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Seattle’s abuzz with football excitement as the Seahawks look to make history in Phoenix this Sunday.
On this final Blue Friday of the season, we present you with some critical information so you can plan ahead if you plan to drink. It’s common knowledge that drinking and driving don’t mix. Consider these travel options as you put together your game plan for the big day:
We hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend! GO HAWKS!
So maybe elmed is not a word, but certainly the new Holman Road NW pedestrian median can now claim the elm treatment. SDOT Urban Forestry crews planted nine elm hybrids along the roadway this past weekend and into today. The trees are the finishing touches to the Holman Road NW Arterial Paving Project that completed construction in December (with large tree pits awaiting trees).
Despite the new trees being barely five or so years old, each one weighed 600 pounds with its root ball–bark babies requiring heavy equipment and traffic control to ensure safe planting.
Seven of the new trees were installed in the long median that flanks the pedestrian overpass at 13th Avenue NW and one tree was planted in each of the other two short medians.
The trees are the crowning top to the new pedestrian median near 13th Avenue NW, across from Crown Hill Park. In the fall the leaves will turn a vivid golden hue.
The new median is just one of the many pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements brought by the Holman Road NW Arterial Paving Project.
Providing an alternative crossing is important at this location as the nearby NW 92nd Street is a greenway and a future Safe Routes to School pathway at Mary Avenue (Whitman Middle School is just around the corner).
Data shows cars slowdown in areas where there are street trees, making the neighborhood safer.
Yet another part of the Holman Project is discussion around removing the pedestrian bridge and replacing it with a pedestrian signal. That idea, which opens up the space for better sight lines, is still in need of funding.
As part of our Safe Routes to School program here in SDOT, and in partnership with our Urban Forestry team, Columbia City now has 69 new beautiful trees along 42nd Avenue South between South Orcas and South Graham streets. The project is in direct response to what community members shared–concerns about cars speeding through the neighborhood to avoid back-ups on the nearby arterial and blowing past yield signs. This corridor is flanked by two schools: St. Edward School and Aki Kurose Middle School. With school children walking in the area and the neighborhood looking to reclaim its street, the following changes were made:
The stop signs help clarify traffic rules through the intersection with the school crosswalk, and removing parking restrictions helps decrease speeds as drivers tend to go slower on narrower pathways. Street trees have also been shown to slow traffic speeds, so they are a pedestrian safety priority. The new grass planter strip helps provide a pleasant buffer between pedestrians and motor vehicles.
The great news when SDOT’s Urban Forestry crew inspected the area is that much of it had 10-12 foot planter strips; yet, trees hadn’t been planted due to the proximity of overhead and underground utilities. That was solved with a specific planting plan: smaller but hearty blooming starlight dogwoods (see picture below) near utilities – east side of 42nd Avenue South from South Juneau to South Graham streets – and larger more majestic emerald sunshine elms (named for brilliant yellow fall color of leaves) where there were no restrictions in tree size – west side of 42nd Avenue South from South Orcas to South Graham streets and east side of 42nd Avenue South from South Orcas to South Juneau streets. Both tree species are newly developed disease and pest resistant hybrids of their well-known natives.
Before the project, we notified neighbors along the corridor and gave them contact information to express any concerns. The project manager also reached out to St. Edward School to ask if the concrete planting strips were used or needed for parking access or student drop-offs. The school was happy to have the 3-for-1 tree replacement along their block, exceeding the City’s 2-for-1 standard, and the more welcoming environment. They even agreed to maintain the new grass surrounding the new SDOT-managed street trees along the block.
For all 69 new trees SDOT purchased and planted, our Urban Forestry tree crews will provide water the first few years to help them get established, and maintain them for the lifetime of the trees. It all makes for a safer, healthier and more enjoyable neighborhood experience.
P.S. Thanks to Seattle Conservation Corps for their help – especially with concrete removal – and for bringing a great attitude!
