On Broadway

City Officials Recommend Streetcar Route

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STREETCAR The route they want.

A streetcar serving First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the International District, slated to be complete in 2013, should run up and down Broadway instead of along alternative routes to the east and west, Seattle Department of Transportation officials told Mayor Mike McGinn on March 17. While that's not the absolute final word on the subject, Ethan Melone, manager of the project, says McGinn "thought that our recommendation made some sense."

The Broadway route prevailed with transportation planners because it would travel fastest (16 minutes from end to end), have high estimated ridership (up to 9,000 people a day), and come in under budget ($125 million total cost).

Officially, the route is still up in the air, but it would be incredibly tough to beat the Broadway route at this point. A February study of streetcar alignments found that the other routes had major flaws. A proposed couplet using both 12th Avenue and Broadway would have consumed parking spaces and had the lowest estimated ridership. Meanwhile, routes focusing on the hospitals on First Hill would have had the longest travel times and run up to $15 million over budget.

McGinn expects to make his recommendation by the end of the month; then the decision goes before the city council. City council member Tom Rasmussen, chair of the council's transportation committee, says, "I want to make sure that I have given full consideration to neighborhood proposals before making a decision on this."

One proposal that's sure to come up: Many Capitol Hill neighborhood activists want the line extended to East Aloha Street, about a half mile north of its slated terminus on East John Street (right next to the incoming light-rail tunnel stop). But an extension to Aloha would cost about $20 million more, says Melone, and there's not enough money.

Voters approved $132 million for the First Hill streetcar as part of the light-rail package passed in 2008. Originally, Sound Transit planned to build an underground light-rail stop on First Hill, but when that was found unfeasible due to soil conditions, the agency promised the neighborhood a streetcar instead.

The streetcar alignment presented to McGinn on March 17 still runs through First Hill, but it doesn't meander through the neighborhood as some First Hill activists had hoped.

Officials expect streetcars running along the favored Broadway line—which will connect two light-rail stations, the one coming to Capitol Hill (due to be completed in 2016) and another in the International District—to arrive every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours. recommended


Comments (4) RSS

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Help me does a streetcar that runs between two light rail stations make any sense? It would seem to make more sense to extend the streetcar line to the north, drawing more riders to the Capitol Hill light rail station.
Posted by IslandGuy on March 24, 2010 at 8:53 PM · Report this
Transit user walking distance from a light rail station is estimated at 1/4 mile, a few blocks, less with any hill. Walking distance can also include the few blocks between Capital Hill LINK and the nearby streetcar stop. Eventual First Hill Streetcar Line extension closer to the LINK station we can suppose is not ruled out.

Transit users gain a convenient transfer system between the two LINK stations via the First Hill Streetcar Line to various stores and shops, homes and workplaces along its route.
Posted by Wells on March 25, 2010 at 12:36 PM · Report this
ron_in_PDX 3
Not to beat the drum too much for your neighbors to the south, but take a look at Portland's streetcar system and how it hooks up with MAX, which happens to work very well. This proposed route in Seattle on Broadway is somewhat similar to the existing system in downtown Portland, where north-south streetcars cross and connect MAX stations heading east and west. No, it's not exactly the same, but the basic synergy is. I'm betting that, as in Portland, there are large numbers of commuters who would use this, just because it makes life easier for them at a relatively low cost. And, like in Portland, I'm betting it would fairly quickly have a dramatic positive effect on development. For a city in America, there are worse fates than emulating Portland, believe me.
Posted by ron_in_PDX on March 25, 2010 at 3:08 PM · Report this
The line will connect the 'planned' 1st Avenue Line now in trouble. Streetcar from First Hill to Key Arena is a great idea. But Waterfront attractions and an Interbay Extension is important too, so don't believe a Waterfront Streetcar Line is a lost cause.

The current Alaskan Way boulevard redesign is basicly absurd. Several all-round better designs make room for the Waterfront Streetcar line.

I give Crunican Failing grades, bitterly. It's horrible to watch Seattlers act in ignorance about automobile-related interests that run Seattle and the country. This cabal of industrialist/businessmen want us to believe mounting 5 acres of solar panels along a freeway for its night lights makes sense. "Hey uh hey, sir, could I please have one a them there solar panels, if'n ya got an extry?"
Posted by Wells on March 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM · Report this

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