When Winter Storms Hit, We Have a Plan

In Seattle, winter can bring heavy rain, high winds, ice and snow. To help you prepare, we have winter weather tips, resources and helpful maps on our Winter Weather Home Page. To help us prepare, we’re using the latest technology to assess, monitor and respond to whatever mother nature throws our way.

  • Our staff follows weather reports 24 hours a day, all year long, with a direct line to the National Weather Service and live Doppler radar feeds.
  • We use a forecasting tool developed with the University of Washington called SNOWWATCH to learn how a storm will most likely affect different neighborhoods. This information helps determine where the crews will be needed first.
  • Our computerized sensors on city bridges and ground surface sensors provide timely and accurate air and roadway surface temperatures.


We take a proactive approach to inclement weather, preparing all year round to respond to snow and ice.

  • SDOT crews use trucks fitted with plows and salt-spreaders to keep major streets clear. Priority routes are shown on our snow route map.
  • When conditions allow, we pre-treat key streets and bridges with salt brine before the snow starts falling to help prevent ice from forming.
  • As the snow begins to fall, our crews continue to drive their routes, treating the roadway with salt brine or granular salt where needed. When approximately one inch of snow has accumulated, they begin plowing.
  • During a snow event, a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system tracks the locations of the trucks. The Winter Weather Response Map on SDOT’s website shows where the trucks are at the current time and also which streets the trucks have already serviced.
A loader redistributes salt after a new delivery has been received.

A loader redistributes salt after a new delivery has been received.

When Storms are Headed Our Way – We’re Preparing

We will plow major streets. These are the streets that are most important for getting to major public institutions such as hospitals and schools; the streets that are most frequently used by police, fire trucks and buses; and streets leading to Seattle’s major employers. We do not plow non-arterial streets.

  • We start preparing for winter in the summer, training staff, calibrating equipment and working with local agency partners.
  • When high winds or heavy rain are forecast, our crews are ready to remove fallen trees from the road, and to repair signs and signals.
  • Our supplies of granular salt and salt brine are ready to help keep ice from forming on main city streets and bridges.

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

For more information about winter weather preparation, see SDOT’s Winter Weather Home Page.

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Curb Ramp Map and Accessible Route Planner Now Live!

SDOT has launched a new online tool that provides valuable information for people using Seattle sidewalks, curb ramps, and street crossings. This tool is the City of Seattle Curb Ramp Map and Accessible Route Planner. It’s updated daily with data that can help people better plan their routes, particularly those of us living with disabilities. You can also find the map online from our SDOT home page under Resources/Getting Around Seattle.


City of Seattle Curb Ramp Map and Accessible Route Planner

The City of Seattle Curb Ramp Map and Accessible Route Planner identifies:

  • Sidewalks and curb ramps in the city. They are colored in a way to demonstrate either attribute features or whether it is in good, fair, or poor condition. This may help people plan alternate routes if sidewalks or curb ramps have not yet been built or may be older or in poor condition.
  • Street slope estimates. This may be particularly helpful for people using wheelchairs or other mobility assisting devices. If a street is too steep, it may be difficult for some people to use or may cause significant battery deterioration for electric wheel chairs.
  • Marked crosswalks and traffic signal locations. Some people may be looking for these when planning routes.
  • Transit facilities and bus stop locations are identified on the map as well as important facilities such as hospitals, libraries, schools, and community centers.

Map shows hospital and transit (streetcar line) in First Hill Area.

  • Sidewalk closures due to construction or temporary uses are identified.
  • Users can toggle between aerial photos or the standard City of Seattle Basemap.

Map shows standard Seattle Basemap along with assets and slopes.

This map has been created with the best information we have available. SDOT encourages users of this map to help us continually improve the map’s accuracy as well as to provide input on other information or data that may be useful to people planning their routes around Seattle. If you find a location or asset details that are not correctly identified, please contact us at SDOTAssets@seattle.gov with the asset location along with the missing information and photos. Requests for map features or asset information can also be emailed to this address.

If you have any questions about accessibility within the Seattle public right-of-way, we encourage you contact SDOT’s ADA Coordinator, Michael Shaw. He can be reached at (206) 615-1974 or by email at Michael.Shaw@seattle.gov.

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How Clearer Cameras Help Clear Streets

Constant innovation is central to our mission of building a more connected city, and SDOT’s Transportation Operations Center (TOC) is always looking for new ways technology can help. We use Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices to monitor traffic throughout the city, and then share information on incidents with the public through dynamic message signs (DMS), Twitter, and the Travelers Information Map (where you can see a live feed from cameras).

Over 40 traffic cameras, a key tool for confirming incidents, received a major upgrade in 2016 to give our TOC clearer video feeds and make identifying and reporting incidents easier. This improvement also helps first responders who monitor the feeds see what’s going on, plan ahead, and provide assistance more efficiently.


To better share this information with the public, we’ve also installed 6 additional dynamic message signs throughout the city to let motorists know of any ongoing issues and plan ahead.


