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23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project

Updated October 19, 2016

Phase 1 Construction | Current Schedule | Background | Outreach | Materials | Cost | Contact Us

Translated project materials available below

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Project hotline: 206-727-8857

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Upcoming construction activities

  • Crews plan to install pole foundations at the 23rd Ave E and E John St intersection October 22, 23, 29, and 30. This schedule is weather dependent and subject to change. From 7 AM to 7 PM each day during the work, cars will be detoured from 23rd Ave E to 19th Ave E between E Aloha St and E Madison St; Metro routes 43 and 48 will continue on their current routes through the intersection, but may experience delays; Metro route 8 and its bus stops will be detoured around the intersection during the work. Please view the flyer for more details.
  • Crews plan to pave at the 23rd Ave and E Union St intersection November 4 – 6; please stay tuned for more details.
  • Crews will continue roadway demolition and paving at 23rd Ave and E Madison St while maintaining eastbound, westbound, and southbound travel at the intersection (reminder: northbound 23rd Ave remains closed at E Madison St). Neighbors can expect ongoing lane restrictions, or changes to the traffic configuration on E Madison St, coming up over the next several weeks as crews complete one area of work and move to the next, but through-traffic will be maintained.
  • Crews extended the northbound 23rd Ave detour one additional block between E Madison and E John streets on September 19; for access to northbound 23rd Ave from E Madison St, drivers should follow signed detours on E John St (from the east) and 19th Ave (from the west). The full northbound detour from E Union St to E John St will stay in effect through the completion of construction in early 2017.
  • Check out the new public artwork by artist Martha Jackson Jarvis at the southeast corner of 23rd Ave and E Union St. The piece was commissioned with Seattle Department of Transportation funds from the Citys 1% for Arts program and administered by the Office of Arts & Culture.
  • Temporary driveway and sidewalk closures are ongoing as crews continue work in Zone C, from E Union St to E John St. Please use caution and pay attention to sidewalk closures and pedestrian detours. If you have any questions about the work happening near you, please call the project hotline at 206-727-8857.
  • Crews have been making a concerted effort to address community concerns about the construction zone appearance, signage, and business access.
    • Crews moved construction materials and some equipment to an off-site staging yard to improve the cleanliness of the construction area. This off-site location is also used for contractor parking, to make sure more street parking is available for business customers and local residents.
    • Crews are now using orange and white partitions on site to help more clearly mark pedestrian detours.
    • We have increased and adjusted the placement of "businesses are open" signage to be more visible during weekend detours, connected with businesses about wayfinding signage, and included additional promotion of businesses in our construction flyers and email updates to help promote business patronage.

Businesses are open during construction

  • Businesses on 23rd Ave are open and accessible during construction. Show your support by staying in the neighborhood to eat, shop, and play!
  • The Office of Economic Development is continuing to work with businesses to address their needs. If you have questions, please email or call Michael Wells at or 206-684-8612.

Phase 1 construction underway 
Travelers in the Central Area can expect major traffic changes now that work is underway to rebuild a safer 23rd Ave. Phase 1 construction, from S Jackson St to E John St, started in June 2015 and should be complete by early 2017. In February 2016, crews finished replacing nearly 1.5 miles of the 100-year-old old water main. Construction is also underway on the adjacent Central Area Neighborhood Greenway

We divided the project area into three work zones. Here's what's happening now:

  • Major work activities are complete in Zone A, from S Jackson St to E Cherry St, as of early June. Crews will finish several punch list items in Zone A before project completion.
  • On July 27, crews reopened Zone B, from E Cherry St to E Union St, to two-way traffic. Crews will continue intermittent construction activities in Zone B until project completion in early 2017, however, travel in both directions will be maintained for the duration of the work.
  • In Zone C, from E Union St to E John St, crews are rebuilding the street. A full northbound closure with detour to Martin Luther King Jr Way is in effect until early 2017.

During construction, we encourage commuters and neighbors to use the signed detour routes or other arterials and avoid cutting through neighborhood streets.

Questions during construction?
Call the hotline: 206-727-8857



What traffic impacts can I expect?
Crews have continued making good progress rebuilding 23rd Ave since construction began in June 2015. Crews are rebuilding the street in Zone C and reopened Zone B to two-way traffic on July 27, 2016, as they will be able to complete the remaining tasks in this zone without the full northbound detour. Work to replace the 100-year-old water main is complete in all three construction zones. The project is on schedule for completion in early 2017.

We have heard clearly the community's request that we finish construction as quickly as possible. After seeking input from key community stakeholders on phasing options between E Cherry St and E John St, crews extended the northbound detour into Zone C on June 1. A northbound detour was in place in both zones B and C until July 27. This 2-month overlap allowed crews to be more efficient and resulted in the shortest timeline for detours in each zone and construction overall.

