Last month we posted about a new asphalt sidewalk on 15th Ave between 94th St and 97th St. This type of walkway isn’t as good as a standard concrete sidewalk, but it was an improvement that the community requested. According to SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan:
Seattle has approximately 12,000 street block faces that lack sidewalks. The number of blocks lacking sidewalks far exceeds the resources available to build them and SDOT only has funding to build approximately 10 to 20 block face equivalents per year.
SDOT looks for ways to maximize the impact of our funds by using less expensive construction materials like asphalt. It is not only less costly, but also can be placed faster than concrete, helping stretch our dollars further.
On 15th Ave NE between NE 94th and NE 97th streets, SDOT addressed the neighborhood’s desire to improve pedestrian accessibility and upgrade drainage infrastructure. We did so with a modest budget by utilizing asphalt for the walkway, and replacing and covering an old drainage culvert. SDOT also separated the roadway from the sidewalk with a landscaping strip, which will deter parking and improve the pedestrian walking environment.
Despite the best intentions, though, you still see problems like this:
Vehicle parked on asphalt sidewalk
SDOT has not provided figures for the cost of an asphalt sidewalk, but construction costs for a standard concrete sidewalk can range from $40,000 to $300,000 per block. It’s likely that the asphalt sidewalk here cost less than half of what a concrete sidewalk would cost.
With so many sidewalks yet to be paved, lower cost installations mean more sidewalks get built faster. But would it be better not to spend anything than to spend on an asphalt sidewalk / parking strip? Is the new sidewalk better than what was there before, or is it a waste of funds?
What do you think?
Release from SDOT:
SEATTLE — Crews from the Seattle Department of Transportation are replacing a sidewalk on Rainer Avenue South at the intersection with South Jackson Street this week. The curb lane on the eastern side of Rainier Avenue South between South King and South Jackson streets will be closed 24-hours a day while the sidewalk is excavated, tree roots trimmed, and new sidewalk poured. Pedestrians will use the sidewalk on the western side of Rainier. The crews expect to complete the work by Friday, March 4.
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This follows some other work that SDOT has completed at this intersection:
Installed concrete bus bulbs (curb and sidewalk extensions) that allow buses to load and unload passengers without having to pull in and out of traffic. The wider sidewalks also provide more room for pedestrians.
· Improved street lighting and drainage related to the new bus bulbs at several locations.
· Added curb ramps at several locations along the corridor
· Removed the traffic island and installed a new traffic signal at the northwest corner of Rainier Avenue South and Martin Luther King, Junior Way South, opening the new, safer southbound turn lane from Rainier onto Martin Luther King.
These improvements were funded by the “Bridging the Gap” transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters.
Beacon BIKES has a new name and a new website – Beacon Walks & Bikes at beaconwalksbikes.org.
Check out their site, which has a photo of an improved sidewalk at McClellan and Beacon Ave.
SDOT is encouraging people to keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice on Twitter and Facebook: “Remember to clear your sidewalk before leaving home today. Let’s keep those pathways open for pedestrians.”
This isn’t just a suggestion, it’s also the law, according to the PI’s Seattle 911 blog:
“Property owners and occupants, whether business or residential, are responsible for removing snow and ice from sidewalks that abut their properties,” Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan said. “The penalty for non-compliance is $250 for the first citation and up to $500 for subsequent citations.”
Police say people should not call 911 about sidewalk ice violations, and if their neighbors are a problem, they should contact them in a cordial manner.
Meanwhile, “SDOT will deploy pedestrian safety crews to clear specified curb landings and stairways. These areas were selected using Pedestrian Master Plan criteria.” It’s not exactly clear which curb landings and stairways these are, but they are likely to be well-traveled areas.
Property owners, take note – a tip from this month’s Way to Go newsletter:
Nearly everyone, regardless of age or ability, is a potential sidewalk user. Did you know that Seattle property owners have the responsibility to keep the “Walkable Zone” on the sidewalk near their property clear? Think of the Walkable Zone as a box six feet wide by eight feet tall that extends all the way down the sidewalk. Property owners are responsible to keep the Walkable Zone free of obstacles such as parked cars, recycling bins, plants, ice and leaf litter, and to fix cracks in sidewalks along their property. By keeping this area clear and maintained, we can all help to make Seattle America’s most walkable city.
SDOT’s newsletter, The Walk Bike Rider, reports on a new sidewalk on Aurora at 115th, near the cemeteries. This sidewalk makes it easier to access the 358 bus stop in the area.
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The city has announced which neighborhood projects would receive funding in the upcoming year. From the city’s press release:
Mayor Mike McGinn today announced 11 projects that will be constructed through the Neighborhood Street Fund Large Project program. Utilizing funds from the voter-approved Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy, the city will invest $4.7 million over the next three years in these new projects.
“The Neighborhood Street Fund is a great way for neighborhood leaders to identify and fund small projects that can make a big difference locally,” said McGinn. “Every neighborhood plan identifies safe and walkable streets as a high priority – this fund supports that priority.”
Here is the list of projects:
(Hat tip Seattle Transit Blog)
Sidewalks on the Ballard Bridge will be closed over the next several weeks as work is done to repair and paint the handrails.
The sidewalk on the east side of the bridge is now closed through August 30th. On August 31, or shortly thereafter, the sidewalk on the west side will close for three weeks. The sidewalks will be closed around the clock, Monday through Friday, and will reopen for weekends.
The public stairway is partially closed. Access to the west sidewalk is open, but access to the east sidewalk is closed. This situation will reverse when the contractor moves the handrail painting to the west side of the bridge.
Detour signs direct pedestrians to the side not being painted.
Bicyclists are encouraged to use one of the alternate detour routes being provided; either the Ballard Locks or the Fremont Bridge. Alternately, if using a detour route is a hardship, bicyclists may use the sidewalk not being painted. However, due to the narrowness of the sidewalks and the contra-flow bike traffic, bicyclists will be required to dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge.
The Jose B Rizal bridge, which links Beacon Hill to the International District, has been made over to help extend the life of the bridge. The SDOT Blog profiles this project:
The extensive rehabilitation project included repairing concrete spallings on the bridge deck; installing a new sidewalk concrete overlay; repairing and sealing cracks in the concrete; and repairing or replacing deteriorating expansion joints and a concrete girder. This critical work will extend the life of the bridge for many decades to come.
Photos on the SDOT blog show the smooth new sidewalk.