Chief Sealth Trail Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Rendering of the planned new sidewalk path and green infrastructure along the Chief Sealth Trail, near Wing Luke Elementary.
Rendering of the planned new sidewalk path and green infrastructure along the Chief Sealth Trail, near Wing Luke Elementary.

Project description

Reducing stormwater pollution and improving drainage

More than 12 million pounds of pollution are carried into our water bodies through stormwater runoff each year. Stormwater that falls on the roofs, streets, and parking lots in your neighborhood can pick up harmful pollutants before eventually draining into Lake Washington. The pollutants can harm fish, wildlife, and our ecosystems.

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) plans to build new green stormwater infrastructure at the intersection of S. Kenyon St and the Chief Sealth Trail to manage stormwater runoff in the Othello neighborhood. This project will be a green space that uses special soil and deep-rooted plants to temporarily hold and filter stormwater. The project will help protect Lake Washington’s water quality by filtering stormwater from about 25 acres of neighborhood at the top of the hill. It will also provide a new green open space for the community and improve the function of the downstream storm system in Othello.

This project is in partnership with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and their Safe Routes to School program, which has already completed a new sidewalk at this location. SPU is also partnering with Seattle City Light and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture to enhance the area with additional public art. 


SPU’s green stormwater infrastructure will be located at the intersection of S. Kenyon St and the Chief Sealth Trail. This is the area east of Wing Luke Elementary, along 39th Ave S. Aerial map of the project area.

What's happening now?

The project team has recently finished the options analysis phase and identified a preferred design option which will advance into full design. The preferred option combines features from preliminary options and incorporates feedback received from in-person and online community engagement efforts earlier this year. The SPU team is also in the early stages of incorporating new public art installations into the project design in partnership with Seattle City Light and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. More details about the new plans will be shared as the design process continues.

SDOT has completed their Safe Routes to School sidewalk in this area. SPU has worked closely with SDOT to make sure the new sidewalk is compatible with future installation of green stormwater infrastructure. The green stormwater infrastructure will be built in a second phase of development, likely in 2025 or 2026.

Community benefits

This project seeks to bring multiple benefits to the Othello neighborhood and surrounding ecosystems, including:

  • Improved stormwater drainage 
  • Healthier creek, lake, and saltwater ecosystems
  • Landscape improvements, new plantings
  • New public art installations

By partnering with SDOT, SPU can improve open green spaces, align with community priorities for better pedestrian safety and connections, and enhance use of the Chief Sealth Trail. 

What options were considered?

SPU recently completed a public engagement and options analysis process, which considered the advantages and disadvantages for two possible design options. Main distinctions between the two options are provided below.

  • Option 1 – a smaller facility that provides water quality treatment.
  • Option 2 – a larger facility that provides water quality treatment as well as stormwater runoff and flood storage improvements.
  • See more details about the two options.

Both options offered some interchangeable features such as different seating choices or pedestrian paths. The preferred alternative moving forward to design incorporates elements from both options and several community priorities we heard during engagement.

Community involvement

The SPU team engaged with the nearby community throughout January 2023 which included several in-person events with Wing Luke Elementary Parent and Teacher Organization (PTO) and the New Holly Lunar New Year Celebration. Further outreach efforts included neighborhood signage, postcard mailers, emails, and social media advertising. These engagements asked the community to complete an online survey to share their feedback on what elements were important and meaningful between the preliminary design options. Summaries of the survey and engagement results are available in the Project Documents section below. 

As the design progresses, SPU will be sharing more information and there will be more opportunities for community feedback at key milestones in the design process. Please check back as we update our community events calendar or sign up for our project mailing list to stay up to date.

  • 2022 – Early planning begins
  • Early 2023 – Choose preferred project option
  • Mid-2023 – Begin design
  • Early-2025 – Start of construction

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.