  • Zone A - S Jackson St to E Cherry St: June 2015 – spring 2016; major activities completed; crews will finish several final punch list items before project completion
  • Zone B - E Cherry St to E Union St: November 30, 2015 – July 2016; crews reopened Zone B to two-way traffic on July 27 and will complete intermittent work with two-way traffic maintained through project completion
  • Zone C - E Union St to E John St: June 1, 2016 – early 2017; current detour (see map)

While the construction detour is in place in a specific zone, you can expect the following changes within that zone:

Traffic closures and changes:

  • Full northbound closure of 23rd Ave with a detour to Martin Luther King Jr Way
  • Southbound 23rd Ave traffic reduced to one lane
  • Longer travel times in the area
  • Metro bus reroutes and stop relocations
  • Restricted access to residential side streets from 23rd Ave
  • Partial and/or full weekend closures of key intersections

Typical work schedule:

  • Monday through Friday between 7 AM and 5 PM
  • Periodic evening and weekend work

Other temporary construction impacts:

  • Noise, dust and vibration
  • Heavy equipment and trucks traveling and staging

How to use the detour

Northbound traffic within the active construction zone will be detoured east to Martin Luther King Jr Way. To access a home or business mid-zone, drivers will need to use Martin Luther King Jr Way (or another nearby arterial) to travel northbound and turn onto an east-west street at the end of a zone – E Yesler Way, E Cherry, E Union or E Madison/John streets – to then go southbound on 23rd Ave. Use the detour map at right to determine how to access a business or residence mid-zone on 23rd Ave.

We expect the first few weeks of detours in each zone to be a challenge as you adapt to the new routes. We appreciate your patience as we make adjustments to keep traffic and people moving – please plan for extra time as you travel through the corridor.

How to access your home or business during construction

Pedestrian access to your home or business entrance will be maintained. Crews can close driveways temporarily, but we will notify businesses and residents prior to driveway work. For businesses with a driveway of 20 feet or wider, crews may be able to work on half of the driveway at a time to maintain access.

King County Metro bus detours and stop changes

During construction, there will be long-term bus detours and stop relocations. To get the latest information about your route and any changes, sign up for Transit Alerts for your route, visit Metro's Service Advisories page, check for posted Rider Alerts at your bus stop, or call Metro at 206-553-3000.

During construction in Zone C, from E Union St to E Madison/John St, northbound service for King County Metro Route 48 will travel on 19th Ave from E Union St to E Thomas St before rejoining 23rd Ave.

Why is northbound 23rd Ave closed?

To ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers, as well as to allow enough space for crews to safely complete their work in a timely manner, northbound traffic in the active work zone will be detoured to Martin Luther King Jr Way. Southbound traffic will be maintained, though reduced to one lane at most times.

23rd Ave is a narrow street. Maintaining two-way traffic requires 22 feet, or 11-foot-wide lanes, at a minimum. Construction activities and equipment require approximately 30 feet of the roadway. The graphic below illustrates why there is not enough space in the road to accommodate more than one lane of traffic during construction

Click to view larger

Keeping your neighborhood safe and moving during construction

To balance the various needs of everyone who lives, works, plays and goes to school on and around 23rd Ave, we have identified some tools to help manage traffic and keep people safe on the neighborhood’s streets. These include:


  • Signal timing modifications to keep traffic moving
  • Left-turn restrictions to minimize traffic backups and improve traffic flow
  • Signage, including detour information
  • An adjacent neighborhood greenway to provide a safe place for people to walk and bike


  • Uniformed police officers (UPOs) and flaggers on site at the start of major traffic changes
  • Traffic speed and volume analysis
  • Speed trailers where warranted, based on analysis

How is the contractor rebuilding the street?

The construction work to rebuild 23rd Avenue will consist of four main activity types:

  • Removals
    • Removing select street trees
    • Removing the existing roadway
  • Utility work
    • Replacing the water main
    • Installing drainage pipes
  • Rebuilding
    • Repaving the roadway
    • Installing sidewalks and new curb ramps
  • Final restoration work and clean up
    • Planting street trees
    • Restriping and cleanup

Your favorite businesses and organizations will be open during construction
In addition to safety and mobility, we want to ensure the local businesses and places you visit regularly remain accessible during construction. To help local businesses stay accessible and minimize some of the construction impacts they may experience, the City will:

Minimize impact to customer access

  • Divide the construction work into three zones to limit the amount of construction time in front of any one business
  • Ensure the contractor provides continual pedestrian and vehicle access for customers
  • Place “Businesses Are Open” signs to encourage patronage during construction
  • Limit the number and duration of interruptions to driveway access
  • Keep the project area as tidy as possible throughout construction

Provide communication tools to businesses

  • Provide businesses with project information cards for front counters and/or customized maps or materials to support their individual marketing efforts
  • Have a community liaison available on-site or by phone 24 hours a day
  • Provide advance notice about construction activities, including email updates and door-to-door flyers
  • Host drop-in sessions to discuss construction updates and any community concerns
  • Maintain a website with updated construction information

The City has additional resources available for businesses and organizations affected by construction; see our project materials section below. If you are a local business/organization and would like more information, please contact the Office of Economic Development directly at 206-684-8090.

