SDOT (Slow Down Our Town): Our Master Plan to Make Madison St. Impassible


As one of Post Alley’s prize-winning investigative journalists, I often receive sensational leaks, such as the transcript of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) meeting of June 15, 2022, shown below in its entirety:

Deputy Director (referred to as DD. See footnote for other title abbreviations): We’re getting pressure from the Seattle City Council to drastically curtail traffic on arterial streets. The Council wants Seattle to be a walk-and-bike town. 

ADA: Why have they got themselves against traffic?

DD: Environment and equity. Traffic pollutes, and worse, it encourages high-paying jobs. Madison Street allows highly paid tech workers from Madison Park and stockbrokers from Broadmoor to commute comfortably to downtown.

AADA: What’s wrong with that?

DD: Despite the Amazon tax, there are still too many high-paying jobs in Seattle. The Council maintains that Seattle cannot achieve equity until all these jobs move to Bellevue. Shutting down driving from Madison Street can help move Seattle towards the true equity achieved by Eastern Europe from 1949 until 1989.

DADD: When do we start?

DD: The Council demands that we shut down Madison Street ASAP.

ADD: But we’re SDOT, where ASAP means “As Slow As Possible.”

DD: This is no joking matter.  The Council is threatening to defund SDOT by 50% and turn over street maintenance to social workers and community activists. Unless you offer some ideas for strangling Madison Street, you could lose your jobs. 

AADA: Stop fixing potholes on Madison.

DD: Where have you been? SDOT hasn’t fixed a pothole since 2004.

DADA; Second-Avenue it.

DD: Second-Avenue it?

DADA: Simply repeat what wrecked Second Avenue: Bicycle lanes, parking in the middle of the street, special lights for bike turns.

DD: No good. Even during rush hours, drivers can still get from Stewart to James on Second Avenue with only one stop.  The Council now wants three parking lanes in the middle of Second Avenue. Any better ideas?

ADDA: One-way street may be the answer, so make Madison Street one way going east.

DD: Tried that. In 2005 the Council voted to make all north-south streets one way going North. The voters revolted and passed an initiative repealing the law.

DADA: The same occurred when the Council voted to name every street “Joe Hill Street” after the labor activist sentenced to death in 1913. The voters repealed it.

DAD: That’s what happens when you let voters interfere with technical engineering decisions

ADADD: I’ve got it. Engineering! SDOT prides itself on engineering.  We launch a major engineering project on Madison Street.

AADD: I like it. SDOT must make street improvements to Madison Street to allow King County Metro to operate the service as RapidRide G Line from downtown to Madison Park. 

DD: That should make it impossible to drive on Madison for at least 10 years. What are  first steps?

ADAD: Block all busy intersections with “Street Closed” and “Do Not Enter” signs.

ADADA: Then post detour signs that direct cars to drive the wrong way down one-way streets.

DDD: Create long line of traffic stanchions. Randomly rearrange them at noon.

AADDD: Make them just wide enough for a motorcycle.

DAD: At 2 pm knock every fifth stanchion into the traffic lane.

DDAA: Add two one-way hobby horse lanes with Hobbyhorse traffic lights on Madison exclusively for kids under ten.

ADDA: Purchase dozens of CAT Excavators, Articulated Trucks, Asphalt Pavers, Backhoe Loaders, Side-Steer Track Loaders, Motor Graders, Large Dozers, Wheel Tractor Scrapers and Mining Trucks. Park them on both sides of Madison.

DA: And seldom use them. This lowers driver’s morale and resistance.

ADDA: But occasionally use Excavators, Backhoe Loaders, Tractor Scrappers, and Track loaders to dig holes four feet by eight feet by two feet deep in the middle of the street.

ADA: Then fill the holes up with rubble the next week. This further annihilates driver morale.

DDAA: Give a few people shovels and have them walk around aimlessly.

DDAA: For every aimless person with a shovel add four men standing around smoking and talking.

DA: That is already in their union contract,

DDAA: Then make it eight people talking and smoking.

DD: What great ideas. We can keep traffic off Madison until 2043.

ADADA: Why do we have to rush? WashDOT will not allow traffic in Montlake-520 Bridge intersection until 2160. 

