Move Seattle begins with Beacon Hill paved trail for students

Thanks to voter-approved funds provided by the Move Seattle levy, today the City of Seattle began construction on its first 2016 Safe Routes to School project at Mercer Middle School.

“Thanks to Seattle voters’ approval of Move Seattle, we will make major investments to maintain our roads and bridges, make our streets safer, and give people new options to move around and through Seattle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Our Move Seattle investments begin right here, with the groundbreaking of our first Safe Routes to School project of 2016.”

Following through on the levy commitment to complete a Safe Routes project at every public school in the city, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is building a paved, off-street trail to give Beacon Hill schoolchildren a safer place to walk and bike.

Approved by voters in November 2015, the nine-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle provides funding for Safe Routes ($207 million), Maintenance and Repair ($420 million) and Congestion Relief ($303 million).

Parallel to the busy 15th Avenue S, the new trail at Mercer Middle School will replace a gravel path and connect the northeast entrance of the school to a pedestrian crossing at South Spokane Street and Lafayette Avenue South. Approximately 2,000 feet long, the 12-foot wide path will be adjacent to Jefferson Park on Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) property and connect two neighborhood greenways. The project is a partnership of the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, SPU and SDOT.

SDOT will construct 12 Safe Routes to School projects this year, encouraging active commuting by schoolchildren and families. The Safe Routes program is part of Vision Zero, the city’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Safe Routes projects improve safety for communities by building healthy places where kids can safely walk and bike to school and through their neighborhood.

Thanks to Move Seattle levy funds, SDOT has budgeted $6.7 million for Safe Routes to School projects at the following schools in 2016:

  • Aki Kurose Middle School
  • Arbor Heights Elementary
  • Bailey Gatzert Elementary
  • DF Day Elementary
  • Bryant Elementary
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary
  • Mercer Middle School
  • Montlake Elementary
  • Rainier Beach High School
  • Salmon Bay Elementary
  • Sanislo Elementary
  • South Shore K-8

“Safety, especially for children, is the number one priority for SDOT,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “Connecting neighborhood greenways and next to a park, this Move Seattle Levy funded trail will keep our most vulnerable residents safe as they travel daily to and from school.”

A Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) grant is funding education and encouragement aspects of the project. Construction is funded through Seattle’s local funds and the grant, with the total cost of project construction estimated at $955,000.

To learn more about the Safe Routes to School Five Year Action Plan, please visit:  http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/srts/SRTSActionPlan.pdf.

For more information about the Mercer Middle School project, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/SafeRoutesMercerMiddle.htm

Seattle announces Safe Routes to School action plan

Today Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and community partners unveiled Seattle’s inaugural Safe Routes to School Action Plan.

Safe Streets, Healthy Schools and Communities is a five-year action plan that guides investments for engineering improvements, education, encouragement, and enforcement around schools in Seattle. It is a first of its kind document for Seattle, developed by a coalition of public agencies, parents and safety advocates.

“With children now back in school, and as the fall rains come, drivers must do more to keep kids safe,” said Murray. “Seattle continues to invest in the sidewalks, crosswalks and speed cameras that improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding around schools. All children must have a safe walking route to their neighborhood school.”

Today’s announcement was made at Sacajawea Elementary School in north Seattle, one of 12 locations where SDOT completed Safe Routes to School projects in 2015, which include new sidewalks and crossing improvements.

The Mayor’s proposed 2016 budget allocates $5.8 million to support Safe Route to School projects at another 9 schools.

Over the past ten years, more elementary students have been walking and biking to school, growing from 15 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2015.

As part of the action plan announced today, every third, fourth and fifth grade Seattle public elementary school student will receive walking and biking safety education through their physical education class. A new partnership between SDOT, Seattle Public Schools and Cascade Bicycle Club will deliver that opportunity beginning next year. Today, only half of Seattle public elementary schools receive bike safety education, and no formal pedestrian safety education program exists.

“I’m excited to grow our partnership with SDOT and Cascade Bicycle Club to expand walking and biking safety education to more children through our physical education program,” said Superintendent Larry Nyland. “Making sure our students have safe and healthy ways to get to school will help them be poised to learn and contribute in the classroom.”

Safe Routes to School is funded by fines from the school speed zone camera program, state and federal grants, and the Bridging the Gap transportation levy, which expires this year. Seattle’s school zone speed camera program has generated $16 million for the Safe Routes to School program since 2012.

To protect more children walking and biking to and from school, SDOT and the Seattle Police Department recently installed school zone speed cameras near six additional schools, bringing the total number of Seattle school zones covered by cameras to 14.

Drivers are becoming more aware of new cameras. Over the last two years, the average number of traffic violations per camera per day has dropped 64 percent and average speeds in these zones have decreased by four percent.

“Nine out of ten drivers who get a school zone speeding ticket don’t get a second one,” noted SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “The cameras are protecting children and funding safety improvements near schools, resulting in safer streets for everyone.”

Safe Routes to School is a core component of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Download the full Safe Routes to School Action Plan at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/saferoutes_actionplan.htm.

For more information about Vision Zero, visit www.seattle.gov/visionzero. #VisionZeroSEA

SDOT, SPD Release March 24th After-Action Report and Action Plan to Improve Response When Streets Are Blocked Due to Collisions

SEATTLE–Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) have identified initial steps they will take to improve the city’s capacity to respond to major traffic incidents. This ability was clearly challenged on March 24 when an overturned truck on State Route 99 blocked all southbound lanes just north of Royal Brougham Way South.

SPD and SDOT have completed a report reviewing the incident, identifying the issues, and recommending solutions. The City of Seattle will engage outside experts on traffic incident management to develop best practices on how to better handle future traffic incidents and how communication and collaboration systems can be improved.

“After reviewing the after-action report, I definitely believe there is room for systemic improvement,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We look forward to planning and training with our partner agencies to make sure we have the right tools and protocols in place in the future.”

By June 30, SPD and SDOT will develop new protocols for responding to incidents on arterial streets. The actions will be assigned the following priorities: first, to save lives and protect public health; second, to minimize and mitigate impacts to traffic congestion; and third, to minimize damage to public and private property.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly stated, “Removing blockages quickly and safely is important for our first responders, the movement of goods and getting travelers to their destinations.”

The report recommends that the city review coordinated response protocols between departments, including SDOT and SPD, and also Seattle Fire Department, Finance and Administrative Services, the Emergency Operations Center, and elected officials.  Other recommendations include identifying resources that might be available to support incident response, ensuring that systems are adequate to accurately and timely deploy these resources, and developing incident management signal timing plans and traffic re-routes for incidents.

The complete After Action Report can be found on SDOT’s website: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/media.htm

 

Play Streets are coming to Seattle!

Looking for something new to do with your street? Consider joining SDOT’s Pilot Play Streets Program!

So what is a “play street,” exactly? It’s just what it sounds like. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street to traffic so that you and your neighbors can go out and play in the street. Maybe you want to have a block-long hopscotch game or a gigantic 4-square tournament…or maybe you just want extra space to bounce a ball, skate, scoot, walk, bike, or run. Play streets can be whatever you and your neighbors want them to be.