As the opinions form around which alignment would best serve the communities of First Hill, the Central District and Capitol Hill, we talked with Seattle Department of Transportation planner Ethan Melone about what comes next in the process to finalize the streetcar route.
Melone said no date has been set yet but that SDOT is readying an update of the proposed alignments shaped by feedback and input from the community and a batch of new information and data that collected by his department for the next round of public outreach on the project. Melone said the next community meeting to present the updated alignments and new information will likely be in the second week of February.
“We will look at the same alternatives with refinements not entirely new routes,” Melone said of what we should expect to see in February. There will also be new, more accurate information on factors such as the time it will take to travel the three proposed alignments.
That framework seems to indicate that SDOT is forging ahead with the Broadway-12th Ave Couplet alignment despite a letter sent from the First Hill Improvement Association to outgoing SDOT director Grace Crunican (and a host of politicians and media outlets) asking for the removal of the option from consideration. Here’s an excerpt of the letter with the specific request:
The letter does not say which of the remaining alignments the FHIA supports.
Meanwhile, for a preview and a chance to provide your feedback directly to Melone and others from SDOT, attend this Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting at the Cal Anderson Shelter House where the streetcar process will be on the agenda.
Melone said more than 300 people attended the three streetcar open houses in December and SDOT has received more than 200 written comments about the proposed routes with more on the way. “They’re still coming in,” Melone said. “We receive between 5 to 10 every day.”
Melone said the comments break down into the following categories ranked from most common to least:
- Alignment preference
- Specific stop locations
- Extension to north Broadway
- General support for the streetcar
“It’s certainly nice,” Melone said, “when you get the comment ‘This is great. Build it now.'”
Melone declined to provide a breakout of which alignments the public comments stated a preference for. Melone said SDOT will compile a full summary of the comments for the February meeting. If you’d like your $0.02 included, leave a comment here (and let us know what you said, below — we’re kind of curious!).
In a poll run on CHS prior to the December open houses, 48% of the votes tallied were for the Broadway-12th Ave couplet alignment, while 41% came in for the Broadway-2-Way route. The Boren route was left in the dust.
Tom Rasmussen, chair of the City Council’s transportation committee, said he hasn’t yet thrown his weight behind any of the alternatives but that he believes time should be a key factor. “One of the things they need to consider is how direct the routes will be,” Rasmussen told CHS. According to the information SDOT provided in December, the Broadway-12th route would be the shortest distance at 4.26 miles. We’ll find out in February what SDOT’s official travel time estimate for the routes are.
Current plan calls for the streetcar to be operational by 2013 — three years ahead of Capitol Hill’s light rail station opening. To make that goal, construction of the line is planned to begin in 2011.