Utility Work in the Right of Way

Please Note:

Based on information provided by WSDOT, on January 11, 2019, State Route 99 through downtown Seattle will be closing for approximately three weeks to realign SR 99 into the new tunnel. During the closure, both the viaduct and the tunnel will be closed. Drivers should expect up to six weeks of region-wide congestion. 

To minimize transportation impacts, construction and curbspace vending will be restricted on critical streets from January 4 - February 15, 2019. Please see the Restrictions During Viaduct Closure map showing streets where right-of-way closures will not be permitted.

If work has been scheduled during the restriction period, we will contact you prior to the closure of the viaduct. Your permit may be revoked with at least 30 calendar days' notice, per SMC 15.04.070. Any revoked permits will be re-issued after the closure with no additional costs.

Please see our informational one-page document for more information. 

In Addition:

The City of Seattle is still experiencing a high volume of construction applications for both private and public projects. Traffic Control Plan (TCP) reviews have extended beyond typical timelines, which is directly impacting timelines for Right-of-Way (ROW) Management permits. This is a temporary impact, improving as more resources become available and processes are streamlined.

Right now, the below timelines can be expected. These timelines may vary based on the complexity of the project.

  • ROW Management permit intake and screening timeline: 4 business days
  • ROW Management permit timeline without TCP: 4 weeks
  • ROW Management permit timeline with TCP: 11 weeks
  • Traffic Control Plan (TCP) reviews: 8 weeks

Holiday Construction Moratorium

The Holiday Construction Moratorium restricts construction work during winter holidays in streets and sidewalks in the Downtown Retail Core, Pioneer Square, and in the Chinatown-International District. The moratorium in the Chinatown-International District was added in 2018 in recognition of the Lunar New Year.

Information on the Holiday Construction Moratorium is available in CAM 2107: Holiday Construction Moratorium.

Holiday Construction Moratorium dates for 2018 - 2019:

  • Downtown/Pioneer Square: November 22, 2018 (Thanksgiving) through January 1, 2019 (New Year's Day)
  • Chinatown/International District: January 15, 2019 through February 26, 2019 (three weeks prior to the Lunar New Year and three weeks after the holiday)

Click here to view the moratorium boundaries for the Downtown Retail Core and Pioneer Square

Click here to view the moratorium boundaries for the Chinatown-International District. 

If you are planning to perform work in the public right of way within the moratorium boundaries during these days, please submit a Request to Work During the Holiday Construction Moratorium form.

Deadline for submitting requests:

  • Downtown Retail Core and Pioneer Square:
    • Priority Submittal Deadline: August 31, 2018
    • Final Submittal Deadline: September 30, 2018
  • Chinatown-International District:
    • Final Submittal Deadline: December 1, 2018

Submit moratorium exception requests for: 

Utility work in the right of way falls into two categories. The category into which your project falls determines which permits you will need to obtain prior to starting work. The categories are:

  • Minor Utility (formerly known as simple utility or utility OTC permits and includes annual vehicle permits)
  • Utility Major

Minor Utility Permits

Minor utility permits are required when work involves utility installation, repair, or extensive maintenance, or when the project does not trigger the need for a utility major permit. There are several types of minor utility permits:

  1. Annual vehicle permit - Please see CAM 2108 for more information.
  2. Emergency permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  3. Side sewer permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  4. Pole work in the curb radius permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  5. Geographically based permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  6. Complex minor utility permits - Any utility work that does not trigger a Utility Major permit or fall into any of the types listed above requires a minor utility permit.

For more information on minor utility permits, please see CAM 2109.

An annual vehicle permit is required for all vehicles associated with work in the right of way in Seattle, unless a single-use permit (such as a minor utility or utility major permit) has been issued for the work. If your planned utility work does not involve any disturbance to infrastructure within the right of way or any possible damage to right- of-way improvements such as sidewalks, you may only need to obtain an annual vehicle permit in order to complete your work. For more information on annual vehicle permits, please consult CAM 2108.

Utility Major Permits

A utility major permit is required when your proposed work involves one or more of the following:

  • Installation of a utility mainline
  • Installation longer than 100 linear feet on an arterial street, or 300 linear feet on a residential street
  • SEPA determination is required
  • Removal of an underground storage tank
  • High potential for removal of contaminated soils
  • Environmental remediation work; Directional drilling
  • Triggering of ADA ramp installation (per the ROWORR)
  • Required changes to existing surface elevations
  • Adjacency to a City structure, such as a bridge or retaining wall

Apply for a Utility or Annual Vehicle Permit

Minor utility permits and annual vehicle permits

The following documents are always required for minor utility permits:

Additional requirements for minor utility permits may include:

Minor utility permits and annual vehicle permits may be submitted via email to SDOTUtilPermits@seattle.gov or in person at the Street Use permit counter.

Utility major permits

The following documents are always required for utility major permits:

Please note: if the utility major permit is associated with a Street Improvement Permit (SIP), the work zone site plan, phase schedule manager, and pedestrian mobility checklist may be submitted when the contractor contract is awarded. These documents will require review and approval prior to the UMP issuance.

