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Seattle Right of Way Improvements Manual:
10-Year Update

June 6, 2017

Check out our short film starring SDOT employees and produced by Reel Grrls, a production company that supports and mentors young people in media production.

December 2016 Project Update

The Right of Way Improvements Manual is an online resource to help those involved with the design, permitting and construction of improvements to Seattle’s right of way spaces. Created by the City of Seattle in 2004, it guides property owners, developers, architects, landscape architects, and engineers in best practices and the city’s design criteria. This project is an opportunity to reshape our street standards to meet evolving best practices and Seattle Department of Transportation objectives.

Currently, we are updating content and addressing over 1,000 comments from SDOT staff, other city department staff, as well as our Advisory Committee (consisting of representatives from relevant Boards and Commissions). We will release a draft for public review soon!

For a link to a presentation that provides an overview to the ROWIM 10-year Update project, click here.


The Right of Way Improvements Manual is a vital design and policy guideline regularly referenced by those who develop or rebuild infrastructure in Seattle right of way. The scope of work for the 10-year update of this resource includes significant review and modification focused on safety, efficiency, aesthetics and resilience.

The end goal is a manual that brings to life existing best practices, clearly conveying both land use requirements and right of way design options in a way that is more:

  • Interactive
  • Visual
  • Relevant

The update project addresses the following topics, many of them new additions to the manual content:

  • Development Review Process Improvements
  • Interim Design Strategies (NEW)
  • Public Space Management (NEW)
  • Illustrative Street Typologies (NEW)
  • Pedestrian Design Criteria
  • Bicycle Design Criteria (NEW)
  • Transit Facilities Design Criteria
  • Low Impact Development (Green Stormwater Infrastructure)
  • Street Lighting
  • Construction Coordination (NEW)

Relevant content is just one key to usability; the success of the Right of Way Improvements Manual also depends on how well it translates. SDOT would like the manual to be illustrative and heavily reliant upon graphics to convey principles and standards. The web interface is also set to be redesigned into a more illustrative, interactive and user friendly environment.

For a link to a one pager that summarizes the ROWIM 10-year Update project, click here.


The team, consisting of multiple city departments and public agencies, kicked off the 10-year update in June 2014.

In order to ensure that the 10-year update provides a better user experience and reflects best practices, we gathered feedback from those who have used or are familiar with the ROWIM.  During the "discovery phase", the project team met with staff, reviewed the existing ROWIM, conducted a user survey, held focus groups and reviewed web analytics for the existing ROWIM web interface.

To access the memo that identifies major findings that emerged, which will inform the ROWIM update process, click here.

Look for more opportunities coming soon to provide input.


Implementation of this web based Manual will occur first in test mode, and then go live as sections are finalized, with the entire project expected to wrap up by May 2017.


To learn more about the Right of Way Improvements Manual 10-year update effort, email the team at:

Thank you!

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