Following the lead of a host of other U.S. cities and even that of the First Lady herself, the Seattle Department of Transportation has announced a new pilot program that will allow communities to close roads to cars and create “play streets”, giving kids (and adults!) freedom to use their street however they want. Giant hopscotch board? Sidewalk chalk canvas? Dinner party in the middle of the street? It’s up to you!
The very first of these play streets is happening right in our own backyard, in partnership with St. Therese Academy’s annual field day, taking place tomorrow, May 30. 35th Avenue between Spring and Marion streets will be blocked off from 8:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so the school can safely expand their field day to the street.
Neighbors, schools and other community organizations will have the flexibility to hold play streets as often as they want, whether its twice a week or a one-time event. There are play streets programs all over the country, and they have been a part of New York City life, for example, since 1914. The NYC program has recently expanded with the help of the NYC Parks Department, and play streets have entered the national discussion as part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity, as well. Visit SDOT’s new program website to read more about how you can play on your streets!
In response to rider recommendations made during the Save Bus 2 effort a year ago, the City looked into ways to alleviate congestion on Spring St. between 3rd and 6th Ave. SDOT has decided that the best option would be to create a bus-only curb lane during peak commute hours running the length of the three blocks as well as create a bus queue jump signal at 6th to allow buses to easily cross over and turn left onto 7th. Eliminating the bottleneck is expected to happen in late 2013.
Even though a possible solution has been agreed upon, Metro still needs to make a 17 percent cut in service due to the State legislature failing to act on a bill that would allow authority to levy a transportation tax. They are looking into ridership counts to help make a decision to either eliminate, reduce or revise the No. 2’s route. Proposed cuts will be announced in November and April which the King County Council will decide on approval in May 2014.
If you would like your opinion heard on the matter heard, it would be useful to attend the local meeting (potentially Oct. 1st). There is still a chance that the State legislature could act to allow Metro to avoid the 17 percent cuts. For more info on the meeting and updates on the matter please visit transportationchoices.org.
At the Madrona Community Council meeting last week, the SDOT presented an overview draft of scope work to address various conflicts with trees and sidewalks in the community. The ultimate goal for the SDOT will be to develop a “toolkit” of options to address these issues, using case studies such as the 34th Avenue East corridor in Madrona as an example to illustrate what applications can be installed. The goal is to create a safe, inviting walkway environment, while growing and maintaining a healthy urban forest and preserving the existing areas.
Work will be completed in 2013, with repairs to sidewalks damaged by street trees, and implementing tree removal where necessary. They will be planting new trees where needed, and researching and implementing long terms solutions to the issues at hand. If you’d like to review the Draft Scope of Work for the project, any comments for suggested changes will be accepted now through February 7th and can be viewed here.