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E Pike tree pits are getting filled over with ‘porous pavement’

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What the new permeable pits will look like. (Image: SDOT)

Poor sidewalk tree pits. The tiny patches of dirt that give rise to Pike/Pine’s tree-lined blocks are often ignored receptacles of urban waste until cursed at for tripping up hurried pedestrians.

Now some of those Pike/Pine dirt patches are getting an upgrade. The Seattle Department of Transportation has started installing “flexible porous pavement” over 19 tree pits along E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave. The goal of the project is to improve pedestrian safety by smoothing over the sidewalk surface while offering greater protection to E Pike’s trees. SDOT promises no trees will be harmed in the installation.

An SDOT flyer about the project says, “this innovative solution is one of several efforts to expand our use of these new materials as an alternative to traditional mulches and tree grates.” The permeable pavement also requires significantly less maintenance work.Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.40.38 AM

All sidewalks will remain open during the project. Contractors may take up a few parking spots during the installation, which is expected to wrap-up May 6th. The project is one of the many funded by the $930 million Move Seattle levy, approved by voters last year. CHS previously looked at some of the other levy-powered Council District 3 projects.

Even with healthier reinforced bases, many urban trees will be chopped down before their time. In 2014, Broadway’s big, old tree had to go after it began leaning too far over the sidewalk. A potentially “exceptional” red cedar is also on track to come down to make way for a new development at 19th and Mercer.

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13 thoughts on “E Pike tree pits are getting filled over with ‘porous pavement’

  1. Fantastic news. That section of sidewalk is nearly impassable what with all the outdoor seating anyway. More walkable area is sorely needed.

  2. Now this is excellent and money well spent. Those gaping holes of mud and filth are a nuisance. I’m all for anything that makes it easier to use our sidewalks.

  3. Wow! These are UGLY.

    They may make the sidewalks easier to use and maintain, but did anyone think about how these look? SDOT obviously didn’t.

    • Compared to what was there? Somehow this looks a lot better than the trash filled, muddy, dog crap holders the pavement replaces.

    • If the only criteria is being slightly better than mud and dog crap, then SDOT has succeeded, but the aspiration needs to be higher than that.

    • I’d prefer the old steel grates they have in some neighborhoods, but that would be costly. And I’m sure the cost was the main motivation in their decision.

  4. This seems to be a good idea, but I question that it is funded from the “Move Seattle” levy. What does it have to do with moving Seattle?

    • You have likely noticed that some of us actually use sidewalks to get around and for transportation, and that these tree pits create walkability obstacles?

      Even if just for walking from our parking space to our destination.

  5. Broadway could use some of this. I’ve seen people tripping over the tree pit gaps for years & even broke a bone myself in one of those hazards on Broadway

  6. Good. Now cut the trees down and pave over the holes completely. Then chase the hipsters back inside so people can actually walk on the sidewalks.

    • Anti-tree much? Trees are an aesthetic and important part of our streetscapes. Is it really that hard to navigate around them? Sheesh!!