Areaways Program

Updated: December 9, 2019


In 2018, we conducted a structural analysis of the underground areaways in Pioneer Square. This analysis highlighted critical areaway structural vulnerabilities.

Areaways are spaces that exist under sidewalks and between the street and the adjacent building, and the areaway foundation walls have deteriorated over time and need repair.

We've made spot repairs in some locations in recent years, but we need to take a systematic approach moving forward. Our priority is to keep residents and businesses safe, so we're taking some preliminary steps to reduce the load on the areaways and prevent further issues, while maintaining reliable access for people and goods in the neighborhood. 

Areaway cross section

Schematic of an areaway

What's happening now?

Given the conditions in areaways, strict vehicle weight limitations, increased commercial vehicle enforcement, and an assessment of the current placement of load zones in Pioneer Square has been ongoing for the last few months. 

As part of this process, we'll engage tenants and building owners to share additional information and to collect information to help us plan our work.    


  • Vehicles over 10,000 pounds are restricted to the inside lanes on 1st Ave from Marion St to Railroad Way S. and right turns have been restricted.
  • Commercial vehicle load zones have been relocated to curb space withour a vulnerable areaway.
  • General-purpose curb space use with an adjacent areaway has been restricted for use by vehicles that are less than 10,000 pounds.


  • With approval from the Pioneer Square Preservation Board and King County Metro, we've started planning the removal of the old Waterfront Streetcar platform on Main St. The awning, railing and other parts will be stored for potential future uses. Demolition will allow us to rechannelize the street so that traffic can be moved away from the curb lane to the center lanes, avoiding load restrictions between 2nd Ave Ext S and 1st Ave.
  • Some parking signs for load restrictions in general purpose parking areas still needs to be put in place.

Future Work:

  • Given the existing Streetcar line on S Jackson St., people driving use the curb lane from Alasksa Way S to 2nd Ave Ext S which places along adjacent, vulnerable areaways. We're planning to restrict travel in the curb lanes for vehicles over 10,000 pounds on S Jackson St from midblock between Alaskan Way S and 1st Ave to 2nd Ave Ext S after the Connect 2020 project work is completed in March 2020.
  • Given the impact of this change SDOT is working to provide routing information that will assist with getting to CVLZs. This information will be distributed before the restrictions are put in place.

What's next?

Throughout 2019 and 2020, we'll add to our existing monitoring system and continue a complete assessment of the areaways to determine a long-term plan of action to repair necessary areas.

Map of Pioneer Square showing areaway assessment and repair boundaries and curb lane weight restrictions.

    Pioneer Square areaway assessment and repair, proposed load zone locations


Fact sheet (December 2019)