Final 50 Feet: Urban Goods Delivery System

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Final 50 Feet: Urban Goods Delivery System
GCTC logo 344x80.png
Photo by Anna Bovbjerg: SCTL Center Research Asst., student MSc(Eng.), University of Washington
Team Organizations University of Washington
Team Leaders Greta Knappenberger
Anne Goodchild
Participating Municipalities Seattle WA
Status Launched
Document None


The Final 50 Feet program looks at methods to improve delivery at the end of the supply chain, such as loading areas, traffic control and street design. We will pilot low-cost and high-value actions to optimize operations of goods. This will help us understand, maintain and enhance safer and efficient deliveries throughout a city and region.


Moving people and goods have historically been considered very separate needs. As e-commerce and travel options rapidly change transportation activities, conversations about each need to join so we can successfully share use of limited spaces in dense urban environments.


SDOT and the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab (UFL) have a partnership with the goal of improving goods delivery in Seattle. Two key goals have been identified early for the Final 50 Feet program, which looks at ways to improve delivery at the end of the supply chain, such as loading areas, traffic control and street design.

For reference, below are a sample of articles that have made local and national news

  1. Logisticians Join Academics and Local Government to Tackle Seattle Urban Cargo and e-commerce
  2. Costco, Nordstrom, UPS join researchers to tackle last mile delivery
  3. UW research lab hopes to solve delivery problems in downtown Seattle

Major Requirements

The program includes analyzing processes, developing potential solutions, and piloting operational improvements in the final 50’ of the urban goods delivery system in a city. The final 50’ of the urban delivery system begins with the city-owned curb, commercial vehicle load zone, or sidewalk, extends through privately-owned building freight bays, and may end in the common areas within a building such as the lobby.

  • Data Collection & Analysis: The first step is to gather data on how people and goods are interacting. The urban goods delivery system includes both public and private facilities. Surprisingly, there isn't a lot of current information that tells us about modern shopping habits, delivery information technologies, or how building design affects deliveries. While street parking facilities are well documented in Seattle’s databases, off-street private facilities are not. UFL researchers spent last autumn collecting data on off-street private goods delivery facilities in downtown Seattle. The team utilized SDOT’s data to begin developing a multi-layer GIS map of truck load/unload locations in all 523 blocks of downtown including Belltown, the commercial core, Pioneer Square, International District, South Lake Union, and Uptown Urban Centers. They compiled GIS coordinates and infrastructure characteristics of all deliverable freight loading bays within buildings.
  • Data Compilation: Next, they combine the original data with existing GIS layers of the city’s curbside commercial vehicle load zones and alleys to create a comprehensive urban delivery system map. It will be used to quantify the accessibility of land use and building types to the delivery system.
  • Process Flow: Additionally, steps are in included for collecting original data to create process flow maps of the Final 50’ activities for the 5 types of buildings in the city: a hotel, historic building, residential tower, office tower, and a retail center. This analysis will enable researchers to identify process steps that contribute the most to truck dwell time and failed deliveries, model what-if scenarios for various solutions and determine promising improvements to pilot test in Seattle.
  • Solution Development: Next, we need to identify changes to help solve issues such as congestion and collisions.
  • Pilot/PoC: Then, Seattle and the Urban Freight Lab will pilot projects to test solutions in a real-world environment.
  • On-going research: Over the next year, we will expand the data collection process to inventory off-street private facilities in First Hill and Capitol Hill. We hope to continue the partnership with UFL to better understand peak hours for public load zones and alleys day-to-day, and thus inform how we manage urban goods delivery street space.

Performance Targets

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Measurement Methods
  1. Reducing truck time in a load/unload space in the city (aka “dwell time”).
  2. Minimizing failed first package deliveries. About 8-10% of first delivery attempts in urban areas are unsuccessful, creating more return trips.
  1. Measurement of response time in minutes over specified period, compared to baseline.
  2. Measurement of freight dwell time in high congestion areas
  3. Additional Details TBC

Standards, Replicability, Scalability, and Sustainability

  • SDOT has received requests from many other cities, including Washington, DC, to share results and lessons learned during the Freight Master Plan development process and early actions coming out of this 3-year program.
  • Requires interoperable GIS, AVL and GPS interfaces.
  • Establishes standardized procedures for Urban Freight & Delivery services.
  • Standardized processes are not unique to city or region and can be replicated and scaled up in multiple cities/communities. The solution is planned to be replicated in 1 city in the US and potentially additional cities upon completion of study.
  • The system will have its own business model to create sustainable revenue stream.
  • Additional Details TBC

Cybersecurity and Privacy



  • Economy – Provide an urban freight delivery system that supports a growing economy for Seattle and the region.
  • Safety – Improve safety and the predictable movement of goods and people.
  • Mobility – Reliably connect manufacturing/industrial centers and business districts with the local, state, and international freight networks.
  • State of Good Repair – Maintain and improve the freight transportation network to ensure safe and efficient operations.
  • Equity – Benefit residents and businesses of Seattle through equity in urban freight investments and improve the health of communities impacted by goods movement.
  • Environment – Improve freight operations in Seattle and the region by making goods movement more efficient and reducing its environmental footprint.