You might have noticed new street signs being installed last week on Airport Way S between Fourth Avenue S and S Charles Street. That portion of road is returning to its historic name – Seattle Boulevard South. The two property owners on that street requested Seattle resume using the original name. The city reviewed the proposal, conducted public outreach and the City Council approved it via ordinance. Paid for by the requestors, all of the street signs now proudly bear the original name of Seattle Boulevard South.
SDOT reached two key milestones recently to move the First Hill Streetcar line closer to the start of construction. SDOT completed the evaluation process for selection of the project general contractor/construction manager (GC/CM). This was a best value process based on qualifications and proposed fee for construction management services. The apparent best value proposer is Stacy & Witbeck, Inc. The GC/CM will manage the scheduling and day-to-day construction activities that go into making the First Hill Streetcar a reality. Stacy & Witbeck are highly qualified, with experience as builders of the South Lake Union Streetcar and the Portland Streetcar.
SDOT has also issued an Industry Review Draft of a request for proposals (RFP) to manufacture streetcar vehicles for the project. At least six streetcars will be needed for the 2.5 mile First Hill line. The new streetcars will be very similar to those now operating on the South Lake Union Line. After receiving comments on the draft from potential suppliers, SDOT will issue a final RFP, with selection of a supplier anticipated by mid-2011.
To learn more about the First Hill Streetcar, visit the project homepage.
Where did all those potholes come from? Does it seem like they just appeared overnight? Well, they did, sort of. The recent cold snap, followed by the heavy rains, have both been major contributors to the many potholes chewing up our streets recently. For a better understanding of how potholes form take a look at this graphic:
SDOT’s Neighborhood Traffic Program helps ensure safe traffic operations on our residential streets. Residents often get involved in the program when they have concerns about speeding, high traffic volumes, or cut-through traffic issues on their street. Above all, people get involved because they want to feel safe while walking along or across the street.
Check out this excellent video about traffic calming produced by our friends over at the Seattle Channel. The clip provides excellent insight into the principals of traffic calming as it follows the story of two Beacon Hill families concerned about safety on their street. Enjoy!
Looking ahead, in the first quarter of 2011 Airport Over Argo Bridge Rehabilitation work begins, and soon after construction to seismically retrofit the Fauntleroy Expressway Bridge is expected to start. Also in 2011, BTG-funded work on the four King Street Station area bridges is on the docket, as well as work on the bridge at East Marginal Way at Horton and the Ballard Bascule Bridge.
In 2006, Seattle voters passed a nine-year, $365 million levy for transportation maintenance and improvements known as Bridging the Gap. The levy is complemented by a commercial parking tax and an employee hours tax. The funds are supporting a multitude of projects all across Seattle from all the arterial paving to transit corridor improvements and beyond.
Well, we thought we’d clarify how those pedestrian push buttons work. Most buttons are tied into the signal cycle for the lights. Although pushing the button many times may make you feel better, pressing the push button once is all that is needed to activate the walk-signal request. The signal will serve the pedestrian at the next available opportunity.
This crossing opportunity, though, has its own “window of opportunity”. The walking signal is set to give adequate time for pedestrians to cross the street. For the walk signal to be requested the button must be within the “window” (on average 20 seconds before the light change), which will then give pedestrian enough time to walk.
If the signal is running in a synchronized corridor (a collection of lights synchronized along a stretch of an arterial), there may be some delay before the walk signal is given while the intersection completes the current signal. Because vehicles need less time than pedestrians to cross an intersection, to have the pedestrian “walk” signal come up during every signal cycle would cause significant traffic delays (which would make you grumpy when you are on the bus or bike or in a car). We know that it is frustrating to press the pedestrian pushbutton “late” in the signal cycle and wait for the next cycle, but this is the only way to ensure adequate time for pedestrians to safely cross the street. It feels so good when you hit the pedestrian crossing button and the signal changes almost instantly to let you cross.
You’ll see another style of button – one that instead of the big silver knob has a smaller button and red light. We install those to help disabled people cross the street. They make a sound so, instead of just lighted signs, blind people can hear when it is safe to cross. The “Cuckoo” sound is for the north/south crossing; the “Chirping” sound is for east/west.
After one of those new buttons was installed, we heard from one four-year-old; he was disappointed that he could no longer see himself make smiley faces in the big silver button. That is a good idea for something to do while you wait for your signal!
(*by the way, the NPR story stated that elevator enginners do say most “close door” buttons do get the door closed faster; but of course it depends when you push it)
SDOT is working with WSDOT to coordinate relocation of underground utility and water systems near the southern portion of the viaduct between S Holgate Street and S King Street. The work is part of city street improvements that will help keep traffic moving during construction to replace the southern mile of the viaduct.
To help visualize what this project looks like and how it will be sequenced check out WSDOT’s interactive simulation. In the coming weeks the SDOT Blog will post articles about the start of construction for this project. To learn more about it, including the impacts and benefits, visit the SR 99 – S Holgate Street to S King Street Viaduct Replacement homepage.
Tom Im, with InterIm Community Development Association, recently thanked SDOT and many other city departments and agencies for their efforts to implement the first “Green Street” in the International District. The design and implementation of this project needed many hundreds of volunteers and over six years to complete. [Read more…]
Throughout the year, the SDOT Blog has posted numerous reports on the newest bike facilities to hit the streets in Seattle. This year we installed more than 20 miles of new bike facilities as we continue to implement the Bicycle Master Plan’s vision of a 450-mile on- and off-street bicycle network. Our planners and engineers tackled many difficult projects this year in an effort to expand our bicycling system. The map above shows our 2010 projects in red and existing bicycle facilities in grey. As you can plainly see, the network is really coming together.
We’ve already highlighted many projects like the buffered bike lane on N 130th Street, the S Columbian Way Project, the Greenwood and Nickerson rechannelization projects, the two-way couplet on Roosevelt Way and 11th Avenue NE, the innovative new facilities on 7th Avenue, the Ship Canal Trail, and the 3rd Avenue S link. However, some projects have slipped through the cracks. Check out the photos below to see our work then grab your bike to see them for yourself!
Pedestrians and cyclists take note, the bridge over the railroad tracks, from Elliott Avenue West to Myrtle Edwards Park, at West Thomas Street, WILL happen!!! This overpass will provide a key connection to the waterfront from the Lower Queen Anne and Belltown neighborhoods.
When the bike/ped overpass project kicked off the fall of 2003 construction was scheduled for mid 2005, but further analysis of the area determined that Elliott Ave W was also a major barrier to park access. Discussion centered around whether or not the structure should cross Elliott Avenue West, as well as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The safety of pedestrians and cyclists along the access routes was at the heart of the debate. A study ensued as construction plans bumped to 2006.
RENDERING OF PROPOSED BIKE/PED OVERPASS
Needless to say, costs for materials rose sharply during that time and the project already in need of extra funds had to cease for lack of enough dedicated dollars. That said the project IS now fully funded: the W. Thomas St Pedestrian Overpass Project was selected and included on a list of other competitive projects to receive supplemental funds administered by the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Construction is expected to start this March. The community requested the overpass, which is included in both the Queen Anne and Belltown neighborhood plans, and worked hard to ensure that additional funding was provided through Parks Levies and the city budget process.