one week

Don’t let someone take your PARK(ing) Day spot! Applications are due at the end of the month…it’s quick, easy and (the best part) free to apply.

Parking Day

PARK(ing) Day happens once a year, on the third Friday in September—September 19 this year—and is an opportunity for any Seattleite to temporarily turn parking spaces into pop-up parks. The event raises awareness about important issues like creating a walkable, livable, healthy city and helps people re-think how our streets can be used.

To apply, first pick your parking spaces, and then fill out the simple and FREE application on our website. Check out our guidelines for some tips about planning your pop-up park. And most importantly, get your application turned in to by Friday, August 29.

These Seattleites are using on-street space in a whole new way!

For additional information about Seattle PARK(ing) Day, please visit

Once Around the Web: Safety First!

Summer is winding down (say it ain’t so!) but construction projects still abound around the city. This week, the New York State Department of Transportation released a new public safety announcement video that reminds motorists to slow down in work zones. It’s effective and sad and very worth watching.

“…they’re not just cones.”

Landscaping Seattle City Right of Way: a Math Problem

Do you ever drive down a landscaped Seattle street and wonder, “Why don’t they maintain that median?” or, “Wow, I love the landscaping along this road, it really makes the neighborhood.”

In Seattle, there are approximately 123 acres of landscaped public right of way and tree pits—with just 12 gardeners to maintain it all. That means the team must diligently prioritize workload. The number one priority is ensuring these areas are safe and provide accessibility as they were designed. That’s the goal whether the landscaping was installed in the 1960’s, like it was when the 15th Avenue NW and Nickerson Street interchange was being built, or newly installed, as with the Mercer  corridor improvements.

1960 Seattle Municipal Archives photo of Emerson Street Interchange; Nickerson Approach to bridge.

1960 Seattle Municipal Archives photo; Nickerson Approach to bridge.

Mercer Corridor construction and landscaping work in January 2014

Mercer Corridor construction and landscaping work in January 2014


The Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry gardeners are well-trained in current professional standards—several are Certified Professional Horticulturists and ISA Certified Arborists. Though the staff is knowledgeable and dedicated, it still comes down to a numbers game. The dozen SDOT Urban Forestry gardeners, supported by two irrigation specialists, are only able to reach about half of the landscaped areas each year for proactive maintenance.

Despite the challenge, the nimble team keeps multiple programs going (click on example photos below, for larger views): mowing for 6-8 months; leaf pick-up every fall; tree pit maintenance; landscape maintenance year-round; planting several hundred streets trees every spring and fall (funded by Bridging the Gap); and accent landscapes work, which is the more labor intensive flower beds featuring perennials and annuals.LANDSCAPE BEFORE & AFTER 021 Picture 0445TH AVE NE PHASE II 003 5TH AVE NE PHASE II 005 16th AVE SW MEDIANS 9.13 005

Some of the maintenance work, which focuses first on arterials, also requires traffic control like the recent work along Harbor Avenue SW (see photos below). The travel lane was shifted to the parking lane for six hours, each of three days last week, to ensure the workers were safe and to meet safety standards set by the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD. From Southwest Spokane Street to Southwest Florida Street, along Harbor Avenue, the team weeded and cut back plants to improve visibility and added mulch to suppress weed growth.HarborAve

 Above: Segment of Harbor Avenue during and after landscape maintenance
(click for larger view)

So far this year SDOT Urban Forestry has recycled over 430 cubic yards of wood chip mulch back into landscapes. This mulch suppresses weeds, conditions the soil, retains soil moisture and reduces the need for herbicides. It’s important maintenance, and it’s needed all over the city.

A volunteer Tree Ambassador recants how history has shaped the trees in Seward Park during a recent Tree Walk.

A volunteer Tree Ambassador recants how history has shaped the trees in Seward Park during a recent ReLeaf Program Tree Walk.