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Urban Forestry Division crews kept busy by planting 555 trees, pruning 3,044 trees, and completing 1,080 landscape maintenance projects in 2014. All of these projects are possible due to funding provided by the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation Initiative passed by Seattle voters in 2006.
Urban Forestry is charged with overseeing the more than 40,000 trees in the public right-of-way, and maintaining 123 acres of landscapes that relate to the transportation system. Since 2007, the crews have planted more than 5,500 trees, pruned more than 25,000 trees and completed more than 3,000 maintenance projects across the City. This work is important to maintain, protect, and expand the City’s urban landscape in street right-of-ways for Seattle’s residents and businesses so that economic, environmental, safety and aesthetic benefits are maximized.
If you have questions or would like more information about the SDOT Urban Forestry Tree Program, please visit Urban Forestry’s website. In addition, if you have concerns about specific trees in your neighborhood, please call the citywide tree line at (206) 684-TREE.
For more information on Bridging The Gap please visit website.
So you’re out for a stroll in your neighborhood and you come across a sidewalk that’s starting to buckle. As you take a closer look, it’s easy to tell that the roots of the large, beautiful tree next to the sidewalk are the cause of the problem.
Street trees and sidewalks both play vital roles in our public realm, helping to make Seattle more livable and sustain our quality of life. It’s not unusual to find examples of trees and sidewalks in conflict, especially in older neighborhoods with more mature trees.
But what to do? No one wants to lose a tree, but we need our sidewalks to be flat enough and wide enough for people to use. To help answer these tough questions, SDOT has developed a draft Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan to help us better address common conflicts between trees and sidewalks.
The purpose of the operations plan is to be clear about our responsibilities and processes and to provide guidance on installation, repair, and maintenance of sidewalks and street trees in Seattle. The plan includes the following sections:
The operations plan is available for you to review on our website, at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/treesandsidewalks.htm. All comments are welcome and must be received by Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Please take a minute to look through the plan and share your thoughts with us!
The new Chromer Building Parklet is open at 2nd Ave at Pike St (1516 2nd Ave.) featuring spaced concrete blocks for seating in addition to chairs, tables and games (large Jenga blocks, and Connect 4).
Urban Visions manages the Chromer Building and hosts the new parklet adjacent to their recently-renovated building. The parklet is downtown’s first and the largest to open in SDOT’s Pilot Parklet Program.
The parklet will offer a unique public space in the Downtown core featuring seating, art, bike parking, and different types of programming. Parklets are small community gathering spaces built in a few on-street parking spots, are a cost-effective way to activate streets, create more vibrant neighborhoods, and promote economic vitality. The Chromer Building parklet will be the fifth parklet to open in the Pilot Parklet Program.
Seattle now has five parklets open, and another 10 to open in the coming months. Parklets are now open at Montana Bar (Capitol Hill), Oasis Tea Zone (Chinatown/International District), Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Wallingford), and Cortona Café (Central District). The Chromer Building parklet (Downtown). SDOT is continuing to work with the following parklet hosts to permit their parklets:
As you watch weather reports for the next predicted storm, know that the SDOT Urban Forestry team is looking out for you! Their quick thinking and decision making earlier this month is an example. During the November 6th wind storm that left so many people without power, another impact was waiting to happen: a massive Ash tree along the 1300 block of N 45th Street was swaying with such force that the sidewalk near its base began to crack.
Crews at the adjacent construction project called Urban Forestry for help. They knew who to call since the Urban Forestry team was regularly monitoring the site to ensure surrounding trees were protected during construction.
Certified Arborist and SDOT Tree Crew Supervisor Joe Markovich went out immediately to determine next steps. Seeing that the tree could not be saved he called in a contractor he knew could do quality work on short notice. While coordinating on site, Joe noticed that another tree was on the verge of failure, so he expanded the project to cover two tree removals and worked fast to update other agencies responding to the storm.
