City wants you to report construction zone hazards

Save this email address: SDOTConstructionHub@Seattle.gov

The city’s Access Seattle program wants you to email whenever you encounter a construction zone that you find hazardous. No walking path? No way to safely cross the street to access an open walkway? Signs placed in the middle of the bike lane or sidewalk? Dangerous bike wheel-grabbing seams or ruts in the temporary street surface? Email Access Seattle and let them know.

With so many projects going at the same time, it’s easy for crews to knowingly or unknowingly fail to properly accommodate people who need to get around their construction. Some crews are better than others, and some may not actually know the rules. But no construction company wants to be responsible for an injury (or worse).

Readers sometimes tell me about their efforts to contact construction companies to address concerns directly, and results vary dramatically form firm to firm. So it’s great that the city is trying to get this email out there so they can do that work for residents. Some firms may just take them more seriously.

Details from the SDOT Blog:

Have you heard of Access Seattle? You’ve likely seen its results in the form of better access around construction sites, with much of the assessing and coordinating done before construction begins. The effort to keep Seattle mobile and thriving during construction booms involves the Construction Hub Coordination Program and works in part because of you —  eyes on the street.

Site Coordinators are out regularly in the hub areas, partnering with Street Use inspectors across the city, to identify and help resolve infractions and hazards. More identified hubs are expected soon, but SDOT’s Street Use staff respond to access concerns regardless of location. Many concerns are raised by you – the collective community experiencing construction impacts regularly where you live, work and travel. To collaborate more with you, save the team’s email, SDOTConstructionHub@Seattle.gov, to your mobile phone and email when/if you see things like…

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.47.32 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.47.20 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.47.10 AMAll of the infractions shown above were rectified by the Access Seattle team, along with a host of others across the city. There are of course many examples of great construction site management and contractor efforts to lessen the impacts of their work on the community. We’ll talk about that in weeks to come, along with more infraction highlights and their remedies.

In the meantime, know that Access Seattle is always working for you, negotiating for things like better pedestrian access when a project proposes closing sidewalks entirely; bringing multiple projects together to talk about ways to contribute to neighborhood needs, like street parking; or arranging for methods to improve project sites to lessen negative impacts like littering and tagging.  The small but nimble team is on it, and looking to grow with you.

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18 Responses to City wants you to report construction zone hazards

  1. Cheif says:

    There is a set of construction-hazard signs on the “pedestrian” half of the Elliot Bay trail off 16th ave w that has been there for months. They seem to have initially been placed to warn trail users of a hole in the path created by a missing utility access plate of some kind, but in the last six months or so have graduated to the status of a permanent solution. In addition to creating a pinch point on a busy trail, the signs are difficult to see in the dark and do not adequately warn of the hazard. What is the correct agency to report this to?

  2. Eli says:

    Just want to say +1 on this. Brian dePlace and colleagues have been awesome.

    I’ve been sending complaints about the construction on 1113 E John (in which they’re closing off an arterial-ish sidewalk several times a day, with a ped detour pointing right into an unassisted arterial street.)

    Just heard back yesterday that: “We have consulted with our Traffic division and have agreed to require a flagger at all times during construction closures. We will work with the contractor to implement this requirement this week.”

  3. Josh says:

    I’m all in favor of better outreach and faster response, but sometimes, having too many contacts is as bad as having none…

    Will reports using the Find It & Fix It app be forwarded to SDOTConstructionHub if that’s the appropriate routing? It already supports photos, geotagging, text description …

  4. Matthew Snyder says:

    Any plans to roll this into the Find It, Fix It app?

    • Patrick Gateley says:

      Using the Find It, Fix It app is like talking to an operator at a call center. They people are the other end are the same folks who answer the City of Seattle’s customer service hotline. If you submit a construction access problem via the app it will be entered into a ticket system and eventually forwarded to the correct department. Bear in mind, some departments are better than others at responding to these tickets than others.