The math starts to work out when volunteers become involved. SDOT relies on the community to help alert us to issues in landscaped areas we are unable to attend to; and on neighborhoods to help with litter pickup, weeding and group work parties. Seattle’s ReLeaf Tree Ambassador Program, a Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities joint project, is there to train volunteers who are interested in leading landscape maintenance events in their neighborhoods.

Recently, a volunteer group organized by the Tree Ambassador Program, helped weed and mulch over 25 tree pits along Martin Luther King Jr Way near the Rainier Beach Transit Station. On August 9, a group of 16 volunteers working at N 46th Street and Aurora Avenue N (pictured below), removed 10 bags of garbage and 5 yards of weeds; freed 4 large conifers from strangling ivy; and laid down fresh mulch.


Volunteers gathered at N 46th St and Aurora Ave N to address maintenance needs


Similar work took place again this past weekend, on August 16, on Beacon Hill at Beacon Avenue S and 15th Avenue S. Want to be part of the equation? Add to the crew and make a winning solution this Saturday, August 23, in Rainier Beach:


When volunteers join forces with the dedicated gardener dozen, and the irrigation specialists give the plantings what they need to survive—the City starts to look pretty vibrant.

If you like solving math problems, help us solve for X:

(12 Gardeners) + (2 Irrigation Specialiats) + (X Volunteers) = 123 well-kept acres

Want to get your number in the game?

Thank you Seattle!






Bridging the Gap Annual Report!

The 2013 Bridging the Gap (BTG) Annual Report is now complete and available on-line. 2013 was the seventh year of the levy program and was once again a successful year for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). BTG programs are helping to make Seattle smoother, easier to navigate and more vibrant! You can view the report on-line here.


BTG is a nine-year, $365 million levy that begins to address twenty years of deferred maintenance caused by chronic under-funding of the transportation infrastructure. Approved by voters in 2006, BTG enables much-needed work by SDOT, such as roadway paving, sidewalk development and repair, bridge upkeep, and tree pruning and planting. It also supports the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master plans, the Safe Routes to School program, enhanced transit connections and large Neighborhood Street Fund projects.

Bridging the Gap work is supported by an appointed citizens’ Levy Oversight Committee that meets quarterly. This 15-member body monitors revenues and expenditures, and reviews program and project schedules to provide full accountability to voters on BTG activities. A list of committee members can be viewed on their webpage.

Visit the Bridging the Gap web page to view the 2013 Annual Report.

How to Make Your Street A Play Street

Ever wish you could temporarily close the street in front of your house so kids (and adults!) in your neighborhood could play freely and safely? Now you can!

On May 30 of this year, Seattle’s first Play Street took place as part of the new Pilot Play Streets program. Since then, Play Streets have been popping up all over Seattle, giving communities more room to play, exercise, have fun and get to know their neighbors.

So what exactly is a Play Street? In short, it’s whatever you want it to be.

Play Streets are neighborhood streets that are temporarily closed to traffic and opened up for a wide variety of activities. What you and your neighbors do in your Play Street is up to you! Possible activities include dance parties, hopscotch, jump rope, basketball, chalk art projects, potlucks, yoga, street hockey, unstructured playtime — you get the idea.

Ballard residents made the sign shown here to raise awareness of their recurring Play Street…


Want to make YOUR street a Play Street?

The first thing to do is to make sure the street you have in mind will have clear visibility from intersections at each end.

Play Streets can only be one block long and must be on a non-arterial (see this map to determine if your street is a non-arterial).

Next, talk to all of your neighbors and see if they want to join you in setting up a Play Street. Then, if everyone is on board, fill out your free application here!

Play Streets can be set up as a one-time event (i.e. street dance) or can be recurring (see photo above). So, meet your neighbors, break out the soccer balls and squirt guns, and set up your very own Play Street!

SDOT Proposes Changes to SW Roxbury Street

SW Roxbury Street is located along the Seattle city limits and traverses parts of West Seattle, White Center, and Highland Park. The roadway serves a number of purposes – from providing access to transit and schools to facilitating regional travel by connecting to roads like State Route 509. High speeds have been documented on the corridor and there have been hundreds of collisions and injuries over the past three years. With local community councils on board, SDOT launched a process to identify the issues and develop solutions earlier this year.

