Improving Pedestrian Mobility In and Around Work Zones

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) proposing a revised Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility in and Around Work Zones. The goal is to make it easier and safer for people to walk in our growing city. The expanded rule (SDOT DR 10-2015) emphasizes that safety is the priority and sidewalk closures are a last resort.

We want to work together with contractors and developers in support of our Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on Seattle streets by 2030.

Key components of the new rule:

  1. Sidewalk closures are a last resort—best practices to keep pathways open
  2. More detail to help ensure American Disability Act (ADA) compliance
  3. Emphasis on clear, well-maintained pathways and clear signage
  4. Standards on types of materials and placement required for pedestrian protection
  5. All work in the public right of way is covered, not just building construction

Sidewalk closure requests in unique situations will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and only when there is no other reasonable solution. In general, the policy is meant to keep walkways open unless it is hazardous to do so.

Why Now?

SDOT is updating the rule to support Seattle’s commitment to Vision Zero, and to address the surge in development. The effort is part of Access Seattle, an initiative to keep businesses thriving, travelers moving, and construction coordinated during peak building periods. As one of the fastest growing U.S. cities, we expect 60,000 new people and 50,000 new jobs in Seattle in the next 10 years —and a continued construction boom. We’re catching up to the unprecedented volume of impacts to the right of way by adding resources where we can and policy where it helps.


This new policy clarifies expectations and steps to meet them, while expanding both the work and activities covered. Benefits include:

  • Enhanced pedestrian safety
  • Improved pedestrian access
  • Consistently applied best practices
  • Clear expectations
  • Predictable project planning
  • Expanded authority to enforce

The expanded rule will help permit applicants understand specific requirements for different scenarios: open walkways, reroutes, detours, corner work and scaffolding for example. SDOT expects it to result in fewer pedestrian detours, as it limits absolutely necessary closures to just the hours needed to complete a specific phase of work.

The revised rule is the result of a shared vision for creating a safe, interconnected, vibrant city for all.

What You Need to Know

  • SDOT DR 10-2015 for Pedestrian Mobility in and Around Work Zones is out for public comment through October 29, 2015
  • SDOT DR 10-2015 is expected to be finalized in November; Projects will have until January 1, 2016 to be in compliance.
  • Director’s Rules are legally binding interpretations of existing Seattle Municipal Code (SMC)

To learn more, contact:

LeAnne Nelson
(206) 684-3897