With $3 million sorted out to pay for planning an extension of the streetcar route a half-mile north on Broadway, planners have more than a few decisions to make. How should the bikeway and streetcar elements be laid out north of Denny? How close to Volunteer Park should the last Capitol Hill streetcar stop be?
Thursday night on the other end of Broadway, representatives from the Seattle Department of Transportation will be on hand at a community open house to talk about those options. And, though it’s too early for the workshop to tackle the topic, CHS also has more information on a possible local improvement district being considered to raise a portion of the $25 million construction estimate required to extend the route.
So, just how far north will the extension go?
“It’s largely about community preferences,” SDOT’s Ethan Melone tells CHS about one big question that the workshop and extension planning process needs to answer, “We don’t see anything technically that will be a big challenge for any of those options.”
The three options SDOT will bring to the table Thursday are within a few blocks of one another beween the north end of Broadway E and Volunteer Park — Roy, Aloha and Prospect.
How the plan shakes out will be based on feedback provided by people who live and work in the area — especially residents, businesses and institutions that fall within a potential local improvement district that could be formed to pay a portion of the construction budget.
Reporting on a complicated civic budget process at this early point is a challenge — multiple funding sources will come together and a large menu of planning and environmental review is yet to come. But current models for covering the $25 million start with $11 million in “local funding” from the City of Seattle for the extension to be operational by 2016. Half of that $11 million would be raised by a levy from a local improvement district formed in the neighborhood around the streetcar’s northern reach. To layer more what ifs on top of those what ifs, just which property owners would be included in the district and how much each would end up paying over the duration of the levy would need to be worked out. LIDs are common tools in the city and are subject to votes by the participants. As far as LIDs go, $5.5 million is a relatively small amount. Of course, that’s easy for Broadway property-less CHS to say, no?
Following the start of construction in spring 2012, the First Hill streetcar is expected to be operational in 2014 and eventually serve around 3,500 riders per day, according to transit planners. The initial $133 million, 2.5 mile route was paid for via Sound Transit as mitigation for its decision to not build a light rail station on First Hill. 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. A study concluded that extending the route to Aloha would add about 500 riders per day and 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 the 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.
Before all of the money to pay for constructing the streetcar extension gets worked out, there will be more questions to answer. Another area planners will be gathering feedback on Thursday night will be how the various streetcar, bikeway, pedestrian, traffic and parking elements should fit together north of Denny.
“We want to hear what their priorities are,” Melone said about fine-tuning the changes being planned for north Broadway. Below is the basic layout that was proposed for Broadway before Denny where there is far less street parking.
The Seattle Bike Blog is already licking its chops at the prospects for improved riding all the way to E Prospect. “Once completed, the entire length of Broadway would have a two-way protected cycle track, securing inviting bicycle access to the city’s most dense and bustling commercial street,” the site breathlessly reports.
You can share the blog’s ardor — or make your case for a north Broadway redesign Thursday night.