We reported back in November that Capitol Hill could have its extension of the city’s streetcar system by 2012. In December, the City Council voted to support that plan. We checked in with city project manager Ethan Melone to see how progress on the streetcar will play out.
Melone confirmed that streetcar planners are still aiming at being operational on the First Hill-Capitol Hill extension by 2012.
“Our goal is to complete the design and environmental processes in about a 1 year time frame, which would have us in construction in 2010, and in operations in 2012,” Melone wrote in an e-mail to CHS. “Since streetcars can be built quickly, we think it makes a lot of sense to bring the benefits of the streetcar to Capitol Hill as quickly as we can, recognizing that the light rail project will be in construction in the area for several years and is not scheduled to begin operations until 2016.”
Key to this speedy turnaround, of course, is money. Melone said the City is working with Sound Transit on an “intergovernmental agreement” to help push the $140 million project forward quickly. Sound Transit will likely foot the entirety of that bill according to their ST2 plan.
Above are the main routes under consideration. But we’ve also heard about some other ideas being kicked around including:
- A phased approach that terminates at Pike/Pine until Broadway light rail construction is completed
- A loop that includes both Broadway and 12th
- A loop that circles the Capitol Hill light rail station
- Extension that continues down Broadway to Aloha
Capitol Hill Housing is pushing for a plan that includes 12th Ave. Here is their argument in this post to the 12th Ave Neighborhood & Business District group blog that they support:
Broadway is currently nearly 100% built out. 12th Avenue, however, especially the southern end near Yesler, is marred by vacant lots that are desperate for economic development. Add to this that the King County Detention Center at 12th and Alder will be redeveloped within the next 5 years and you have to wonder why on earth our City is considering placing a streetcar on Broadway?
Melone didn’t comment on the other concepts but he did weigh in on 12th Ave proposals. “The City has heard from quite a few stakeholders interested in a 12th Avenue alignment. We will look at alignment alternatives when we begin the design process, which should start this spring.” Melone said the goals need to remain moving people between First Hill and the light rail stations on Capitol Hill and in the International District and positioning the line for future extensions.