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Helping contractors and developers be good neighbors

Crane soaring above 5th Avenue and Columbia Street downtown

Crane soaring above construction at 5th Avenue and Columbia Street downtown

Our city is developing at a rapid pace, as most people can tell just walking around Seattle.  There’s no shortage of cranes soaring up into the air or scaffolding erecting up from the ground. The development and population boom is not expected to end anytime soon; and though some say a growing city is better than a dying one, growth challenges remain. To help keep pace with the growth surge and stay ahead of impacts our construction management and coordination approach is changing; with continued improvements that help contractors and developers to be good neighbors in the communities they impact.


We now assess all public and private construction holistically in areas where development is highly concentrated (construction hubs) often leading to pre-construction or on-site changes that significantly improve access. An example is work with a contractor at 2nd and Pike downtown to create better bicycle access. Sellen Construction agreed to modify the construction plan and build a protected 2-way bike path so that cyclists did not have to abruptly merge with motor vehicle traffic or dismount through heavy pedestrian traffic. Modifications like that happen often in hub areas where the city has site coordinators assessing impacts almost daily. We also keep lines of communications open, open, open – meeting regularly with contractors; posting hub area  construction information online.


Bike lane solution at 2nd & Pike downtown

Bike lane solution at 2nd & Pike downtown

The long-term goal is to have consistently prepared permit applicants and well-coordinated construction projects before problems ever have a chance to set in. To get there SDOT is continuing to evolve, working with contractors and developers earlier in the pre-construction phase. We are also providing new tools to identify and reduce potential impacts to surrounding neighborhoods and make it easy to do the right thing. The following improvements are now in place or coming later this month:


  • Construction Management Plan (CMP) template and guide—Now required for projects that significantly impact public right of way; requires plan for entire course of a project for traffic management, noise mitigation, pedestrian circulation, parking, etc..
  • Multiple Site Plan Templates—Available both online and at the counter to support thorough assessment and management of construction use of the right of way.
  • Online permit applications—Fillable PDF forms designed to be more intuitive and interactive.
  • One-on-one Pre-Application Appointments—Now available for complex permit applications.
  • Channelization Sketch Map—Online tool to help permit applicants create Traffic Control Plans; launching August 31, 2015 along with the following elements:
    • Project Summary Correction Notice—Comprehensive early project planning assessment to help identify and resolve problems.
    • Streamlined Permit Applications—Connecting information across multiple permit forms for improved efficiency.
    • Concept-to-completion coordination—Strategy for consistent ROW management.


Our increasingly integrated services are making us more nimble. We are focusing on improved pedestrian access around construction with swift and certain enforcement for bad actors. We are asking more of contractors and developers, but we are giving more in the form of early planning tools and guidance. Best practices and new standards are emerging, but not without support that in the long-run will fuel more efficient building. The benefits of our strategy may take some time to fully emerge, yet we fully expect improvement and are energized to continue.


We want to work together to reduce potential right of way conflicts; streamline permitting; and mitigate community impacts. By engaging consistently and earlier in pre-construction we all become better city stewards—and building Seattle well helps us all.