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SDOT Sidewalk Condition Assessment Project

This summer, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is conducting a condition survey of Seattle's sidewalks.  We have over 34,000 blocks of sidewalks totaling just over 2,300 miles. This effort builds on our existing sidewalk inventory data to include a sidewalk condition score based on the current conditions of the sidewalk.  Starting in late-May 2017, you will see SDOT interns in your neighborhood using levels, tape measures, and tablets to collect this condition data.

When you see our interns, wave and let them know you support their efforts.  We ask that you contact our office via e-mail SDOTAssets@seattle.gov or phone (206-256-5178) with any questions on this project.  With over 2,300 miles to cover by Fall, we'd like to keep our interns engaged with the assessment.

Property owners and occupants are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their property.  This includes clearing the sidewalk of snow, vegetation, gravel, and moss to provide a clear walking path for pedestrians that is at least 36 inches wide by 80 inches high. 

In advance of SDOT's data collection, you can help our efforts by:

  • Trimming the branches of your trees that may be hanging too low over the sidewalk
  • Clearing any bushes or moss that may grow into the walking path
  • Sweeping away gravel or other debris
  • Fixing cracks or more significant damage on the sidewalk in front of your property.

Make it a fun activity by organizing a neighborhood sidewalk cleaning party. 

If you need to complete more significant repairs involving construction, refer to SDOT's  Client Assistance Memo 2208, which covers property owner responsibilities and how to obtain a sidewalk repair permit.

Age-Friendly Seattle Resolution 31739 identified ways to involve older adults in both design and validation of the sidewalk condition assessment. In the coming months, we'll provide outreach opportunities with community members to help us validate sidewalk condition information. This outreach will include interactive neighborhood-based web maps that will allow people to see where sidewalk conditions will or have been assessed and provide us feedback. We want our online mapping tools and summer data collection to benefit all communities in Seattle. Check back here later in the summer to let us know if we got the conditions right.

For more information on Seattle's Sidewalk Repair Program, visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/sidewalkrepair.htm.

SDOT's original sidewalk inventory, collected in 2007, included a partial condition assessment of 25% of sidewalks in urban villages. Since then, an additional 5% of the city's sidewalk conditions have been updated in the inventory due to new private and public construction.
In 2016, SDOT completed a survey of over 34,000 curb ramps and provided the data in a public map called the Curb Ramp Map and Accessible Route Planner. This interactive map includes information like street slopes, curb ramp condition and presence, sidewalk condition and presence, transit access, construction zones impacting the sidewalk, and public facilities like hospitals and libraries.

The goal of this project is to collect detailed condition information about our sidewalks. This means locating cracks, uplifts, and obstructions on the city's sidewalks and then assigning an overall condition rating (i.e., good, fair, poor) based on the data collected for this project. This rating will be used to inform repair and replacement prioritization efforts and to design a more proactive inspection program for our sidewalks. We will collect and verify data using the following terms:

Attribute

Description

Sidewalk Surface Type

Sidewalk composition, which may include concrete, asphalt, permeable pavement, gravel, brick and/or pavers (also shows unimproved)

Incomplete Sidewalk

A block that does not have a continuous walking surface from intersection to intersection

Minimum Width

Provided when the width of a sidewalk is less than 36”

Primary Width

The most prevalent width of a sidewalk along a block

Planting Strip  

The area between the curb and the sidewalk that acts as a pedestrian buffer—may include trees, landscaping, utility poles, street furnishings, parking pay stations and/or pavers

Planting Strip Width

The distance between the curb and the sidewalk 

Cross Slope

The slope measured perpendicular to the direction of travel

 

Attribute & Image

Description

Uplift

A vertical change in height along a sidewalk that exceeds ½ inch at its highest point. This can either occur at areas where the different panels of the sidewalk meet, or at locations where the sidewalk has cracked.

Cracking

Locations where the paved surface of the sidewalk have cracked and show signs of crumbling and/or movement.

 Settling

The sinking of sidewalk panels that creates vertical height differences on either side of the panel.

Fixed Obstructions

Fixed obstructions are those objects that reduce sidewalk width to less than 36”. There include transit shelters, utility poles, fencing, hydrants, and non-flush utility vault lids.

Vegetation Obstruction

Like fixed obstructions, these obstructions reduce the horizontal clearance of the sidewalk to below 36”. In this case, this is caused by overgrowth of vegetation near the sidewalk.

Vertical Obstruction

Vertical obstructions are those objects that are between 27” and 80” in height, but extend more than 12” over the sidewalk. These can be fixed like awnings from businesses or cafes, or they can be vegetation such as tree branches.

After we finish the field survey, we'll identify ways to improve our sidewalk conditions.   These recommendations will include:

  • A sidewalk repair and replacement prioritization approach that meets customer needs, repair program prioritization, Pedestrian Master Plan implementation criteria, Client Assistance Memo 2208, and Municipal Code 15.72 guidance
  • A proactive sidewalk inspection program
  • Abutting property owner and occupant education
  • A System-wide analysis that proposes funding and approaches required for repairs

For more information about the Transportation Asset Status and Condition Report and the department's Asset & Performance Management program, see: www.seattle.gov/transportation/assetmanagement.htm.

Are you facing aging or disability issues? Contact Community Living Connections at www.communitylivingconnections.org or 1-844-348-5654 to get free, objective, confidential information about community resources and service options.

If you have any concerns about the condition of the sidewalks in your area, like an uplift potentially caused by tree, there are three ways to report:

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