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Prioritization Criteria

The purpose of prioritization criteria is to provide a rational, quantitative system for prioritizing needed pedestrian improvements. With limited funding available for all transportation projects, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) recognized the need to develop criteria to make the prioritization process as transparent and reliable as possible. To this end, prioritization criteria have been developed for new sidewalks and curb ramps, and criteria for pedestrian lighting are currently in development. Prioritization criteria for maintenance of various facilities, such as stairways, are also used. Examples of the components of two prioritization programs are provided below.

Sidewalk Prioritization Program: The goal of the sidewalk construction program is to improve comfort and safety for pedestrians. Currently, 27% of Seattles streets lack sidewalks. Sidewalk construction is currently prioritized in areas that have the most potential for people walking, particularly people for whom walking is a primary means of transportation. Therefore, sidewalk projects within urban villages, on streets that are adjacent to pedestrian-friendly land uses that also have relatively high vehicle volumes and speeds typically rank high. In addition, sidewalk projects will receive priority if:

  • they are near a facility that generates higher-than-average pedestrian traffic (such as a transit stop or a library);
  • they serve a population that uses walking as a primary form of transportation (such as school-age children); and
  • they fill in or expand the existing sidewalk network.

Stairways Maintenance: SDOT owns over 480 stairways, totaling over six miles, that are used by pedestrians to shortcut their way up or down a hill, to get from one street to another, or to access public areas such as schools, parks, playgrounds, senior centers, and bus stops. The SDOT Roadway Structures Division conducts a periodic inspection program to develop a list of stairways for repairs. Repairs range from replacing the handrail to removing and replacing landings, treads, or concrete slabs. The list is prioritized and the work is scheduled accordingly. The 2006 budget for stairway maintenance was approximately $177,000. This funded the repair or retrofit of nearly 50 stairways. The City also budgeted $375,000 for major stairway rehab work in 2007.

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