Additional requirements for utility major permits may include:

  • Profile, if working with City-owned infrastructure or the method of installation is directional drilling
  • Traffic Control Plan, if work is on an arterial or closing the sidewalk and/or travel lane on any street in a construction hub. Please see CAM 2111 for more information. You may use the Traffic Control Base Map tool if the channelization matches current conditions.
  • Letter of Authorization if applying for a permit on behalf of the property/asset owner
  • Liability insurance. Please see CAM 2102: Certificate of Liability Insurance.
  • Utility owner approval, if the utility work is being performed by someone other than the utility owner or if a utility connection is being made to a structure owned by another utility
  • Pavement moratorium waiver, if restoration work will take place in pavement less than 5 years old
  • ADA Maximum Extent Feasible (MEF) Form

Utility major permit applications may only be submitted in person at the Street Use permit counter.

Project Notification

Project notifications are required for permitted work in the right-of-way that impede a mode of travel (e.g. pedestrian, bicycle, or vehicular closure). Notification requirements vary by project type and duration. Please see CAM 2117: Notification Requirements for Street Use Permittees.

For all permit types, the project notification must include the information listed in this template and in the "Project Notification Template Standards" listed in CAM 2117.

If your project will be longer than six months in duration, you will need to post and maintain an on-site project notice at each closure location visible to the public.

For crosswalk closures exceeding two weeks in duration, a crosswalk closure notice must be posted to, and maintained on, each crosswalk-closure barricade.

Modify or Extend a Utility Permit

If you are interested in extending or modifying your current utility permit, please download our utility permit modification form.

Please submit your form via email to SDOTUtilPermits@seattle.gov

Project Planning and Coordination Requirements

By City ordinance, utility agencies are required to provide data regarding planned capital improvement projects in the right of way for the following five years.  This information is compiled with data on public transportation and infrastructure projects in our dotMaps application, which is then presented in the SDOT Project and Construction Coordination Map. This map is an interactive tool that displays current and future construction projects in the right of way, as well as other events that may impact traffic.

Please note: all agencies performing work in the right of way that is planned at least 6 months ahead (SMC 15.32.050) must enter their project information into dotMaps. For more information on how to enter project data, please visit our Project and Construction Coordination Map page.

SDOT's Project & Construction Coordination Office (PCCO) is charged with coordinating projects planned for the right of way to save money, protect public assets, and reduce construction-related impacts - these efforts include management of the dotMaps application and SDOT Project and Construction Coordination Map. More information may be found on our Project and Construction Coordination Office page.

If you have any questions, please contact the PCCO program manager, Craig Moore, at craig.moore@seattle.gov or 206-684-5099.

Pavement Moratorium Rules

In order to preserve city assets and reduce disruption to the traveling public, resurfaced or reconstructed roadways are not be cut into for a period of at least five years (SMC 15.32.50 (E)). If your project requires the disturbing of a moratorium street and you wish to seek an exception to this requirement, you will need to submit a Pavement Moratorium Waiver Request Form.

More details about right of way pavement and restoration requirements can be found in the Right-of-Way Opening and Restoration Rule.

Find a Side-Sewer Contractor

Utility customers requiring a new service connection or extensive maintenance must contact their utility provider directly to initiate the process. In addition to any permits required to complete the utility work, a pavement restoration permit will also be required if pavement is disturbed in the right of way. Some utilities will coordinate this permitting process for their customers, but it may be up to the customer to coordinate pavement restoration permitting with a private contractor.

For more information on utility customer requirements concerning utility service connections and pavement restoration, please see CAM 2601 - Pavement Restoration for Utility Service Connections.

Permits for side sewer excavation in the right of way can only be issued to a registered side-sewer contractor. To find a registered side sewer contractor, please visit the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections' registered side-sewer contractors database. Please note that the database at this link does not represent a recommendation or an endorsement of any contractor by the City of Seattle.

Register as a Pavement Restoration Contractor

Contractors interested in becoming registered to conduct pavement restoration in the city of Seattle can learn more about the process in CAM 2602 - Becoming a Registered Pavement Restoration Contractor.

If you are ready to apply to be a registered pavement restoration contractor, please download our pavement restoration contractor application.

NOTICE: SDOT has discontinued street restoration services for side sewer contractors, effective February 1, 2018. The workload for the Maintenance Operations division of SDOT has grown significantly, as crews are tasked with delivering more lane miles of paving, square feet of sidewalk, and curb ramps than ever before. Because crews can no longer provide adequate service and timely delivery of restorations, they will no longer accept requests for work through the SDCI permitting process.

If you have special circumstances, requests for restoration will be considered.  Contact Ross Aitken at 206-233-7031 or Ross.Aitken@Seattle.gov in advance of the work to confirm that crews can meet your schedule and confirm full payment of invoices before starting work. If you have any further questions, please contact Julius Rwamashongye at Julius.Rwamashongye@seattle.gov.

Emergency Utility Work in the Right of Way

When cutting into the street is necessary for health or safety reasons that could not be anticipated, a permit is still required. An application for a permit must be submitted either on the same day, or the next business day after the roadway cutting has begun.

When emergency work occurs in the public right of way:

  1. Respond to the emergency
  2. Notify SDOT
    During work hours:
    Street Use Division at (206) 684-5283 OR
    During non-work hours:
    Charles Street Shop at (206) 386-1218
  3. Submit a permit application to Street Use on the same day or by the end of the next business day after the work has begun

Once the initial emergency work has been completed, contact the appropriate Street Use inspector to determine what, if any, follow-up actions need to take place:

  • If the work is entirely complete and the site has been restored within 5 days, no other action or information is required.
  • If the work is still underway, and the work is expected to take more than five days to complete, a traffic-control plan (TCP) and any other documents requested by the inspector must be submitted to Street Use. Work may continue if the traffic-control setup is safe and the work can be completed in a safe and timely manner.