Typical view of Roxbury. SDOT and KC Roads will build proper sidewalks in this location.

Typical view of Roxbury. SDOT and KC Roads will build proper sidewalks through this project.

On July 31st, SDOT held the first of two open houses to discuss potential changes for SW Roxbury Street. Proposals were based on traffic data and feedback obtained during public outreach that has taken place since February 2014. SDOT has recommended a variety of treatments intended to address specific collision patterns, high vehicular speeds, a less-than-ideal pedestrian environment, and pavement issues. The goal: to improve safety for all roadway users: pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

A complete overview of the proposals can be found on the project webpage and we’ll highlight a few today on the Blog.

Read more »

Microsurfacing in Arbor Heights begins Monday

How does SDOT maintain Seattle’s streets? One way is through a process called “microsurfacing,” which extends the life of asphalt surfaces in good condition. The process includes applying a thin emulsion to create a protective seal on the road’s surface. This “seal coat” better withstands regular wear and prevents the need for larger, more expensive road repairs in the future.

A crew applies a microsurfacing emulsion to a residential street in the Wedgwood neighborhood

A crew applies a microsurfacing emulsion to a residential street in the Wedgwood neighborhood


The Arbor Heights neighborhood of West Seattle is the most recent to receive this microsurfacing treatment. SDOT crews have spent 4,000 work-hours since last fall preparing targeted asphalt streets in the area by filling pot holes, sealing pavement cracks and making other spot repairs. The microsurfacing itself will take place beginning Monday, August 18, and will be staggered over the area for the next seven to eight weekdays. Since the emulsion requires several hours to dry and harden after application, the road will remain closed for two to four hours. Although inconvenient, residents have been asked to leave their vehicle on the next block over on the days their own street will be microsurfaced, or avoid driving that day. Additionally, residents should avoid walking on or bringing pets onto the roadway until the sealant dries.

Arbor Heights Microsurfacing Project


Even though weather dependent, the work is expected to be complete before Labor Day. To learn more, visit our Microsurfacing Program or 2104 Microsurfacing Project web pages. If you still have questions about the project, contact Art Brochet at

Rainier Valley Summer Streets this Saturday!

The seventh annual Rainier Valley Summer Streets is this Saturday, August 16, 1:30 to 5:30 PM along Rainier Ave S from S Alaska to S Brandon streets in Columbia City.

Summer Streets turns a space that’s normally used by cars into a place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. It’s about opening up the city’s largest public space– our streets – for people to walk, bike, and play in. And it’s pretty amazing to see and experience all the creativity, neighborhood pride, and smiles that follow.

This little guy had a great time rocking out last year.

This little guy had a great time rocking out last year.


There’s a lot to look forward to on Saturday. The Rainier Valley Heritage Parade takes place from Noon to 1:30 PM. Plus, this year, the Seattle Police Foundation will be hosting their South Precinct Picnic as a part of Summer Streets, right on Rainier Avenue, between S Dawson and S Brandon streets! Mayor Murray will be marching in the parade and plans to make remarks at the picnic around 2 PM (alongside Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole) and at the Summer Streets Edmunds St. Stage around 2:30 PM.

But wait, there’s more!  Saturday’s events are part of an even bigger Rainier Valley Culture Fest Weekend. So be sure to check out the Othello Park International Festival on Sunday.

Check out the event activity map for a full list of Summer Streets participating businesses and organizations. Here’s a taste of the many free and family-friendly activities you’ll find:

  • Try out a pop-up (temporary) protected bike lane and check out a parklet
  • Ride over to B!kecitement Street in front of Bike Works
  • Get a refresher on the rules of the road and enter to win a $200 transit pass
  • BBQ cooking and pie eating contests
  • Art in the alley and live music
  • Balloon artists and a bouncy house
  • And much, much more!

