University/Cowen Paving Project

Updated: July 2, 2018

What’s happening now?

In July 2018, we are beginning construction for the University/ Cowen Paving Project. Work is predicted to last 4-5 months and we are working with the community and businesses to minimize construction impacts to the extent feasible. To learn more about the improvements to the street, please read our project factsheet.

We share regular updates via email in addition to distributing flyers in advance of work near affected properties. Sign up to receive project emails. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our project outreach team via email or phone.

Continue reading to learn more about the details of the project and its background.


University Way NE/Cowen Pl NE is a collector arterial serving approximately 4,000 drivers on an average day and several King County Metro bus routes. Between NE 50th St and NE Ravenna Blvd, University Way NE is a commercial and residential street that supports the University Heights Center, a community P-Patch, shops and restaurants, and the University District Neighborhood Farmers Market on Saturdays.

existing conditions photos side by side

We identified University Way NE/ Cowen Pl NE as a street that needs to be in better condition to handle both the residential and commercial needs of the community it serves. To make the road safer and resolve user conflicts, the southbound bike lane will be widened, and pedestrian crossings will be improved with the addition of all-way stop signs, marked crosswalks, curb ramps and sidewalk upgrades.

Each year, we pave arterial streets in poor condition to make them safer, smoother, and to extend their useful life. We prioritize paving projects based on pavement condition, traffic volume, geographic equity, cost, and opportunities for grants or coordination with other projects in the area. Repaving streets also creates opportunities to improve street safety and move people and goods more efficiently in a growing Seattle.

Read more about our current paving projects.

Project Description

As part of our paving program, we'll repave approximately 0.5 miles along University Way NE/Cowen Pl NE to make it safer and more comfortable to travel on and to extend the lifespan of the pavement. Paving is an opportunity to cost-effectively update street designs to promote safety, build features called for in citywide transportation plans, and coordinate with other projects. We developed concepts for street designs along these corridors according to the needs of different users and the amount of space available.

In addition to repaving, work also includes curb ramp and sidewalk corner enhancements, spot sidewalk repair, and drainage improvements. University/Cowen will restripe the existing layout and maintain current street operations and design.

Project map

We’re also planning to repave 15th Ave NE in 2019, from 55th Ave to Lake City Way NE, which will include street design changes, including protected bike lanes that will connect to the growing northeast Seattle bike network.

History and Background

Since the summer of 2016, we've shared street design concepts with the community and asked how you get around your neighborhood. We sent mailers, offered an online survey, held an open house, dropped off materials, and visited businesses with door-to-door outreach.

We heard from hundreds of people about transportation safety and we appreciate everyone who took time to talk to us. Your feedback helped shape our design proposal for University Way NE and Cowen Pl NE. Here's what we heard from you:

  • Concerns about speeding
  • Desire to cross street more easily
  • Interest in using more transit and biking
  • Interest in maintaining parking
  • Discourage cut-through traffic
  • Desire for turn pockets and signals at key intersections
  • Preference for "protected" bike lanes
  • Interest in maintaining current operations of the University District Farmers Market

In addition to taking community feedback, we analyzed traffic and parking data and reviewed freight, transit, bike, and pedestrian master plan recommendations. Some of our findings* included:

  • Vehicle volumes: 4,000/average day
  • Vehicle speed: 29 MPH (85th percentile speed),
  • Collisions: 185 in 5 years
  • Peak hour parking restrictions: 7-9 AM (southbound) and 4-6 PM (northbound)

*Findings described are for University/Cowen Paving Project. Learn about data for 15th Ave NE paving in the Materials section at the bottom of this page.


This is our anticipated project timeline for University/Cowen but dates are subject to change.

Summer/fall 2016

Northeast paving project planning and outreach

Spring 2017

Northeast paving project street concept design and outreach

Summer 2017

Begin University/Cowen design

Summer/fall 2017

Outreach to residents, businesses, and property owners along University/Cowen

Fall 2017

Finish University/Cowen design

Winter 2017/2018

Pre-construction coordination with community for University/Cowen

Winter/spring 2018

Begin University/Cowen construction

Fall 2018

Complete University/Cowen construction


This project is part of our Arterial and Asphalt and Concrete (AAC) Paving Program. Design and construction of our paving projects, as well as the safety and mobility improvements shown, are funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, approved by Seattle voters in November 2015. We also seek additional funding through grants, when available.

Get Involved

We're committed to engaging with the community throughout the life of the project. We want everyone to have the opportunity to engage with us and ask questions. Outreach is being done throughout the planning, design, and construction phases and here are some of the ways to get involved during the different stages of a project's life:

The Four Stages of Getting Involved

  1. Planning

    What we do: Collect traffic data, review plans and gather community experiences to define options.
  2. Design

    What we do: Share updates as more details are know.
  3. Construction

    What we do: Provide construction schedule, expected impacts, and a contact for questions.
  4. Evaluation

    What we do: Gather feedback from those that work, live, play and travel near the completed project, and collect traffic data.
  • We conducted an online survey to gather feedback about how you travel around your neighborhood and what is working and what's not with these streets.
  • We shared draft street design concepts that included what we learned from the survey, as well as pedestrian, bike, freight, and transit master plan recommendations, and traffic data at two open houses.
  • We held a public comment period to gather feedback from residents, commuters, and businesses about their ideas on the draft concepts.
  • We held stakeholder briefings with our modal advisory boards, businesses, community groups, and schools and visited businesses along the project streets to understand their needs.

June 2016

Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board presentation

Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board presentation

July 2016

Seattle Freight Advisory Board presentation

October 2016

University District Farmer's Market booth

Hosted Public Open House

November 2016

U-District Livability Open House booth

Door-to-door business outreach

Wedgwood Community Council presentation

Roosevelt High School presentation

December 2016

Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board presentation

May 2017

Ravenna Bryant Community Association presentation

Summer 2017

Begin project design

August 2017

Property owner outreach

February 2018

University District Partnership presentation

March 2018

Pre-construction business survey

April 2018

Pre-construction door to door business outreach

June 2018

Door to door business outreach - distributed construction notices


To view a PDF of project-related materials, please click on the links provided below.

Outreach materials

Project planning

Need a translation?

If you need this information translated, please call (206) 256-5458.

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Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.