      • Wells says:

        The worst construction for me is AlaskanWay (I believe) deserves the a nomination as worst temporary while deconstruction happens for pedestrian/bikeway temporary route rearrangements not working near safest levels, nor economic necessities considerations producing not much more than a boring carousel ride waiting in line for hours; therefore AWV Blvardino IS your worst achievement of simplest developing Ped/bike travel patterns.

        SDOT built tracks that lessened potential; dual-mode electrification not least missed opportunity toward latest bus models; a NEW paratransit van low-floor/FWD hybrid drivetrains. Hillclimbing ETB operating hilly shortlines with “Minimized Overhead wire” catenary – ETB wires “resembling least overhead wire” streetcar lines, interurban crossings and various settings. Smoothed Overhead wire Seattle hillclimbs, Madison, James, Virginia, Pike/Pine, 5th, Queen Anne/1stAvN, U name it, a most convenient EVBus ridership service efficiency/effectivity to consider or not consider.
        Good grief guys. BERTHA is NOT your friend. PlanB!

        BERTHA is a M O N S T E R
        ArrckaRrrgckarrrgArrrkic….
        DOGBELLSTHEUSA
        DOG BELLS
        THE USA !!

  5. daihard says:

    Thanks for the info. The SDOT has been doing construction work on NE 125th between Roosevelt Way NE and 15th Ave NE, and they have placed several steel plates directly in the bike lanes. I’ve sent my complaint to them using the e-mail address you provided.

    • Josh says:

      Sometimes there’s no alternative to putting a plate in a bike lane, but Seattle specifications have long required that all steel plates be coated with wet-and-dry non-skid coatings, something that many jobsites seem to skimp on.

      “Steel plates shall be coated with non-skid paint or other material to prevent slipping or skidding.” http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pdf/street.pdf

      Also worth noting:

      “Where the street surface is uneven, plates will be bedded on MC-250 asphaltic mix or approved material. Transition shims shall be provided to allow ease of traffic movement over the plate.”

      and

      “Crosswalks to be kept open: All steel plates lying in pedestrian crosswalks or within three (3) feet of pedestrian crosswalks shall meet the current requirements of the ADA for temporary walking surfaces.”

      As is often the case, the rules and specifications are there, implementation is the weak link. Let’s hope direct public feedback makes the rules more effective.

      • Al Dimond says:

        So I suppose the metal plates in the Dexter bike lanes near Mercer are painted appropriately? I’m always surprised how well my traction ends up being there, as I’ve had worse experiences on other metal plates.

      • Josh says:

        I haven’t ridden those plates, but it’s amazing how well anti-skid coatings work, even in the rain. When they’re fresh, the traction is better than on clean asphalt.

      • daihard says:

        Thanks for the info, Josh. They may in fact have non-skid paint on the steel plates on NE 125th. The issue I have with those steel plates is that they are quite a bit above the ground level. They did apply asphalt (MC-250?) to smooth out the gaps, but because of the height difference, you can’t ride over them smoothly unless yo slow down considerably. There may be no alternative to THAT, though.

      • Josh says:

        That’s what “transition shims … to allow ease of traffic movement” should do — give you a smoother ramp up onto the plate.

  6. Don Brubeck says:

    I had fast response when reporting a problem in the temporary under Alaska Way Viaduct in Pioneer Square. Good to have real people to talk to.

    Note that this program only applies in the “construction hub” areas shown on the map. Some previous comments are about areas not in the program areas.

    For areas outside the construction hubs you can use Find It Fix It app or call 684-ROAD for pothole and road repairs.

  7. Rob Pezely says:

    I appreciate that the city is interested to hear feedback. My feedback regards an issue outside of a defined “construction hub”. In the future I will try the Find It Fix It app or call 684-ROAD for pothole and road repairs. Since my feedback could be considered general, I will still share with the email address provided (SDOTConstructionHub@Seattle.gov) and I am also sharing my experience here.

    This past weekend was the end of the construction and detour on the Burke Gilman at City Light’s substation near I-5 and the UW’s substation near 15th Ave NE. All is back to normal now but it is worth debriefing the hazardous situation which lasted for the past few weeks.

