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Mayor Harrell and SDOT Break Ground on East Marginal Way Improvement Project Supported by Levy to Move Seattle and Partners

Seattle (April 2, 2024) – Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell joined the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to celebrate the start of construction on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project. The upgraded streets will support the weight of heavy freight loads and include protected biking facilities, better serving our industrial businesses and enhancing safety for all travelers.

“Improving East Marginal Way isn’t just about upgrading infrastructure – it’s about investing in the safety and vitality of our region’s economic backbone,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This project improves the flow of people and goods, supporting local businesses, job growth, and community vibrancy. Thank you to our partners who made these improvements possible – the Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, the Transportation Improvement Board, our congressional delegation, and the Federal Highway Administration, as well as the people of Seattle who supported this project by voting for the transportation levy in 2015.”

E Marginal Way was a priority in the 2015 Transportation Levy to Move Seattle, and the $7.1 million allocated for the project reflects the importance of this corridor to the regional economy, local job creation, and connections between major destinations. This collaborative project results from partnerships with the Port of Seattle, the SODO Business Improvement Area, the maritime community, freight haulers, federal and state transportation agencies, and the biking community.

Key Project Elements:

  • Innovative Freight Mobility: Signal upgrades and weigh-in-motion technology to enhance access to Port and industrial lands, facilitating the flow of essential goods.
  • Bicycle Enhancements: Concrete barrier-protected bike lanes to reduce conflicts between people biking and truck drivers and bike crossings with signals to create better connections.
  • Vision Zero Commitment: Street designs that support the City’s goal of achieving zero traffic-related deaths or serious injuries. Learn more on our website.
  • Strong Partnerships: Collaboration with maritime, freight, and biking communities to understand their needs and support from our funding partners to make investments in Seattle.

“As we maintain and modernize East Marginal Way, we’re creating a multimodal corridor where trucks and bikes can travel safely in their own separate space,” said SDOT Director Greg Spotts. “In the process, we are upgrading the roadway to handle heavy freight, replacing underground water lines, and collaborating with rail to better share the limited space along this essential waterside corridor.”

This important project moved forward thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Congressman Adam Smith, and additional partners supporting essential safety and freight improvement. Additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, Puget Sound Regional Council, Washington State Transportation Improvement Board, Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, and Port of Seattle.

Since 2016, the Levy to Move Seattle has helped the City of Seattle secure over $1 billion in state and federal grants, doubling the value of Seattle taxpayer dollars and allowing SDOT to build even more improvements. Stable local funding helps secure support from state and federal funders.

Later this week, Mayor Harrell will share a draft proposal to renew the transportation levy and address critical safety and maintenance needs across the city, including freight improvements. The levy renewal would fund repairs, maintenance, and modernizations to keep people and freight moving safely and reliably.

The levy proposal will allocate millions specifically for freight improvements and paving on major truck streets, supporting delivering goods and services, and focusing repair on the 20 percent of major truck streets in poor condition identified as part of SDOT’s data-driven Asset Management Strategy.

The levy renewal proposal builds upon the significant groundwork and community input that is shaping the future of transportation in the Seattle Transportation Plan.

Project Benefits:

The E Marginal Way Corridor Improvements Project focuses on three primary transportation challenges: Safety, mobility, and street maintenance, aiming to:

  • Enhance safety and reliability in the movement of people and goods
  • Support freight loads by rebuilding E Marginal Way S to heavy-haul standards
  • Promote efficiency through signal modification and intelligent transportation systems
  • Improve safety by separating non-motorized modes and vehicle traffic

North Segment Improvement Features:

  • New heavy-haul street with 15-inch-thick concrete between Jack Perry Park and S Spokane St
  • Two-way protected bike lane on the east side of the street with concrete barriers and fencing
  • Upgraded traffic signal at S Hanford St and a new signal at S Horton St
  • Rebuilt sidewalk on the west side of E Marginal Way S
  • New earthquake-resistant water main from S Horton St to S Massachusetts St
  • Weigh-in-motion system for freight

The north project segment, from S Spokane Street to S Atlantic Street, is the first segment to complete design and start construction. The City will upgrade utilities and install a new watermain before the road is repaved. Future project phases will continue to improve safety and mobility for all people using E Marginal Way S and will progress as funding is available.

