Seattle sorts out plan for increased vehicle license fees: pedestrian improvements, bridge maintenance, and bicycle safety upgrades

A Seattle City Council committee voted unanimously Wednesday to earmark money from a new increase in the vehicle license fee for pedestrian improvements, bridge maintenance, and bicycle safety upgrades.

The doubling of the vehicle license fee from $20 to $40, passed by the council during the budget process in November, is expected to raise $3.6 million this year and then about $7.2 million annually after that.

The new revenue this year would fund $1.125 million in safety improvements as part of the city’s Vision Zero goal of ending traffic deaths. Another $1.025 million would go toward sidewalk maintenance; $850,000 for bridge rehab; $350,000 for bicycle lanes and other transportation upkeep; and $250,000 to “plan for a future transportation system that addresses our values and goals for equity, safety, and sustainability,” according to the council. Continue reading

SDOT: E Union will finally get its protected bike lanes this month

(Image: 2020 Cycle)

The Central District’s 2020 Cycle is surely geared up for the occasion. Construction is set to begin for the remarkably speedy installation of new protected bike lanes running by the shop serving E Union between Capitol Hill and MLK.

Here is the latest from the Seattle Department of Transportation on the project:

We’re scheduled to construct the E Union St Protected Bike Lane on the weekend of April 24 – 25*! Our crews will begin site preparation work as soon as April 19. We will be installing a protected bike lane on both sides of E Union St between 14th Ave and 26th Ave and an uphill protected bike lane with downhill sharrow (permanent marking on the road to indicate shared lane between vehicles and bicycles) between 26th Ave and MLK Jr Way.

SDOT has distributed a construction notification, embedded below, in the area around the route. Continue reading

Thanks, Mayor Pete: E Madison bus rapid transit project gets $60M in federal funding — Here’s a block by block look at the planned changes to the street

Mayor Pete has come through. Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $187 million in federal funding for four bus rapid transit projects — San Bernardino, California, Ogden, Utah, Everett, Washington, and right here on E Madison in Seattle:

The City of Seattle Department of Transportation will receive a $59.9 million allocation for the Madison Street BRT project, a 2.3-mile east-west BRT line operating diesel-electric buses along Madison Street spanning from downtown Seattle in the west to the Madison Valley neighborhood in the east, with connections in First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the Central Area. It will connect people to hospitals, schools, businesses, and other destinations as well as to dozens of bus routes, the First Hill Streetcar, and ferry service at the Colman Dock Ferry Terminal.

The federal money helps put the $134 million Madison bus rapid transit project on path for its planned 2024 start of service of the Metro RapidRide G line, a 2.3-mile, 10-station route connecting the waterfront through First Hill and Capitol Hill to Madison Valley.

The final designs for the BRT route’s major overhaul to the Madison corridor’s streetscape were finalized last year. You can check out a block by block look at the changes below.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s streets filling with pandemic-era restaurant patios — Will they stay?

Plum’s “greenhouse” seating on 12th Ave

As Washington’s reopening speeds, there are signs that getting “back to normal” too quickly could be part of a new uptick in the spread of the virus. For Capitol Hill’s restaurants lucky enough to have a safe stretch of pavement nearby and the foresight to invest in some creative solutions, street patios have been a business lifeline allowing what officials say is a safer approach to reopening in the food and drink economy.

Across the Pike/Pine nightlife area, CHS found a diversity of designs and solutions in place across the neighborhood. But we also heard the same thing again and again from owners facing the uncertainty of a drawn out pandemic future.

“We would love to have this long term but the special permitting is set to stop in October unless the city changes something,” the folks at Cafe Pettirosso tell us. “We will have this as long as possible, it has helped tremendously.” Continue reading

Montlake Bridge planned for month-long summer maintenance closure

(Image: WSDOT)

First opened 96 years ago this June, the state says much needed work will close the busy Montlake Bridge for around a month starting late this summer. Meanwhile, there is a new rumbling of opposition to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s plans to construct a second parallel bridge as part of its ongoing 520 replacement project.

