Sidewalk Closures Last Resort in New Construction Zone Rule

Requests for construction-related closures of Seattle sidewalks will soon come under more stringent city review in an effort to make it easier and safer for people to walk here. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is proposing a revised Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility in and Around Work Zones (SDOT DR 10-2015). The expanded rule emphasizes sidewalk closures as a last resort, when there is no other reasonable solution to keep a public walkway open.

The newly updated rule establishes standards for meeting Seattle Municipal Code requirements, including materials, their placement, and steps to ensure American Disability Act (ADA) compliance. These include calling for water-filled barriers to protect pedestrians around construction sites, and eliminating the orange tube delineators known as candlesticks as an option on arterials.  This change alone could be life-saving, as the barriers were September 8, 2015 when a car crashed into them near a very busy bike lane along 2nd Avenue, near Pike Street. The driver was arrested for speeding but no one was hurt; the barriers worked as designed.

In the past, if contractors kept pedestrian access on the same side of the street as construction they could get a mobility credit; now that pedestrian routing approach is the proposed standard.  The updated rule is supported by a new progressive enforcement procedure that focuses on providing clear direction to reduce infractions, and heightened attention on those with cumulative violations.

Construction on 4th AveThe complete DR 10-2015 is posted online at www.seattle.gov/transportation/drules.htm. Comment is being accepted now through October 29, 2015. To provide comment, contact LeAnne Nelson in the SDOT Street Use Division at leanne.nelson@seattle.gov or 206-684-3897.  You may also drop off a written comment to the Street Use offices located on the 23rd floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, at 700 5th Avenue downtown