According to the current official timeline, the First Hill Streetcar service is slated to start at the “end of summer or fall.” But as the Seattle Department of Transportation wrapped up the last phase of track construction this month, we can’t help but wonder at the exact date we’ll see the trolley’s maiden voyage along the 2.5 mile, $134 million line.
A SDOT spokesperson told CHS the streetcar schedule is being updated and he expects next month to announce “definitive information” on the start of service.
We’re betting Seahawks will be a major factor in setting the date — though it has nothing to do with Sunday’s Super Bowl. While the date for the Hawks’ first game of the 2014 season is yet to be determined, the NFL regular season kicks off Thursday, September 4th. We’re predicting SDOT to proclaim the streetcar open for service ahead of the first Seahawks home game. The Pioneer Square terminus is just blocks from CenturyLink Field, ensuring the line will be quite popular among Capitol Hill ticket holders.
Our very non-scientific survey of SDOT ribbon cuttings shows that smaller projects often open on weekends, but larger ceremonies that require the mayor happen on weekdays (the South Lake Union Trolley ribbon was cut on a Wednesday afternoon).
Given those factors, however extraneous they are, we’re guessing the streetcar will open Tuesday, September 2nd — though Labor Day is a complicating factor.
A September opening would also have the line running in time for the start of classes at Seattle University and Seattle Central.
Another factor is Sound Transit contractors finishing this pedestrian concourse beneath Broadway. The schedule shows the project stretching until the end of 2014 but it’s unclear if the final phases would keep the streetcar line above from operating.
Whenever the streetcar does make its first run, we know Denny will be its northern terminus, at least for now. In June, SDOT’s Ethan Melone told CHS that there’s no firm deadline SDOT needs to meet to make a decision on extending the line to Roy or Prospect. “Ideally we would like to have a decision before we advance beyond 30% design, so next spring,” he said.
Last year the Seattle City Council approved plans for the city’s Transportation Benefit District spending, which included $175,000 for planning of the Broadway Streetcar Extension. The money “provides funding to complete formation activities for a Local Improvement District (LID).” CHS reported on the planning for the streetcar’s push for Volunteer Park here.
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension is planned to come online less than two years after our predicted start of streetcar service. You’ll be able to jump off the streetcar and onto light rail starting in the first quarter of 2016.