Monday, July 22, 2013

Added visibility comes to Olive Way crosswalk

By guest blogger Mike Allende

People walking up and down the hill on Olive Way between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle – and that’s a lot of you – know that crossing in front of the on-ramp to northbound I-5 was a bit dicey. We recognized that too, and took some action.

Recently, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation collaborated on a project that improved the Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp. The crosswalk is one of the busiest we have at freeway interchanges in King County and the work brings more visibility to people crossing with the addition of new pavement markings, curbs and a bright flashing light indicating someone is waiting to cross.

Photo of Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp before.

Previously, the crosswalk was tucked a bit off the main street towards the ramp and the sidewalk on the east side of the crosswalk wasn’t a great landing platform. Pavement markings were starting to wear down and while there were signs indicating the crosswalk, we felt more visibility would help.

Photo of Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp after.


The first step was moving the crosswalk closer to Olive, giving pedestrians more visibility to drivers looking to turn onto the I-5 ramp. Taking away a little parking on the eastside of the crosswalk, we installed a new sidewalk landing platform and two new pedestrian signs, making the walk across shorter and more direct with a more pronounced area to go to and from. The new sidewalk layout improves the views between pedestrians and drivers.

Photo of pedestrian warning light.
To add even more visibility to pedestrians, we’ve installed a warning light on both sides of the ramp to call attention to people waiting to cross. Pedestrians can push a button and emit a bright flashing light easily visible to oncoming vehicles. This is the first time this type of beacon has been used in Seattle. It sits next to an improved ramp installed for wheelchairs so that the light is accessible to all pedestrians.

Of course, it’s still up to drivers to be aware of pedestrians at crosswalks, and it’s up to pedestrians to exercise caution when moving through a crosswalk. Marked and signalized crosswalks improve awareness to those waiting to cross a street but ultimately it’s up to all of us to look out for each other.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New way to get real-time information about highways into your inbox

By guest blogger Claudia Bingham Baker

We are pleased to expand its service for receiving real-time and pre-planned information on highways in Olympic and Southwest Regions. We invite you to visit our GovDelivery self-subscription service and sign up for information by following the directions below. Once you’ve subscribed, you may modify or cancel your subscription at any time by signing in and clicking on ‘subscriber preferences.’ 
  1. Follow this link to our self-subscription page.
  2. Choose a subscription type (either email or text) using the pull-down menu.  Please note that depending on your data plan, you may incur costs associated with receiving text messages.
  3. Enter your email address in the e-mail address box.
  4. Click on the GO button.
  5. You will come to a “Quick Subscribe” page.  On that page you will see an extensive list.  Scroll through the list to see the myriad options you have available. You may choose to receive information on as many or as few topics as you wish. 
Options include:

Traffic and Traveler Updates (focuses on Puget Sound and urban highways)
  • Mountain Pass Conditions
  • Eastern Region Traffic
  • Olympic Traffic (new under GovDelivery pilot project).  This list will send you information about unplanned, real-time highway alerts about collisions or other highway incidents.  
    • If you click the “Olympic Region – All Traffic Alerts” box, you will get notifications of real-time events within Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties.
    • If you wish to limit the geographic area of interest, choose box(es) listed under Kitsap Peninsula, South Puget Sound, or Olympic Peninsula.
Southwest Traffic (new under GovDelivery pilot project).   
  • If you click on “Southwest Region – All Traffic Alerts,” you will receive information about unplanned, real-time alerts about collisions and other highway incidents in Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties. 
  • If you have interest in a more limited geographic area, click on the appropriate geographic list under that.
Similar information is available on planned, scheduled events. Should you wish to receive information about scheduled construction and maintenance work, please go through the same exercise in the next section under “Construction Reports.”

Once you choose your area(s) of interest, click on the Submit button at the bottom of the lists. Your subscription has now been recorded and you will start receiving information immediately.

FOR MEDIA ONLY:  Please note that contact numbers will no longer be included with each roadway notification.  To contact communications specialists, please refer to the Communications contact page.

Benefits to the new system:
  • Information will be more timely.
  • Information will be brief and succinct, easily read on mobile devices.
  • Information will be more comprehensive.  You will now receive notifications of scheduled roadway work as well as unscheduled roadway incidents.
  • Information will be more relevant.  You can subscribe to as many or as few lists as you wish.

The pilot project will last through December 2013, after which we will evaluate the program’s effectiveness and the level of public satisfaction. We welcome your feedback any time during this six-month project.  Please send comments or suggestions to

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bertha’s Big Day: Your chance to visit the leading lady July 20

 by guest blogger Natalie Graves

The SR 99 Tunneling Machine (Bertha) in the launch pit.
The power is on, the cutterhead is hooked up and two miles of Seattle soil await the teeth of Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine. Aside from running final tests, there’s only one thing left to do before the massive machine’s launch beneath downtown Seattle later this month: say goodbye.

On July 20, Gov. Jay Inslee, WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners will host a public celebration at Bertha’s launch site, west of CenturyLink Field, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Following the brief dedication ceremony at 11:30 a.m., attendees can walk the construction site, talk with project staff, learn about the tunneling operation and view Bertha from one of the walkways that span her 80-foot-deep launch pit. This is your chance to meet Bertha face-to-cutterhead-face.

It isn’t the first time WSDOT has hosted a “come one, come all” event along Seattle’s waterfront. In 2011, WSDOT closed the Alaskan Way Viaduct to demolish the southern mile, and hosted a final walk on the viaduct that attracted more than 3,000 attendees. WSDOT and the SR 99 tunnel contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners are prepping the construction site for visitors and Bertha is ready to meet her fans. The event includes activities designed to teach kids about science and engineering and provides the opportunity for attendees to sign their names on one of the concrete segments that will form the tunnel’s walls. To add a little flavor to the day, food trucks will also be on-site.

The celebration is one for the history books, so don’t miss out. Tunneling starts at the end of July after final testing is complete and we won’t see Bertha again until she emerges near South Lake Union in approximately 14 months. For more important information, such as directions to the event site and restrictions, visit the program’s website.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More tools, more ways to plan your trip over Snoqualmie Pass

By guest blogger Meagan McFadden

More communication tools on the road means you will have an easier time planning your trip on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass. We have been adding features and improving communications from North Bend to Ellensburg for the past three years.

Recently, crews installed fiber optic cable to extend reliable communication to weather stations and highway message signs in locations that have been hard to reach along the I-90 corridor. Three new electronic signs will provide current travel times between specific destinations. Eastbound travelers will see two new signs, one near North Bend and the other near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. Westbound travelers will see a new sign near Easton.

We installed five Highway Advisory Radio transmitters to provide drivers with quick, accurate information across a broader area regarding traffic and weather conditions on 1610 AM and 530 AM radio.

We replaced the worn out faces on the electronic message signs between North Bend and Easton making the messages easier to read.

By the end of July, we will be unveiling the new travel time signs and other upgrades. Combine these tools and updates with the flow maps on our What’s Happening on I-90 web page, our Travel Alerts and the Snoqualmie Mountain Pass pages and you have an entire tool kit to help plan your trip over Snoqualmie Pass in all seasons.