At SDOT, we use the latest technological innovations to improve our ability to monitor, respond to, and share information about traffic incidents throughout Seattle. Our Intelligent Transportation Systems play a key role in creating a safe, efficient, innovative transportation system that works for all travelers, and we’ll be continuing to develop and upgrade systems next year in 2017. When people know what’s going on in real-time, they can make more informed travel choices.

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Collaboration to Improve Private Development Review

SDOT’s Street Use Division manages the City’s rights of way (ROW), regulating activities that impact safety, mobility and the environment. In these last few years of unprecedented growth, we’ve taken a more holistic approach to right-of-way management.

So, what if we took this idea even further, before conflicts exist? Coming in at the early design stage, we could reduce impact challenges for communities and planners. Enter the innovative Development Review Program. This new program starts with enhanced SDOT engagement during the early stages of private development projects. The chart below shows our previous practice versus SDOT’s new enhanced role. The improved coordination will help make private development review more thorough and efficient.ed-mup-edit

The program is in partnership with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) with SDOT increasing its engagement on development projects through the Master Use Permit (MUP) process. The MUP is a single permit that integrates all process, procedure, and review elements—and through this new collaborative City effort, will help ensure positive results. Development Review Program goals include:

  • Aligning private development with city priorities and multimodal operations
  • Providing high quality customer service with consistent information to the public and direction to developers
  • Identifying opportunities to better leverage private development for city transportation system improvements

Working together with the development community to design the city keeps it connected and vibrant— a better outcome for all!

If you’re interested in learning more about the effort, contact Sara Zora at sara.zora@seattle.gov.

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Move Seattle Wins in ST3

Voters in the Puget Sound region recently approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3), the $54 billion plan to fund light rail, commuter trains and bus-rapid transit.

While most of the attention was focused on 62 miles of light rail that will be added to our growing network (Seattle to Ballard and West Seattle), there are some early wins in the plan for the Levy to Move Seattle.

The approved funding package includes $65 million to improve speed and reliability of existing transit service in Seattle. $35 million will be dedicated to improving Seattle’s Rapid Ride C and D Lines. SDOT will work closely with Metro and Sound Transit to construct roadway, traffic signal and other improvements to both of these high ridership corridors.

The remaining $30 million of the funding will provide critical matching funds for the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project, another Move Seattle commitment and one of the seven future Rapid Ride corridors that will be constructed during the life of the 9-year levy.st3

ST3 also includes funding for a new light rail station at Graham Street in Southeast Seattle. The Levy to Move Seattle included $10 million to help build this important station and passage of the ST3 package will make this a reality for residents and commuters in this neighborhood. Additionally, ST3 includes funding for a station at 130th to improve light rail access in North Seattle.st3-2

ST3 also includes several million dollars for improved station access at our existing light rail stations to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. SDOT will be working with Sound Transit to identify and construct these projects and we will keep you updated as the planning for ST3 work progresses.

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Happy Thanksgiving from SDOT!

Happy Thanksgiving from SDOT!

City Offices are Closed November 24 and 25 in observance of the holiday.













Please enjoy the holidays wherever they take you.

On-street parking is free in Seattle on Thanksgiving Day, November 24.

Please remember that normal pay for street parking remains in effect on Friday, November 25, so make sure you observe time limits and other posted regulations as you would on any other Friday.

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Connecting the DoTS

SDOT held its last 2016 session of the Working With SDOT Outreach Event series, Connecting the Dots, at Seattle City Hall on October 20.


Event venue: Bertha Knight Landes Room, Seattle City Hall.

In collaboration with King County, Sound Transit and other local transportation agencies, the event connected more than 100 people with agency staff to discuss ways to better find and access contracting work opportunities within transportation public works. Highlights of the event included:

  • A panel discussion about the commonalities between the agencies denoting what information, processes, and experiences can be carried over to obtain work with other agencies
  • Information on upcoming Public Works opportunities from SDOT, Sound Transit, and King County
  • Technical assistance for the Seattle Online Business Directory, and other partner agency directory systems
  • Information on State of Washington Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) certification
  • Information on Bonding/Insurance from the USDOT Northwest Small Business Transportation Resource Center
  • An hour-long networking session

Attendees connecting with transportation agency staff.

SDOT’s Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (WMBE) Program, within the SDOT Office of Equity and Economic Inclusion, promotes equity in contracting through the inclusion of small and historically underutilized businesses on transportation projects. Mayor Murray affirmed the City of Seattle’s commitment to promote race and gender equity in contracting through Executive Order 2014-03 Equity in City Contracting.

This event was part of an ongoing series of targeted outreach initiatives for SDOT to increase the inclusion of WMBE firms. To learn more about the SDOT WMBE Program, contact Edson I. Zavala, Manager of the Office of Equity and Economic Inclusion at edson.zavala@seattle.gov or visit our website at: www.seattle.gov/transportation/oeei.htm.

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Moving More People Through Transportation Equity

More than 200 people turned out for a kickoff event to launch our Transportation Equity Program in partnership with Seattle Housing Authority (SHA). This event was part of a new initiative to promote transportation equity by helping people of all incomes access a full range of transportation options, such as ORCA LIFT cards, car sharing memberships and car tab rebates, among other resources.

