Michelle Baruchman, THE SEATTLE TIMES
Nearly 20 miles of Seattle streets will permanently close to most vehicle traffic by the end of May, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday.
The streets had been closed temporarily to through traffic to provide more space for people to walk and bike at a safe distance apart during the coronavirus pandemic.
Now the closures will continue even after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order is lifted.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will replace the temporary closure signs on the so-called Stay Healthy Streets with permanent markings, guiding drivers to other routes.
The program, which has rolled out in phases, has been implemented in the Aurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Central District, West Seattle, Greenwood, Othello, Rainier Beach and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
Residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers, and emergency response vehicles can continue to use the streets, but no through traffic is allowed.
“Our rapid response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 have been transformative in a number of places across the city,” SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said. “Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.”
More streets could be closed to through traffic in the coming months, depending on community demand. SDOT will evaluate streets based on whether they reach dense areas, allow people to stay close to home and keep parks from getting crowded, among other factors.