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Sidewalk Closure a Last Resort: Rule Finalized

Scaffolding over SidewalkThe new SDOT Director’s Rule (DR) highlighting construction-related sidewalk closures as a last resort is now official. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive for ‘SDOT DR 10-2015,’ as it’s lovingly known.

The rule introduces new standards and best practices for pedestrian mobility around work zones. The requirements kick in next month, for projects in 2016 and beyond.


The rule includes:    

  • New standards on the types of materials to be used and their placement
  • Direction on creating well-maintained pathways and clear signage
  • More details on meeting American with Disabilities Act requirements


Specifics on the requirements are all in section 7 of the pedestrian mobility around work zones rule. New content addresses open walkways; scaffolding; corner work; reroutes; and detours. It also clarifies the difference between a reroute and a detour, with the latter being a last resort when no other option is safely feasible.

  • Reroute = keeping people on the same side as the existing sidewalk (see pics below)
  • Detour = sidewalk closed; pedestrians must cross to the other side of the street




We’ll work with existing projects to help ensure safety and mobility for people walking in the area. The same applies for new 2016 construction that may be exempt depending on location, duration, hazards and the associated cost of compliance. Look for more specifics with the January implementation, including a Standard Operating Procedure document that will help address questions raised during outreach. In the meantime, if you see what looks like an unsafe work zone walkway, let us know with an email to


A Director’s Rule interprets an existing Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) and this one ties directly to SMC Title 15 Street and Sidewalk Use. The Pedestrian mobility around work zones rule directly supports both Seattle’s Vision Zero for safer streets and the Access Seattle Initiative to maintain mobility in the city during peak construction periods.


SDOT DR 10-2015 revises and replaces the former Pedestrian Mobility Around Work Zones Director’s Rule (SDOT DR 1-2011). The updated rule, which is legally binding, 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.


For 2016 the creation of a Director’s Rule for bike mobility around work zones is up for discussion. This after much of the public comment during outreach asked that bikes be included in the rule that interprets SMC Title 15. Bicycles fall under SMC Title 11 Vehicles and Traffic.