A quick look at the two-way Broadway alignment with the Cal Anderson Park loop.
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  • A quick look at the two-way Broadway alignment with the Cal Anderson Park loop.

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Last night's open house on the First Hill Streetcar, held downtown at Union Station, gave folks side-by-side comparisons of the six potential alignments for the new line that runs from light rail station in the International District to station on Capitol Hill. "I haven't heard a lot of angst," said Seattle Department of Transportation project manager Ethan Melone. "I was expecting we would."

But I heard a lot of angst—not so much about the proposed alignments—but about one that wasn't on the table. Several people wanted to extend the streetcar line past the Capitol Hill light rail station (on Broadway E and East Denny Way) north to E Aloha Street. Representatives of the Capitol Hill Community Council were the most vocal about this, and a couple of them were circulating their own literature with a three-point plan ("Extend the Streetcar to Aloha Street," "Keep the Streetcar on Broadway North of Union Street," and "Reclaim the Street").

Malone said that the project doesn't have any money for the E Aloha St extension, and that Sound Transit can't use funds for it. The streetcar is funded by the Sound Transit 2 package, approved by voters in 2008. But Alex Broner, one of the representatives of the Capitol Hill Community Council, disagreed, saying that the agreement with Sound Transit doesn't specifically include the extension, but could if the streetcar comes under-budget.

More angst over alignments after the jump.

Aside from the E Aloha St extension, attendees' preferences were across the board. Tirzah, a South Lake Union resident enthusiastic about the streetcar, loved the idea of the Broadway/12th couplet. "It has more bang for the buck," she told me as she looked over the cost projections (the 12th Avenue Couplet was the second cheapest option, while First Hill alignments were the most expensive), but George Bakan, editor of Seattle Gay News (there representing the Capitol Hill Community Council), said it's a good idea, "but a bit premature."

(Maps of all the alignments are in this handy .pdf.)

Roche Scheuerman, who works with the Light Rail Transit association, favored the Boylston/Seneca loop because it's the closest to where the Sound Transit Light Rail stop was originally planned.

Mike, a Metro bus driver who actually drove my bus yesterday morning, favored the two-way Broadway alignment, because it's the most direct—and it might be able to pick up some Seattle Central Community College students. No one really seemed opposed to the Broadway route—it continues to be, as it has always seemed to be, the compromise.

Paul, an enthusiastic youth from Mercer Island, had problems with all of the alignments, saying that they're "inconvenient if you're doing transfers."

Other concerns included bicycle integration: One man holding a bike helmet said that the city's doing a great job, while Every Day of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington raised concerns about the hazards of hard-to-see streetcar tracks. People interested in the International District alignments didn't state much of a preference but raised concerns about loss of parking and construction impacts. Scheuerman was the only person who gave me a preference. He wants the S Weller St Loop because he wants to go to Uwajimaya.

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Want more streetcar info? You have two more chances:

Thursday, February 11
11:30 AM-1:00PM
Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard Ave

Thursday, February 11
4:00 PM-7:00PM
Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard Ave