For ongoing updates on construction progress and project details, please visit our project website.

What People Are Saying

“Trade only moves as fast as trucks on East Marginal Way. It is a linchpin not just for commuters — it connects nearly 200,000 residents to roughly 75,000 industrial and maritime jobs – but also for freight, linking 3,700 heavy-duty trucks between three port terminals and two intermodal rail yards every day. I advocated for this project to receive a federal RAISE grant because expanding East Marginal Way will ultimately improve safety for all road users, ease freight access at the Port and local industrial businesses, and reduce congestion in the SoDo neighborhood.”Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

“I’m thrilled to see construction begin on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project. I fought to secure $20 million in funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant program in support of this project. I have advocated for funding to move these critical infrastructure enhancements forward throughout my tenure in Congress. The federal government’s investment in the improvements will bolster regional economic growth, improve transportation and freight mobility, create a protected bike lane, and enhance safety for all who travel on East Marginal Way. I appreciate the partnership of Secretary Buttigieg, the City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle and all the advocates who brought this project to fruition.”Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

 “Today’s groundbreaking is an exciting step towards creating a transportation system that better serves our growing region. The East Marginal Way South Corridor Improvement project will improve safety, accessibility, and mobility for the people who live and work in the area and will strengthen supply chains to the benefit of our regional and state economy. This project was made possible by coordinated efforts of federal, state, and local partners and federal funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants program. This investment reflects the Biden Administration’s historic commitment to rebuilding America’s transportation and infrastructure and strengthening our economy and competitiveness.” – Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)

“The Federal Highway Administration is proud to partner with the City of Seattle on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project to help reduce supply chain bottlenecks and improve operations along this important freight route. This project will improve traffic flow at some of the city’s busiest freight intersections, while also improving safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and others, reducing air pollution and improving environmental sustainability.” – Shailen Bhatt, Federal Highway Administrator

“The Port of Seattle Commission is committed to advancing investments that promote the mobility of goods and people throughout our region, ultimately enhancing our competitiveness in the global marketplace. The East Marginal Way Improvement Project will not only improve transportation options for commuters, ensuring safety for pedestrians and cyclists, but also enhance freight mobility, driving our region’s economy as the critical transportation hub for maritime trade.” Hamdi Mohamed, President, Port of Seattle Commission

“Today is a momentous day for multimodal transportation and commerce. With today’s groundbreaking on the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project, the City reaffirms its commitment to building safe, efficient freight corridors for the benefit of all users and modes. As early supporters of this project, the SODO Business Improvement Area is pleased to see this work begin, and we eagerly look forward to a safer, more connected SODO when a revitalized East Marginal Way opens in 2026.”– Erin Goodman, Executive Director, SODO Business Improvement Area,

“The Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board selected this project because of its significance in handling heavy truck traffic and the opportunity to enhance safety for the community in this vital economic hub for Seattle. We’re proud to join with the City, Port, and federal government to fund this critical freight route for the State of Washington.” – Temple Lentz, Chair, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board

“Thank you to the Biden administration and Senator Cantwell for making these infrastructure dollars available, and to SDOT and Mayor Harrell for prioritizing this critical corridor for improvements that will positively transform the experience of biking, walking, and rolling between downtown and West Seattle, Georgetown, and South Seattle. Currently, people must bicycle alongside large freight trucks and high-speed traffic, which prevents many people from bicycling here. When we make our streets safer for people bicycling, more people ride bikes and we increase safety for everyone–including people driving.” – Lee Lambert, Executive Director, Cascade Bicycle Club

“We are excited to see work begin! The project will be a catalyst for increasing the number of people biking instead of driving from West Seattle and South Park to downtown and beyond. Separation of bike and truck traffic will make it safe and predictable. Bike, freight, and port stakeholders collaborated to support a road design that will keep cyclists safe and goods moving. We recognized our shared interests in safety, efficiency, and resilience for our roadways and seaport. We worked to understand and accommodate each other’s needs, to convince elected officials, to obtain funding, and this allowed SDOT to arrive at a great design.” – Don Brubeck, West Seattle Bike Connections