    My main frustration with the actual detour was that it was not implemented as described on the Seattle City Light website (http://www.seattle.gov/light/aboutus/construction/release.asp?RN=311). If it had been implemented as described then it might have been safer for all. The implemented detour did not use “traffic cones bolted to the asphalt” as described in the website project plan. Instead the detour only had lightweight, movable markers which each time bowled over by cars, provided no protection to users of the detour.

    During my daily use of the trail detour I routinely wished:
    – the markers protecting the trail detour were bolted down as described in the plan,
    – or the markers were more significant like the orange plastic Jersey barriers used on the other side of the intersection,
    – or the detour crosswalk should have been temporarily painted to increase visibility.

    Burke Gillman trail users had been detoured onto streets while the trail was closed for construction. The trail detour crossed an intersection at which cars have limited right-turn visibility due to a blind-spot caused by an overpass bridge. The implemented detour proved quite dangerous, especially to Westbound trail users. The temporary “multi-direction trail” detour route hugged the shoulder of the road and was protected only by portable, tubular construction markers. On a daily basis many of these markers were bowled over and crushed by auto-traffic who missed the turn. Each time the markers were missing, users who were following the detour were now walking/riding on the wrong side of the street unprotected, as there was almost no warnings to alert drivers. The majority of the markers in other portions of the detour stayed upright, but the most important markers were the ones designating the trail at the blind-turn and it was these that were missing almost every day. Several times on my morning and evening commute over the past few weeks, I took the time to stop and collect stable markers from other portions of the detour to replace the missing ones which had been crushed at the most dangerous corner. The construction workers were not within view of the cones at the dangerous corner so even during work-hours there was no one actively monitoring the detour to restore it each time it was damaged. During the evening hours there was certainly no one monitoring the detour. On a handful of mornings there were one or two walking police officers in the proximity of the detour, which I believe helped the overall situation.

    I called the project contact multiple times during the project to report my concerns and she appeared to listen sincerely. Her focus seemed to be on quickly completing the project to remove the detour as soon as possible rather than modifying the existing detour. I agreed with her that quickly finishing so the detour could be removed seemed like a great goal.

    Of course some common frustrations also existed which this detour may have exaggerated: drivers were rightfully frustrated by any cyclists who did not come to a complete stop at the detour stop signs. Cyclists were rightfully frustrated by drivers who did not come to a complete stop at the stop sign or drivers who only looked left and proceeded with their right turn without seeing bikes to their right behind the concrete wall of the overpass. I do not wish for this to become a debate over rules of the road; I fully support bikes and cars making full and safe stops at their stop signs as marked. What I’m really focusing on is visibility. I believe that it was dangerous for the detour to use such fragile detour markers which multiple times a day the most critical markers were bowled over by cars which left all subsequent users at risk. This was especially frustrating since the project description on the website called for markers which were to be bolted down, which would have reduced the risk.

    I hope that the city hears this general feedback and considers it when implementing future detours.

  8. Hi, I’m posting this comment wearing my project manager hat for the City’s Hack the Commute project, which is related to Access Seattle & the overall mission of keeping the city moving while we face rapid growth and construction. This seems like a problem we might be able to address with Hack the Commute, leveraging technology to make use of data we already have as well as to gather the data we need.

    One idea we’ve already heard from the community is a “Find It, Fix It” for buses and bikes. I’d love to get additional feedback. We’re inviting discussion over on Reddit at r/hackthecommute. If you have other ideas, please reach out.

  9. Ron Parks says:

    I’ve been noticing that near construction sites signs are sometimes put up telling people they must dismount their bikes and walk them. Does anyone know if this is actually legal? The signs look like they are put up by the construction companies and I am not aware of a clause in the city/state law which states that this right to ride on sidewalks can be taken away around construction sites.

    I’ve cross posted this question at http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/02/18/spd-man-attacked-for-biking-on-the-sidewalk-which-is-legal/#comment-657220

  10. Benjamin Bentler says:

    I’ve been riding my bike to downtown from tukwila and I lose tires constantly to glass. Do they clean streets in this area? Who do we contact for that? I know it’s not signs but it’s just as frustrating.

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