The City of Seattle announced Tuesday that it has secured some $3 million in funding to plan and design — but not build — the extension of the First Hill streetcar beyond the planned Denny Way terminus.
The extension will require $25 million to complete. At this date, the source for that funding has not been identified. Because of the funding schedule, the earliest work can begin on the extension is 2015. The planned and paid-for First Hill route will be completed through Denny by 2014.
Earlier this month, CHS reported that $800,000 had been secured to study the extension. Today, Mayor Mike McGinn announced an additional federal grant and $1.25 million in City of Seattle matching to assembled the $3 million necessary to plan and design the route.
At the Tuesday morning press event announcing the planning funding held near Broadway and Roy, SDOT director Peter Hahn confirmed interest in the route reaching far enough north to drop off visitors on the edge of Volunteer Park, a plan backed by the Seattle Art Museum. The final plan for the extension will hinge on studies of the residential population in the area, employment patterns and visitors who might be drawn to resources in the area like Volunteer Park.
“Stopping half way up street just didn’t make sense,” Mayor Mike McGinn said Tuesday of the community push for the extension. Poppy owner Jerry Traunfeld and Josh Mahar, who helped spearhead the community council push for the extension, were on hand and applauded by McGinn for their efforts to bring the plan to fruition. “Community involvement could have been obstructionist,” Mahar said. “We put together a set of solutions.” Mahar called progress on the extension an example of how community groups can work with the city to get things done.
McGinn said, given the amount of time it will require to arrange $25million in funding, it’s unlikely there will be wiggle room to move up the schedule for the extension so that it could be completed along with the main First Hill route.
We endorsed Mahar’s Complete Streetcar Campaign in 2010 (Image: CHS)
One thing just might come early, however. Director Hahn said the mayor wouldn’t like him saying it, but the separated Broadway bikeway will likely be ready for use before the start of streetcar service.
The announcement was a victory for the CHS-endorsed Capitol Hill Complete Streetcar campaign that has advocated for the extension since the initial routing was decided in 2010.
People involved with the planning process around a possible First Hill route extension to north Broadway say there has been growing energy to push the rail system even farther north along 10th Ave to reach E Prospect and open up the possibility of a better connection to Volunteer Park.
The First Hill streetcar is expected to eventually serve around 3,500 riders per day, according to transit planners. A previous study concluded that extending the route to Aloha would add about 500 riders per day. That study also said that extending the line to Aloha would add 3 minutes to the trip in each direction. Trolleys will leave every 15 minutes and vehicle traffic and streetcars will share a lane as a separated bikeway is added along Broadway. The streetcar will also provide an additional connection to Capitol Hill Station and light rail when that facility begins operations in late 2016.
The route for the streetcar was finalized following an extensive SDOT planning and community feedback process that considered a variety of routes — including a loop around Cal Anderson Park. The First Hill line is being paid for by Sound Transit — on the line for the project as mitigation for its decision to not build a light rail station on First Hill.