Last night’s Capitol Hill Community Council streetcar discussion opened up the floor for suggestions from the community, leading with a set of proposed recommendations from the Council who will officially submit a position on the plan to the City of Seattle in April.
In a draft of the memo the group is putting together to present a unified community position the streetcar’s development, the Council outlined three priorities:
Note that the Council has decided to not take a position on the 12th Ave couplet option. More about the current set of route options here. You can review the entire draft memo attached to this post.
Here are a few key notes from the Community Council’s presentation:
- Plan to extend streetcar route to Aloha St: The Community Council calls the Aloha extension a “consistent priority.” This would extend streetcar service to the far north end of Broadway and Aloha, ultimately connecting the Broadway neighborhood in one north/south route. There were some visuals on-hand to demonstrate what the north side of Broadway could look like with an Aloha extension, and the results are pretty interesting: multiple stops, hitting most storefronts along the north of Broadway, plus a streetcar platform in front of QFC and Cafe Zhivago/Infinity Nail. We’ve asked the Council to send over the visuals so we can post. Update:: Council’s Tony Russo provided files that we’ll update this post with shortly and a clarification:
We are not proposing specific stop locations. There would likely be two additional stops with the Aloha extension, one in the vicinity of QFC and one at the very north end of Broadway, but we are leaving the specifics up to SDOT (of course we may comment on their suggestions). The diagram that shows a stop in the middle of the block by the QFC entrance is meant to be illustrative of the concept (we had to put it somewhere on the diagram) and should not be taken to imply that we are specifically requesting a stop there.
- Broadway would be reduced from three lanes of traffic to two. Traffic congestion was a concern, as was the prospect of cars turning off Broadway during high peak hours (especially at corners like E. Republican). Also in question are bus routes. Keeping streetcar riders on Broadway encourages retail development and north Broadway activity, the Council’s presenter Tony Russo said.
- Keep the streetcar on Broadway north of Union St.: This, says the Community Council, will keep the “energy and focus on the retail corridor and makes the system simpler and easier to understand.” Talks of a loop around Cal Anderson bring up safety and noise concerns in the community, especially if plans to move the farmer’s market to Denny Way and Nagle Place follow through, which is a top priority for the council. They also want to keep the corridor between Denny and Nagle open for festival/parade routes and other community building events.
- Reclaim the street: “Make the streetcar a catalyst for reclaiming the use of right-of-way on Broadway,” the Community Council states. Specifically, they want to focus on eliminating the center turn lane on Broadway (except major intersections), and instead focusing the space on bicycle and pedestrian use. There is, the Council memo states, a “unique political opportunity” at hand, as well – Mayor Mike McGinn started the Great City’s Streets for People Campaign during his time as executive director of the Seattle Great City Initiative. Plus, the city recently allotted $30,000 for a consultant report as part of ongoing planning efforts to redevelop the community around the Sound Transit Light Rail station sites, with a key policy recommendation to “reclaim the streets.” Pedestrian and bicycle growth, the report says, are vital.
- Another alignment recommendation being considered by the Council is turning the streetcar off Broadway at the Denny Way junction, where it would take a loop around Cal Anderson and on to 11th Ave. Some on the Council are against bringing the streetcar to 11th Ave. because they consider it a residential street with limited lights in place for pedestrian/streetcar rider safety. This would interrupt bike routes as well. Turning the streetcar around at Denny also poses some traffic concerns about adding to Broadway’s congestion. Plus, it takes away from the retail businesses looking to attract new customers along Broadway. If the streetcar will only travel southbound on Broadway, (which 3 of the 4 alternative alignments suggest), advertisement opportunities will be cut short for local retailers because there are only storefronts on the east side of Broadway between Denny and Pine.
The Community Council is presenting this proposal to the Chamber of Commerce next Tuesday (Jan. 26). The City of Seattle will make a final decision in April and construction kicks off in fall of 2011.
SDOT Project Manager Ethan Malone also presented at Thursday night’s meeting to update the city’s status on the project and share some of the things SDOT learned in the public open houses about the streetcar. We reported on some of this and about the next steps for the streetcar here. Here are Malone’s slides from the Community Council session:
Much discussion was made over the increased amount of construction with both Light Rail and streetcar building on the Hill. However, the Community Council says this will not impede Light Rail construction and they are working closely with SDOT for the best outcome possible.
About 50 people attended this meeting.