WSDOT says the planned summer 2021 construction is all about maintenance and replacing the old bridge’s key components over a month of work likely to start in August that will mean no motor vehicles crossing the span but sidewalk and boat traffic, below, continuing: Continue reading

Catching up on a lost 2020, E Union protected bike lanes should be in place by summer

(Image: CHS)

Seattle needs to push in 2021 to catch up on its plans to create new, safer routes for bicyclists including its plans for new protected bike lanes on E Union connecting Capitol Hill and the Central District.

A representative for the Seattle Department of Transportation tells CHS that there is no official schedule yet for the project but construction will start before summer.

“We anticipate construction may happen as soon as late March or at late as May,” the department rep said. “We will be sure to inform neighbors at least two weeks ahead of time to coordinate any construction-related impacts.” Continue reading

One struck and killed, driver to hospital in 10th Ave E crash

The 10th Ave E crash scene (Image: CHS)

A person was struck by a driver and killed Wednesday morning along 10th Ave E near the E Newton intersection.

Seattle Fire medic crews and Seattle Police rushed to the scene around 9:15 AM and found a person struck and pinned in the northbound bike lane beneath the red sedan that slammed into a utility pole during the crash.

Crews began life saving measures on the person who was hit and the driver. The pedestrian died at the scene. The driver was transported to the hospital. Continue reading

Pikes/Pines | Hitting the pavement for a geological trip through the natural history and present day questions of the Capitol Hill streets and sidewalks beneath our feet

Ready for shipping from CalPortland’s Ready Mix and Pioneer Aggregates Plant in DuPont (Image: Cal Portland)

I don’t know about you, but I rarely consider the streets and sidewalks I travel over unless they’re an impediment. Biking around Seattle I know where to veer past a specific pothole. I’ve found myself in a groggy rage having spilled coffee down my sleeve, tripped by a tree root uplifted section of sidewalk. My car is old and I know when a road is equally as pocked by time.

And yet, it’s easy to just feel as if roads happen (if one ignores the traffic revisions that we endure for years). A good number of folks reading this do not remember a time when new roads were built on or adjacent to the Hill. They were just there and unless you are a civil engineer, an urban planner, or a mass transit or bicycling advocate, you might not have considered them either.

Sometimes roads take us in directions we hadn’t considered. When I first pondered the natural history of roads, I had this quaint idea of delving into what grows in the cracks of the concrete. There are surely compelling stories here, but really, you can figure it out: roads are made of earthly materials and plants grow in and wear at said medium with their roots, which combine forces with other types of weathering. We’ve all probably seen a bokeh image of a tree growing out of rock in some misty locale. Give some seeds a few years without any bother and our streets and sidewalks would quickly begin weathering away, all manner of vegetation sprouting from the cracks.

Ultimately, I realized I didn’t really know what roads are made of. Where did the material come from? What are the environmental costs of putting in and maintaining roads? How long does a road last? These are all questions I recently put forward to folks at the Seattle Department of Transportation who endured such infantile questions about our city streets with grace. Continue reading

With bigger Pike/Pine street changes ahead, construction on Melrose Ave pedestrian and biking overhaul slated to begin this summer

The Melrose palm is staying

Changes are coming soon to Capitol Hill to improve walkability and the biking — and we’re not talking about melting snow and ice.

The community vision for a safer, more vibrant for Melrose Ave — the change coming soonest — has been a decade in the making. Recognizing safety concerns, community members started doing outreach to neighbors to gather ideas for what a better Melrose would look like, eventually developing the Melrose Promenade project at the base of Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, a plan for the total re-orientations of Pike and Pine into one-way streets is also underway with a longer wait for the start of that construction.

The changes to Melrose, currently expected to begin construction in June, include a redesigned intersection at E Olive Way with a new signalized crosswalk on the west end of Melrose as the Seattle Department of Transportation reconfigures the I-5 on-ramp, SDOT community outreach lead Sara Colling said.

There were 141 reported collisions on Melrose between Roy and University from 2013 to 2018, with almost all of the serious injuries being suffered by people walking or biking on the short stretch between Denny and Pike Pine.

New protected bike lanes between Denny and Pike Pine will attempt to improve safety on Melrose. They will be one-way lanes on each side of the street protected with plastic posts and pavement markings. Continue reading