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Mayor Harrell and SDOT break ground on East Marginal Way Improvement Project supported by Levy to Move Seattle and partners

Mayor Harrell (center), SDOT Director Greg Spotts, and other officials and dignitaries officially break ground on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project on April 2, 2024. Photo credit: Tim Durkan

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  • Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell joined the Seattle Department of Transportation and project partners to celebrate the start of construction on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project.
  • The upgraded streets will support the weight of heavy freight loads and include protected biking facilities, better serving our industrial businesses and enhancing safety for all travelers.
  • This blog post includes several photos from the groundbreaking event and more information about what the project will build.
  • We encourage you to visit our website and sign up for email updates to stay informed.
  • You can also read our previous blog posts from November 2022 and November 2021 for additional project background.

We’re thrilled to officially be in construction on this significant project to enhance East Marginal Way S while improving travel safety and efficiency for everyone.

Today’s groundbreaking event was a major milestone that was years in the making. This collaborative project results from partnerships with the Port of Seattle, the SODO Business Improvement Area, the maritime community, freight haulers, federal and state transportation agencies, and the biking community.

Video of the project groundbreaking media event held on April 2, 2024. Video courtesy of the Seattle Channel.

Key project elements:

  • Innovative Freight Mobility: Signal upgrades and weigh-in-motion technology to enhance access to Port and industrial lands, facilitating the flow of essential goods.
  • Bicycle Enhancements: Concrete barrier-protected bike lanes to reduce conflicts between people biking and truck drivers and bike crossings with signals to create better connections.
  • Vision Zero Commitment: Street designs that support the City’s goal of achieving zero traffic-related deaths or serious injuries. Learn more on our website.
  • Strong Partnerships: Collaboration with maritime, freight, and biking communities to understand their needs and support from our funding partners to make investments in Seattle.

Project benefits:

The East Marginal Way Corridor Improvements Project focuses on three primary transportation challenges: safety, mobility, and street maintenance, aiming to:

  • Enhance safety and reliability in the movement of people and goods
  • Support freight loads by rebuilding E Marginal Way S to heavy-haul standards
  • Promote efficiency through signal modification and intelligent transportation systems
  • Improve safety by separating non-motorized modes and vehicle traffic

The north project segment, from S Spokane Street to S Atlantic Street, is the first segment to complete design and start construction. The City will upgrade utilities and install a new watermain before the street is repaved. Future project phases will continue to improve safety and mobility for all people using East Marginal Way S and will progress as funding is available.

North Segment improvement features:

  • New heavy-haul street with 15-inch-thick concrete between Jack Perry Park and S Spokane St
  • Two-way protected bike lane on the east side of the street with concrete barriers and fencing
  • Upgraded traffic signal at S Hanford St and a new signal at S Horton St
  • Rebuilt sidewalk on the west side of E Marginal Way S
  • New earthquake-resistant water main from S Horton St to S Massachusetts St
  • Weigh-in-motion system for freight

Here are some top highlights from today’s event, including photos of our participants. We deeply appreciate everyone who attended and everyone who has participated in the planning and design process to help shape this vital project of regional significance. Thank you for your input!

Several people stand outdoors at an event while the speakers talks into a microphone. Large buildings and equipment are in the background.
Mayor Harrell provides remarks at the groundbreaking event on April 2, 2024. Photo credit: Luke Gardner
Two people shake hands while others smile behind them at an outdoor event. Large vehicles are in the background.
Mayor Harrell and SDOT Director Greg Spotts shake hands at the groundbreaking event on April 2, 2024. Photo credit: Luke Gardner
Several people stand around a podium at an outdoor event with large shipping containers and port equipment in the background.
Mayor Harrel shares remarks at the groundbreaking event on April 2, 2024. Photo credit: Luke Gardner

This important project moved forward thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Congressman Adam Smith, and additional partners supporting essential safety and freight improvement. Additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, Puget Sound Regional Council, Washington State Transportation Improvement Board, Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and Port of Seattle.

East Marginal Way was a priority in the 2015 Transportation Levy to Move Seattle, and the $7.1 million allocated for the project reflects the importance of this corridor to the regional economy, local job creation, and connections between major destinations.

Thank you again for your interest. We look forward to keeping you informed as construction continues to ramp up this year. Please visit our website for the latest details and sign up for email updates to stay informed.

An aerial view of East Marginal Way S in Seattle, with the Port of Seattle to the left and downtown Seattle in the background, on a sunny day.
Aerial view of East Marginal Way, looking north, with the Port of Seattle and downtown Seattle visible in the background. Photo credit: SDOT.