The Office of Economic Development is continuing to work with businesses to address their needs. If you have questions, please email or call Michael Wells at or 206-684-8612.

Construction contact information

Construction can be difficult. If you experience any issues or have questions during construction, please contact us via phone or email anytime, day or night:


The 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvement project includes three phases:
Phase 1: S Jackson St to E John St: June 2015 – early 2017

  • Zone A - S Jackson St to E Cherry St: June 2015 – spring 2016; major activities completed; crews will finish several final items before project completion
  • Zone B - E Cherry St to E Union St: November 30, 2015 – July 2016; crews reopened Zone B to two-way traffic on July 27 and will complete intermittent work with two-way traffic maintained through project completion
  • Zone C - E Union St to E John St: June 1, 2016 – early 2017; current detour (see map)

Phase 2: S Jackson St to Rainier Ave S – Construction expected to begin as soon as late  2017/early 2018

Phase 3: E Roanoke St to E John St – To be determined


For a good introduction to the project, be sure to check out our overview video.

The Corridor

23rd Ave is an essential arterial that connects a variety of users to businesses, educational institutions and residences in the Central District and beyond. Approximately 13,400-20,000 vehicles use 23rd Ave each day. This area also serves high volumes of pedestrians, bike riders, and transit users (approximately 6,000 daily transit riders).

Why is the project needed?
The corridor is in poor condition. Currently on 23rd Avenue, there are:

  • Many collisions (more than 900 reported in five years)
  • Poor road conditions (e.g. potholes, cracked pavement)
  • Narrow lanes
  • Back-ups created by left-turning vehicles
  • Narrow and uneven sidewalks
  • Inadequate buffers between vehicles and pedestrians

Improving safety and mobility in your neighborhood

In June 2015, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) began construction on 23rd Avenue between S Jackson St and E John St. This is the first phase of a project to improve safety and mobility for people who drive, walk, bike and take transit in the area.

Project improvements vary by phase and include:

  • Modifying 23rd Ave from a four-lane street to a three-lane street - one lane in each direction with a center left-turn lane (key intersections will stay four lanes)
  • New pavement
  • Widening sidewalks to at least five feet and repairing broken and buckling sidewalks
  • Installing new streetlights
  • Upgrading traffic signals to give transit priority at key locations
  • Consolidating bus stops to improve transit speed
  • Replacing a 100-year-old water main that runs underneath 23rd Ave
  • Installing public art near 23rd Ave and E Union St
  • Implementing a greenway adjacent to 23rd Ave, to create a quieter, safer route for people to bike and walk

The new roadway –opportunity for a safer 23rd Ave

The new corridor will have wider lanes – one in each direction – plus a 10-foot-wide center turn lane. The turn lane will allow left-turning vehicles to make a safe left turn, while still allowing thru-traffic to continue through an intersection and down the street.

On streets with 25,000 vehicles per day or fewer, such as 23rd Ave, changing the street design from four lanes to three can increase safety by reducing collisions, reducing speeding, allowing vehicles to turn without blocking traffic, managing drivers cutting in and out of lanes, creating space for wider sidewalks, making streets easier to cross and making it easier for freight and transit to travel. At most bus stops, the road will flare to approximately 18 feet, where buses can pull to the side and vehicles can pass the stopped bus in the travel lane. The City is also working with King County Metro to determine the benefits of electrifying the Route 48 line. The results from the study can be found in the Project Materials section below.

cross section

Public Outreach

SDOT is committed to engaging with the community and responding to community needs in the project area. During construction, we are conducting frequent door-to-door outreach, briefing community groups and businesses, sending regular email and online notifications, staffing a 24-hour construction hotline (206-727-8857), and hosting community drop-ins. Please contact us if you would like to request a community briefing. 

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Email address:

Project Materials

Current materials

Translated materials

  • Phase 1 Construction Handout


Previous materials

Project Cost

SDOT has a total of $43 million in funding through a combination of local, state and federal sources. Phase 1 is estimated to cost approximately $31 million and is fully funded. SDOT has sufficient funding for Phase 2 and 3 design; however, additional funding is needed for Phase 2 and 3 construction.

Questions or Comments?


Call the 24-hour project construction hotline: 206-727-8857

Maribel Cruz
Project Communications Lead

Therese Casper
Project Manager

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