The construction cranes dotting Seattle’s landscape have become an iconic part of our city skyline in recent years. And perhaps no part of the skyline hosts densely clustered cranes more than the area above South Lake Union – a clear sign of the rapid development happening in the area. With 30-plus projects underway, and another 30-plus projects currently applying for permits, South Lake Union isn’t expecting a slow-down anytime soon.
So what does this mean for mobility and business in the community? Exciting future changes, for sure. But having multiple construction projects in close proximity to one another can of course present challenges. Because each neighborhood is unique, solutions to these challenges need to be tailored to the specific neighborhood that is experiencing the growth. This is where SDOT’s Access Seattle Initiative and Construction Hub Coordination Program become essential.
Active Construction Projects (orange) / Projects in Permitting (green)
So how is SDOT’s Construction Hub Coordination Program helping South Lake Union navigate the ongoing construction boom?
First and foremost, we are reaching out to the community to find out what their needs and concerns are. By attending and holding public meetings, distributing frequent construction updates online and in print, and by establishing a single point of contact in each of Seattle’s construction hubs (Jack Bighorse is the contact for the South Lake Union hub – email@example.com), we are keeping our fingers on the pulse of Seattle’s changing neighborhoods.
In addition to listening to individual concerns, we’re also taking in the big picture.
In South Lake Union, it not just buildings that are changing the cityscape. Preconstruction activities for the Westlake Avenue protected bike lane are set to begin soon, the Fairview Avenue bridge is being replaced, a new substation and power-distribution network will be installed near Denny Way, and RapidRide C Line bus service is being extended to better serve the neighborhood. All of these changes mean that careful coordination with the timing of other nearby construction projects is key, so we’re working closely with contractors and developers to minimize potential conflicts.
Part of making sure projects run smoothly, and that pedestrian and vehicular mobility is maintained, is proactive construction coordination to identify and resolve potential right of way issues before they occur. The Hub team collects and compiles project and event schedules then works with contractors and stakeholders to consolidate haul routes, deliveries and other activities to minimize closures and ensure access.
We have also written the new Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility In and Around Work Zones (DR 10-2015). This new rule, which will be finalized shortly and go into effect on January 1, provides clear requirements to contractors for the provision of pedestrian access around their work zones. In particular, the rule emphasizes that sidewalk closures should be used as a last resort – which, especially in a busy construction hub such as South Lake Union, helps keep pedestrians safe and mobile.
SDOT is also partnering with the Seattle Office of Economic Development to gather input from local businesses, and to identify ways to maintain a healthy local economy during times of dense development. In addition to facilitating pedestrian access to businesses in the area, we’re working with stakeholders to develop specialized “construction mitigation toolkits” that are tailored to the unique issues of a particular business.
Do you live or work in South Lake Union or another construction-impacted neighborhood? We want to hear from you! Please send any questions or comments you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can learn more about our efforts at seattle.gov/transportation/hub.htm.