Areaways Program

Updated: April 2024

What's happening now?

The current phase of the Pioneer Square Areaways program continues our work to keep the public as safe as possible by minimizing stress on potentially vulnerable areaways and creating new freight routes and parking spaces away from areaways.

Following our phase 1 work in 2019, phase 2 in spring 2020 focuses on S Jackson St curb lane restrictions and S Main St upgrades. 

As part of our comprehensive assessment of Pioneer Square's historic areaways, S Jackson St emerged as having both potentially vulnerable areaways and curb lanes that allowed heavy vehicles at the streetcar stop. Through an abundance of caution, we have decided to implement curb lane restrictions on S Jackson St that effectively close the street to heavy vehicles between 1st Ave S and 2nd Ave S. To allow local access for deliveries on S Main St, we demolished the decommissioned waterfront trolley platform on S Main St in April 2020. 

Map of upcoming work to protect areaways in Pioneer Square

S Jackson St: 1st Ave S to 2nd Ave S

  • Heavy vehicles will be restricted from driving along or turning onto S Jackson St in this 2-block section.
  • New signs will be installed as soon as early June, alerting heavy vehicle drivers to the new restrictions. These signs will be similar to the signs already posted on 1st Ave S.

S Main St: 1st Ave S to 2nd Ave S 

  • Before imposing the curb lane restrictions on S Jackson St, we opened the center lanes on S Main St to heavy vehicles to maintain local access for deliveries (unless otherwise restricted by posted signs).
  • In April 2020, we removed the trolley platform on S Main St to increase street access and deliveries to Pioneer Square. The awning, railing, and other parts of the trolley platform were stored for potential future uses.

The map below shows the new network of freight routes for heavy vehicles entering and exiting Pioneer Square. 

Map of inbound and outbound freight map for Pioneer Square


Pioneer Square is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. While the neighborhood's historic streets are built on solid foundations, many of its sidewalks aren't. Unlike most sidewalks in the city, these sidewalks aren't built on top of solid ground; instead, they're hollow underneath, creating unique spaces called areaways.

Areaway cross section

Schematic of an areaway

In 2018, we conducted a structural analysis of the underground areaways in Pioneer Square. This analysis highlighted critical areaway structural vulnerabilities and helped us map potentially vulnerable areaways throughout the neighborhood.

We've made spot repairs in some locations in recent years, but we need to take a systematic approach moving forward. Our priority is to keep residents and businesses safe, so we're taking some preliminary steps to reduce the load on the areaways and prevent further issues, while maintaining reliable access for people and goods in the neighborhood.

With an abundance of caution, we're changing the rules around parking and driving heavy vehicles in the neighborhood. Heavy vehicles can't drive or park next to the sidewalks in the areas of Pioneer Square where a vulnerable areaway exists.

Phase 1 of this work, completed in 2019, included the following:

  • Heavy vehicles* are restricted to the inside lanes on 1st Ave from Marion St to Railroad Way S. In those areas, right turns are restricted.
  • Heavy vehicles are restricted from using general-purpose curb space with an adjacent areaway
  • Commercial vehicle load zones were relocated to curb space that does not have a vulnerable areaway below.

* Vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

What's next?

Throughout 2020, we'll add to our existing monitoring system and continue a complete assessment of the areaways to determine a long-term plan of action to repair necessary areas.

Pioneer Square heavy vehicle and loading lane restrictions


Phase 2 fact sheet (May 2020)

Heavy vehicle loading and lane restrictions map

Heavy vehicle inbound and outbound route map

Phase 1 fact sheet (December 2019)


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.