What people are saying:

“Improving East Marginal Way isn’t just about upgrading infrastructure – it’s about investing in the safety and vitality of our region’s economic backbone. This project improves the flow of people and goods, supporting local businesses, job growth, and community vibrancy. Thank you to our partners who made these improvements possible – the Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, the Transportation Improvement Board, our congressional delegation, and the Federal Highway Administration, as well as the people of Seattle who supported this project by voting for the transportation levy in 2015.” – Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell

“As we maintain and modernize East Marginal Way, we’re creating a multimodal corridor where trucks and bikes can travel safely in their own separate space. In the process, we are upgrading the roadway to handle heavy freight, replacing underground water lines, and collaborating with rail to better share the limited space along this essential waterside corridor.” – Greg Spotts, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

“Trade only moves as fast as trucks on East Marginal Way. It is a linchpin not just for commuters — it connects nearly 200,000 residents to roughly 75,000 industrial and maritime jobs – but also for freight, linking 3,700 heavy-duty trucks between three port terminals and two intermodal rail yards every day. I advocated for this project to receive a federal RAISE grant because expanding East Marginal Way will ultimately improve safety for all road users, ease freight access at the Port and local industrial businesses, and reduce congestion in the SoDo neighborhood.” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

“I’m thrilled to see construction begin on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project. I fought to secure $20 million in funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant program in support of this project. I have advocated for funding to move these critical infrastructure enhancements forward throughout my tenure in Congress. The federal government’s investment in the improvements will bolster regional economic growth, improve transportation and freight mobility, create a protected bike lane, and enhance safety for all who travel on East Marginal Way. I appreciate the partnership of Secretary Buttigieg, the City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle and all the advocates who brought this project to fruition.” – U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

“Today’s groundbreaking is an exciting step towards creating a transportation system that better serves our growing region. The East Marginal Way South Corridor Improvement project will improve safety, accessibility, and mobility for the people who live and work in the area and will strengthen supply chains to the benefit of our regional and state economy. This project was made possible by coordinated efforts of federal, state, and local partners and federal funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants program. This investment reflects the Biden Administration’s historic commitment to rebuilding America’s transportation and infrastructure and strengthening our economy and competitiveness.” – U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)

“The Federal Highway Administration is proud to partner with the City of Seattle on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project to help reduce supply chain bottlenecks and improve operations along this important freight route. This project will improve traffic flow at some of the city’s busiest freight intersections, while also improving safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and others, reducing air pollution and improving environmental sustainability.” – Shailen Bhatt, Federal Highway Administrator

“The Port of Seattle Commission is committed to advancing investments that promote the mobility of goods and people throughout our region, ultimately enhancing our competitiveness in the global marketplace. The East Marginal Way Improvement Project will not only improve transportation options for commuters, ensuring safety for pedestrians and cyclists, but also enhance freight mobility, driving our region’s economy as the critical transportation hub for maritime trade.”  – Hamdi Mohamed, President, Port of Seattle Commission

“Today is a momentous day for multimodal transportation and commerce. With today’s groundbreaking on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project, the City reaffirms its commitment to building safe, efficient freight corridors for the benefit of all users and modes. As early supporters of this project, the SODO Business Improvement Area is pleased to see this work begin, and we eagerly look forward to a safer, more connected SODO when a revitalized East Marginal Way opens in 2026.” – Erin Goodman, Executive Director, SODO Business Improvement Area

“The Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board selected this project because of its significance in handling heavy truck traffic and the opportunity to enhance safety for the community in this vital economic hub for Seattle. We’re proud to join with the City, Port, and federal government to fund this critical freight route for the State of Washington.” – Temple Lentz, Chair, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board

“Thank you to the Biden administration and Senator Cantwell for making these infrastructure dollars available, and to SDOT and Mayor Harrell for prioritizing this critical corridor for improvements that will positively transform the experience of biking, walking, and rolling between downtown and West Seattle, Georgetown, and South Seattle. Currently, people must bicycle alongside large freight trucks and high-speed traffic, which prevents many people from bicycling here. When we make our streets safer for people bicycling, more people ride bikes and we increase safety for everyone – including people driving.” – Lee Lambert, Executive Director, Cascade Bicycle Club

“We are excited to see work begin! The project will be a catalyst for increasing the number of people biking instead of driving from West Seattle and South Park to downtown and beyond. Separation of bike and truck traffic will make it safe and predictable. Bike, freight, and port stakeholders collaborated to support a road design that will keep cyclists safe and goods moving. We recognized our shared interests in safety, efficiency, and resilience for our roadways and seaport. We worked to understand and accommodate each other’s needs, to convince elected officials, to obtain funding, and this allowed SDOT to arrive at a great design.” – Don Brubeck, West Seattle Bike Connections

Editor’s note (4/8/2024): We added a video of the event from the Seattle Channel.