The threat to public safety warranted a temporary full closure of N 45th Street between Interlaken and Stone Way N, but it wasn’t closed for long. Coordinating with tree removal contractor Kemp West, SDOT Street Maintenance, the Seattle Police Department and King County Metro the risk was abated and the road reopened in less than three hours. The effective communication and collaboration will surely be needed again, as this is the season for Seattle windstorms!
Trees and landscape in the roadside can have a positive effect on driver behavior and perception, resulting in better safety performance.
A study of Texas urban roads showed a 46% decrease in crash rates across the 10 urban arterial and highway sites after landscape improvements were installed. After the improvements, the number of collisions with trees declined by 71%. Another study found that placing trees and planters in urban arterial roadsides reduced mid-block crashes by 5% to 20%.
All types of roadside treatments—roadside landscaping, median landscaping, and sidewalk widening with tree planting—positively affected vehicle safety outcomes. A marked decrease in the number of pedestrian fatalities was also noted—from 18 to 2 after landscape improvements.
Drivers seeing natural roadside views show lower levels of stress and frustration compared to those viewing all-built settings.
Commuting can be one of the most pervasive stressful experiences of urban life. Stress indicators—such as increased blood pressure—are associated with longer or more difficult commutes. Other affects have also been associated with commuting—lowered job satisfaction, higher illness and absenteeism rates, and lower performance on various cognitive tasks. Incorporating vegetation in roadside landscaping is one way to ease driving stress.
Drivers viewing natural roadsides exhibit lower levels of stress and frustration compared to those viewing built settings. In one lab study, drivers were presented with a stress-causing stimulus and their reactions measured in the course of recovery. Study participants seeing more natural roadside scenes returned to normal baseline measures faster. An “immunization effect” was also detected—the initial exposure to a natural roadside setting decreased the magnitude of stress response to subsequent stressful tasks. Parkway design and roadside vegetation appear to have restorative effects in reducing frustration.
Support for this summary was provided by the national Urban and Community Forestry program of the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry. Green Cities: Good Health summary prepared by Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D., June 29, 2010.
 Mok, J.-H., H.C. Landphair, and J.R. Naderi. 2006. Landscape Improvement Impacts on Roadside Safety in Texas. Landscape and Urban Planning 78:263-274
 Naderi, J.R. 2003. Landscape Design in the Clear Zone: Effect of Landscape Variables on Pedestrian Health and Driver Safety. Transportation Research Record 1851:119-130.
 Mok, J.-H., H.C. Landphair, and J.R. Naderi. 2003. Comparison of Safety Performance of Urban Streets Before and After Landscape Improvements. Proceedings of the 2nd Urban Street Symposium (Anaheim, California). Transportation Research Board, Washington DC.
 Wolf, K.L. 2003. Freeway Roadside Management: The Urban Forest Beyond the White Line. Journal of Arboriculture 29, 3:127-136.
 Ulrich, R.S., R.F. Simons, B.D. Losito, E. Fiorito, M.A. Miles, and M. Zelson. 1991. Stress Recovery During Exposure to Natural and Urban Environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology 1:201-230.
 Kaplan, S. 1995. The Restorative Benefits of Nature: Toward an Integrative Framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology 15:169-182
Crews completed street tree inventory and watering route updates to make sure all the newly planted trees would be properly cared for through the summer months. They then placed irrigation bags at the base of all 2,768 trees SDOT planted these last three years.
Two crews were hired from Seattle Conservation Corps to water the trees in North Seattle and two SDOT crews watered the remaining trees.
As in previous years, Urban Forestry collaborated with Street Maintenance to utilize two 3000-gallon flusher trucks primarily used for applying deicer during the winter months. The capacity of these trucks allows each crew to water upwards of 200 trees per day.
Crews are now in the process of retrieving all the bags, making repairs and packing them for storage to be used again next year. This work is expected to be completed in the next week or so.