Prime walking/biking/rollerblading season is fading, but two major public transportation projects underway on and under Capitol Hill will make future rainy weather travel around the city somewhat drier. Here’s the latest rail news on the Hill:
First Hill Streetcar: Watch out for some traffic re-routs this weekend as streetcar and cycle track work continue on Broadway. The intersection of Pine and Broadway will be partially closed to traffic Saturday and Sunday. Westbound traffic on Pine from Broadway will be re-routed to Olive, while eastbound traffic will be closed at Harvard Ave (except for local access between Harvard and Broadway.)
Bikeway paving on Broadway will continue this week between Howell and Pike. Also on the Broadway streetcar schedule for this week: “jackhammering.”
The Broadway extension, which will extend the street car from Denny to either Roy or Prospect, is still in the planning stages. Seattle Department of Transportation is currently responding to a mandatory federal review of the extension. SDOT’s Ethan Melone told CHS the city plans to make a decision on the Broadway terminus by spring 2014 — just as the streetcar line is hoped to be close to starting service.
According to an SDOT survey earlier this year — dominated by some 600 online respondents — E Prospect was the preferred terminus for 64% of people who participated.
The extension along Broadway’s main retail corridor is scheduled to be completed by 2016, right when the first light rail trains should be rolling up the Hill.
Light Rail University-Link and Capitol Hill Station: Moving below ground, Bruce Gray at Sound Transit tells CHS that the light rail University Link continues to chug along ahead six months ahead of schedule and $100 million below budget.
“The riskiest part of the job, going under I-5, is finished,” Gray said. “U-Link is going great.”
Construction recently finished on one continuous track connecting downtown and Capitol Hill, with power lines to be completed soon. Work on the underground station is also coming along. Gray told CHS that 25% of the Capitol Hill station is now complete. Gray said major concrete pouring of the station walls and floors will continue into the coming weeks. The University Station is now 75% finished.
The multi-year process to draft a plan for the five properties around the station have basically wrapped-up after the Seattle City Council approved the blue prints for the project last month. The Sound Transit Board is expected to approve the agreement (PDF) during its upcoming Sept. 26 meeting.The community group Capitol Hill Champion and others who helped hammer out the agreement are now taking a breather as they await the contractor selection process.
As soon as the board approves the agreement, Sound Transit will begin soliciting contractors to work on the sites. The bulk of the development isn’t expected to be complete until after the first light rail trains roll through in 2016. Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director and Champion member Michael Wells said the the Champion group will have a seat at the table when contractors begin vying for the work, but will have no formal vote on awarding the contract.
The five sites are poised to be a neighborhood defining development in the coming years for retail and housing. Of the more than 400 apartment units possible across the five sites, the agreement sets groundwork for nearly 40% to achieve the city’s affordable housing mark — 50% of the area’s median income, or around $30,000 per year for a one-person household.