20161118_174923The event was at the Rainier Vista housing community where we distributed:

It was a diverse crowd – people spoke a variety of languages including Vietnamese, Somali, Amharic, and English. Thank you to the Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods for offering interpretation services. Hopelink was also there to show residents hands-on training on how to use ORCA cards.

We will continue working with SHA to plan similar events at New Holly, Yesler Terrace, and other SHA residential properties.

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New Restricted Parking Zone and a Change in Hours for Capitol Hill

SDOT has considered input and is creating a new Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) on Capitol Hill which will be identified as RPZ  32. SDOT is also issuing a change in the hours of RPZ 15. The map below highlights the areas where parking restrictions are changing.

New RPZ: Zone 32 

Zone 32 signs will be installed on the green blocks in mid-2017. Residents in the gray area will receive a letter with instructions for obtaining a Zone 32 permit. The pink blocks will move from Zone 15 to Zone 32. Residents on these blocks will receive further communication about this change.

  • All residents within the gray area will be eligible for Zone 32 permits and guest permits
  • Permits are currently $65 per vehicle for a two-year cycle (discounted permits are available for income eligible households)
  • Zone 32 signs will limit parking for vehicles without Zone 32 permits to 2 hours Monday – Saturday, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Zone 32 signs will not be installed adjacent to commercial properties or ground floor retail


Zone 15

In response to resident feedback, SDOT will leave the 4-hour restriction in place in Zone 15, as opposed to the proposed 2-hour restriction. New Zone 15 signs will be installed on the purple blocks and orange blocks in Spring 2017. The new hours will go into effect at that time, limiting parking for vehicles without Zone 15 permits to 4 hours, Monday – Saturday, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. If you live on one of the new Zone 15 blocks identified in purple, you will receive a letter with instructions for obtaining a Zone 15 permit before any signs are installed.


SDOT and Sound Transit have been working together to manage on-street parking around the new Capitol Hill light rail station to prevent commuter parking. In July 2016, SDOT shared a plan for a new RPZ in the presently unrestricted area north of E Olive Way/E John St and west of Broadway. SDOT also proposed a change in Zone 15 hours to prevent commuter parking. Comments on the proposed plan were collected in July and September of 2016. Click here to see the mailer sent to residents.

SDOT does not change rates to generate new revenue. Per City policy, SDOT monitors parking conditions in and around all paid parking areas adjusts parking rates (up or down), and paid parking area boundaries and hours to achieve a target of keeping one or two parking spaces available on each block face at all times.


Contact capitolhillparking@seattle.gov or Ruth Harper at (206) 684 – 4103. Visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/parkingrpz.htm to see general RPZ program information.

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Remembering Those We’ve Lost

This week, Seattle is observing World Remembrance Day and commemorating the 240 people who died in traffic incidents over the past 10 years. On Thursday, families who have lost loved ones, city employees, and first responders gathered at City Hall at an event organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways for a public memorial with silhouette cut-outs to represent those we’ve lost.


SDOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Jim Curtin speaking at City Hall memorial 11/17

This Sunday, November 20, local Greenways coalition member groups will hold events throughout the city to install the silhouettes as a public reminder, and come together as a community to commit to doing better:

  • Ballard/Aurora/Fremont noon Peddler Brewing Company 1514 NW Leary Way
  • Beacon Hill/Mt. Baker 10AM The Station 2533 16th Ave S
  • Central/Capitol Hill noon Victrola Coffee Roasters 310 E. Pike St.
  • Crown Hill/Broadview noon Holy Grounds 9000 Holman Way NW
  • Downtown/Belltown 10AM Uptown Espresso 2504 4th Ave
  • Lake City/Northgate 10AM Kaffeeklatsch 12513 Lake City Way NE
  • Queen Anne/Magnolia 10AM Starbucks 2135 Queen Anne Ave N
  • Ravenna/Roosevelt 10AM Third Place Cafe 6504 20th Ave NE
  • West Seattle 10AM Ampersand Café 2536 Alki Ave SW
  • Rainier Valley 10:15AM Bike Works 3711 S Hudson St. (back entrance to warehouse)
  • Duwamish Valley noon Oxbow Park (Hat & Boots) 6430 Corson Ave S


As a city, we’ve committed to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through our Vision Zero initiative. These tragedies mostly aren’t “accidents,” but preventable incidents caused by poor behaviors and unforgiving roadway designs.

Earlier this month, we instituted lower speed limits – arterials in central Seattle were reduced from 30mph to 25, residential streets throughout the city from 25mph to 20 – an adjustment proven to increase crash survival rates. And over the last year, we’ve made significant investments in our Safe Routes to School program to make it easier and safer for students to walk and bike. These efforts were funded through the 2015 voter approved Levy to Move Seattle, which has supported safety and infrastructure improvements throughout the city.

By working with community groups, health-care professionals, university researchers, and local corporate partners, we can eliminate death and serious injuries on our streets.


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