With the planned start of construction of the line coming as early as
this fall January, we’re learning more about what the streetcar running from the International District to Capitol Hill via First Hill will look like — and whether it will be extended to run all the way up Broadway.
UPDATE: Project Manager Ethan Melone said construction will now likely begin in early 2012, as the rails will not be delivered until late January.
Later this month, a contractor will be selected by the city for what is still being called the First Hill streetcar project. The line is being built by the City of Seattle but paid for by Sound Transit to help mitigate the decision to not build a light rail station in the First Hill area. $132 million has been budgeted for the project.
Should the contractor bid come in below budget — something we’re hearing is still likely in the current economic environment — SDOT and a group from the Capitol Hill Community Council will ask Sound Transit to apportion $750,000 to create a plan to extend the line beyond the currently planned Broadway/Denny terminus all the way to Roy.
The City Council has already endorsed the streetcar extension beyond the future home of the Broadway light rail station and council president Richard Conlin recently reiterated his support in a community meeting. Mike Kent of the Capitol Hill Community Council said Conlin offered his help to seek funding that would facilitate extending the First Hill Streetcar beyond Denny and suggested the group ramp up advocacy efforts as construction bids for the already approved portion of the First Hill Streetcar hopefully come in below budget.
Meanwhile, the Sound Transit board has not exactly embraced the idea of supporting the extension.
City planners expect to begin construction on the streetcar route late this fall with a planned start of service in late 2013. Work could begin later this year between Boren and Madison, but work between Pine and Denny is not expected to start until the third quarter next year. Some preparation work is already underway.
In a new set of track and platform diagrams and a flyover video released this week, SDOT provided more details of what we’ll be getting for our $132 million.
Design of the First Hill Streetcar has progressed to the next step, with more details about how intersections will work and a more complete design for the planned two-way bikeway. Especially for the Broadway corridor, the latest updates mostly flush out signage and traffic behavior decisions compared to when we last checked in. And yes, there is an updated visual flyover video.
Under the updated plans, the two-way bikeway would include bicycle-specific traffic signals, and many motor vehicle left and right turns would be restricted, depending on the safety of each maneuver. The bikeway, which planners say pays for itself by avoiding costly utility relocations, is being built to keep people riding bikes safe from getting their wheels caught in the streetcar tracks. People on bicycles wanting to cross Broadway from the bikeway would turn into a bike box and wait until the traffic signal turns green.
Bike box at Broadway and Pine, from a presentation to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board
Meanwhile, a group in the International District has voiced concerns about tracks on 8th Ave posing a risk to the elderly, who may trip or get their canes stuck in the tracks, according the the International Examiner.
However, Seattle Transit Blog called these concerns “fearmongering,” saying that this has not been a problem in Seattle or Portland’s streetcar tracks.