Rainier Valley Summer Streets wouldn’t be possible without the support and partnership of the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce, Columbia City Business Association, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Police Department, and the broader Rainier Valley community. Thank you, partners!

Hit the trails! BTG provides new trails and trail maintenance for a more vibrant Seattle

The Bradford Street  connection used to be a steep, dirt trail.

What is now the Bradford Street Connector used to be a steep, dirt trail, shown in this “before” photo,  from 43rd Avenue South to Genesee Park in the Mount Baker neighborhood.

Now the Bradford connector is a smoothly paved trail segment with a switchback to reduce the grade.

The Bradford Street Connector, a BTG project,  is a smoothly paved trail  with a switchback to reduce the grade, providing easy access to Genesee Park and Lake Washington.

One essential element of making it easier to move around in Seattle is the installation and maintenance of the bicycle and pedestrian trail system across the city. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters in 2006, more than four miles of new trail have been constructed and annual trail maintenance performed by the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Trail segments constructed include: the Burke Gilman Extension along Shilshole, the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle, the Lake Union Ship Canal Trail on the south side of the canal, the Bradford Street Connector in the Mount Baker neighborhood, and the Burke Gilman-Magnuson Park Spur. These segments help make connections to the larger network of trails in the city and across the region providing key links between neighborhoods.

While building the trail system is the first step, maintaining it is the second step! Bridging the Gap provides funding to help inspect the trails and make necessary spot improvements to keep them in working order. Since 2007, SDOT has inspected more than 176 miles of trail and made more than 173 spot improvements. Spot improvements include things like patching broken pavement, restoring missing signs, trimming trees, landscaping and general trail repair. In 2014, SDOT crews will inspect 40 miles of trail and make 10 spot improvements to keep us moving along smoothly!

Bridging the Gap is making Seattle a more vibrant city through improvements to roads, sidewalks, bike facilities and key improvements to key transit routes, all of which make it easier to navigate from one place to another using a variety of modes. For more information on Bridging the Gap, please visit SDOT’s Bridging the Gap Web page.

2014 Parklets Construction Update

As Seattle’s Pilot Parklet Program heats up, pedestrians around Seattle are finding new places to cool off, relax and take in the city around them.

In case you aren’t familiar with Seattle’s new Parklet Program, parklets are a way for people to transform underutilized parking spaces into dynamic park spaces that can be used by the public in a variety of ways.

Right now, there are just two completed parklets in Seattle, one outside Montana Bar in Capitol Hill and the other outside Oasis Tea Zone in the International District. But this is soon to change as these two pioneering parklets have inspired a number of other businesses and organizations to dream up designs for parklets in their own neighborhoods. Of the many submissions, 13 parklet proposals have been selected to move forward as part of this year’s pilot program – three of these will likely be completed by the end of this month! We expect the remaining 10 will be soon to follow.

The next three parklets to be completed are the Cortona Café parklet in the Central District (2425 E Union St), the City Hostel Seattle parklet in Belltown (2327 2nd Ave), and the Chromer Building parklet in Downtown (1516 2nd Ave). Check out the plans for each of these parklets below, and get ready for their unveilings over the next several weeks! To see if there is a parklet planned for your neighborhood, check out this map.















Below: CITY HOSTEL PARKLET DESIGN (image courtesy of Boxwood)



















At the end of this year, after Seattleites have had some time to get acquainted with their new spaces, the Pilot Parklet Program will conduct an evaluation to determine how effectively the program compliments and enhances the public’s enjoyment of Seattle’s streets. If the program seems to be a good fit, parklets will likely become a permanent part of Seattle’s public space programming, and more of Seattle’s businesses and neighborhood groups will have the chance to build parklets for their own communities.

Given the success of the city’s first two parklets, we expect that the Parklets Program will continue to grow, and that Seattle will soon be home to an even wider network of new, innovative and inspiring public spaces. If you visit a parklet in the next few months, and feel so inclined, send us a photo or a few words to tell us what you think about your city’s new parklets!