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City of Seattle Streets

Permission is required to use City of Seattle "right of way" (streets, alleys, and sidewalks) for event activity, granted by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
The Street Use section of the Special Event Application required detailed information about what streets you are using and when.

Special Event permit fees are assigned as part of the Special Event Permit based on

  1. classification of each street or intersection used
  2. number of segments (blocks) of each street being used, and
  3. length of time each street or intersection "segment" is used.

Rates based on street classification can be found on the Special Event Permit Fees page.

Street Classifications

The City of Seattle classifies streets according to different levels of emphasis on traffic movement versus direct access to property. At one end of the hierarchy, a freeway emphasizes traffic movement while restricting access to adjacent land. At the other end of the hierarchy, a local street provides easy access to adjacent residential, commercial, and industrial land uses.

In general, Seattle streets are classified as one of the following:

Principal Arterials serve as the principal route for the movement of traffic through the City. Connects Interstate Freeways to major activity centers, to minor and collector arterial streets and directly to traffic destinations.

Minor Arterials distribute traffic from Principal Arterials to Collector Arterials and Access streets, directly to secondary traffic generators such as community shopping areas, high schools, community centers and athletic fields, and to serve trips between neighborhoods within a community.

Collector Arterials collect and distribute traffic from Principal and Minor Arterials to Access Streets or directly to local destinations. Collector arterials are typically located within neighborhood boundaries and serve small group of stores, schools, small apartment complexes, and residential land uses.

Access Streets are not part of the arterial network. They provide direct access from the arterial network to local land uses in both commercial and residential zones.

Arterial Intersections are street intersections along your event's footprint or route not already a part of your footprint or route that are crossed or have traffic revisions/closures. (Rate per intersection is the same as Arterial Classifications above).

Downtown Core

The downtown core (see map below) is the area bounded by Denny Way to the north, Yesler Way to the south, the Elliott Bay waterfront to the west, and Interstate 5 to the east, and the area bounded by Roy Street to the north, Denny Way to the south, 1st Avenue North to the west and Aurora Avenue North to the east.

All streets in the downtown core are considered Principal Arterials for the purpose of Special Event permitting. There are restrictions on use of streets in the downtown core that may not apply to other streets in Seattle.


Rush Hour Restrictions

All arterial streets and all streets within the downtown core cannot be closed or modified during peak traffic hours:

Monday-Friday 6:00 AM - 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Emergency Vehicle Access Lanes

All street closures must allow for an emergency vehicle access lane at least 20 feet in width the entire length of the street closure. No structures or items may be set up in the emergency lane and no fencing may block the emergency lane, except under very strict requirements set by the Fire Marshal's Office.


Sidewalks are considered right of way, and their use is billed along with a closed street when used (no additional use fees). Access must be maintained to businesses and residents at all times unless authorized otherwise between you and the business or resident.

If your event activity is solely on sidewalks, minimum pedestrian bypass is required per Seattle Municipal Code. Some sidewalk activity does not require a Special Event Permit, but may require another SDOT use permit. See SDOT Public Space Management Team for more information.


SDOT operates and maintains over 149 bridges throughout Seattle, including four movable bridges. Three of SDOT's movable bridges are draw bridges: Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge, and University Bridge. The fourth movable bridge is the Spokane Street Bridge, which is a swing bridge.

WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) operates the First Avenue South Bridges (two parallel bridges at the City of Seattle's southern border) and the Montlake Bridge, both movable bridges.

King County operates the South Park Bridge.

If your event requires that a modification to the normal operations of a movable bridge for any period of time, you must contact both the agency that owns and operates the bridge (SDOT, WSDOT, King County) and the US Coast Guard. Note: The US Coast Guard requires a minimum of 135 days before your event in order to consider the bridge modification. See the US Coast Guard's website for information on requirements and application.

In addition to the bridges listed above, these are various viaducts that are part of Interstate 5, owned and operated by Washington State, and there are railroad bridges owned and operated by Burlington Northern Railroad. Contact the SDOT Special Events liaison for information.

Roadway Structures

Washington State owns the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Battery Street Tunnel, and Aurora Bridge, all of which are part of State Route 99. The City of Seattle performs some maintenance on SR99 under an agreement with the State.

Washington State Roadways

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) owns and controls Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue), Interstate 5, Interstate 90, Interstate 405, and Highway 520. To use and/or close any of these streets, including the on- and off-ramps, you must receive a permit from WSDOT. For any event requesting use of interstate facilities (express lanes, interchange ramp closures, etc) WSDOT must submit a request to FHWA. Contact Bonnie Nau.

For inquiries regarding event use of the SR99 Tunnel, please contact Contact Bonnie Nau with WSDOT.

Street Cleaning or Sweeping

Requests for street cleaning or sweeping should be made by the event applicant as soon as possible. Requests made less than 30 days before the event date may not be able to be accommodated.

Make a street cleaning/sweeping request by either calling 206-684-ROAD (7623), or submit it via the City's "Find-it Fix-it app", available here:

Traffic and Parking Control Devices

Directional signage, including street closure signs, traffic detour signs, no-parking barricades, traffic cones, meter permits, etc. may be required by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) as part of the Traffic Control Plan. All traffic and parking control are at the expense of the permit holder and not included in the Special Event Permit Fee or City services. To locate a local vendor, search the web for "Seattle traffic control sign vendor."

Traffic Control Plan

SDOT provides a traffic control plan as part of the Special Event Permit for all events operating on streets classified as Access, and for most historical events. The traffic control plan will include all signage required to be set up as part of your street use permission.

If you are a new event operating on streets classified as Arterial, you may be required to provide a traffic control plan in addition to, or in place of, the maps provided in your Special Event Permit Application.


Construction Projects


WSDOT Northwest Region

US Coast Guard 13th District


Special Events

Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5752, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94708, Seattle, WA, 98124-4708
Phone: (206) 684-8017
Fax: (206) 684-7025

The City of Seattle plays a strong role in helping event planners bring people together safely and successfully in both city-wide and neighborhood events.