SDOT Title Abbreviations:

DD          Deputy Director

ADD       Assistant Deputy Director

DAD      Deputy Assistant Director

ADAD   Assistant Deputy Assistant Director

DADD    Deputy Assistant Deputy Director

AADD    Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Director

ADADD  Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Deputy Director

ADDAD  Assistant Deputy to the Deputy Assistant Director

AADDD  Assistant Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Directpor

DAADD  Deputy Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Director

ADADD  Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Deputy Director

Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford, the former CEO of KING Broadcasting, has written humor for and the Huffington Post. He is the author of "The CEO Pay Machine."


  1. This is so true. I misread some orange traffic cones in Madison Valley, was forced into an involuntary left turn, and ended up in Renton.

  2. Sadly, this is all true. And here’s a little-known fact. Madison is (or was) the only street in the entire city of Seattle that goes (or went) directly from Lake Washington to
    Puget Sound.

  3. It’s hard to imagine anything coming from SDOT that is rapid. And for a great essay on the history of this street including its cable cars read the East Madison St. piece in

  4. When equipment is used , it must be driven backward in to remaining traffic lanes every 3 minutes . The cops that have been deaccessioned may keep their uniforms and are eligible for traffic duty further turning law abiding folks anti Cop.

  5. Some terrific ideas here. Some possible enhancements. A. Lengthen pedestrian “Green Light” crossing periods so that only one (or ideally, fewer) vehicles can successfully make a 90 degree turn off of any downtown street. We could expand downtown gridlock from morning to evening rush hour. B. Encourage “Graffitti Artists” to become even more adventuresome and completely obscure all I-5 Exit signs between the Spokane Street Bridge and the University Bridge. If drivers don’t know how to get where they want to go, it should not be the CIty’s responsibility to help them..

      • I empathize with Mr Carlson. I was also misdirected by orange cones and arrows. Found myself over The I90 in Cle Elem. And similar to Mr Norberg, have experienced in my windshield backward/reverse driving equipment.
        I now take the #11 teeth rattling bus. But am now discouraged to read it will not continue all the way to Mad Park.
        I tried to fill out the application you attached, but found too many double letters, so tuned the NCAA back in.

  6. Perhaps the Council will follow the example set by the City of Kenmore. It’s no minor feat to spend millions strangling a major arterial like 68th / Juanita Dr., but they’ve done their very best. Well, actually, are doing their best. They had the ‘Grand Opening ‘ about a year ago but here we are, some 4-5 years on, still dodging the construction crews. It not every city that can stretch out a project that should only take a year like this. It takes a special kind of project management to both throttle car traffic over the only road crossing the Sammamish Slough, and take forever doing it.

  7. Unfortunately, the extremists at SDOT are really doing this. I pity any stranger trying to drive at night the curving, lane-changing, trolley-tracking, bike-laning Broadway from Boren to John.

    But by God, we’re going to have dedicated bike lanes—even if few bike nazis use them.

  8. When I hear mention of road projects of Seattle Dept. of Transportation, such as Madison Street mess, it suggests an observation by physicist Ralph Lapp.
    He was describing the chaotic control room at Pennsylvania’s ill fated Three-Mile-Island nuclear plant.
    “A saboteur would have helped.”

  9. I usually use “Slowing Down Our Traffic” for SDOT, and my other acronym of choice is SFRD – Stupid F****** Road Diets.

  10. What a bunch of nonsense and straw man arguments. I love car brained, entitled drivers ranting like lunatics at the thought of allowing those taking public transit, walking or cycling to do so safely and quickly.

    • …Car brained, entitled drivers ranting like lunatics. Nice Insults! I would respectfully point out to you that you are missing the point. No one is against allowing those taking public transit, walking or cycling to do so safely and quickly. What is at issue is the idea that you need to choke off or eliminate car traffic to accomplish this. Some folks simply question the thinking around not allowing those driving vehicles to do so safely and quickly when the effort is to narrow, slow, or eliminate car thoroughfares with multi-thousand daily car counts in favor of tens of walkers and bicycles. The cars don’t just go away, you know. They divert to alternate routes which are often residential side streets. -Less safe and slower. Besides, this is one of the funnier pieces you will ever read on Post Alley. We all can certainly use the humor even if most of it (sadly) is based in truth.

      • You claim to not be against public transit, walking or cycling but you are against any step that will make those activities safe and efficient. The fact is that the faster a car goes, the greater the chance that a collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist will result in serious injury or death. Slowing down traffic and adding traffic calming measures is definitely inconvenient for drivers — but so what? It also works — that’s not under debate. Look at any city that actually cares about pedestrians and cyclists, and those taking public transit — like say, Amsterdam and Barcelona, and such measures have objectively worked there. Compare their traffic fatality rates to ours any way.


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