With the First Hill streetcar only months from the start of service between Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square, the separated bike track designed to provide Broadway riders with a safer way to travel near the railed route is ready to fully open.
Officials are planning to officially open the Broadway bikeway all the way from Yesler to Howell for riders starting Wednesday, May 7th. Bright blue bollards now line portions of the 1.1 mile route to help provide additional safety for riders. Yes, along with the bright chartreuse streetcar stop art towers, they make for a peculiar streetscape.
The first, less than half-mile portion of the bikeway ending at Union opened last fall to light use by bikers and a decent amount of confusion as drivers figured out the new parking configurations around the route. While not entirely insulated from traffic safety issues, the protected lanes provide riders with a route far from the streetcar’s dangerous tracks as well as a relatively clear path through an increasingly complicated traffic environment on Broadway — and, hey, it’s even opened up some new commercial possibilities.
The bikeway and streetcar is set to radically overhaul transit along the Broadway corridor. The 2.5 mile streetcar line connecting down Broadway and Jackson to the International District and Pioneer Square is costing Sound Transit $134 million as part of the agency’s mitigation for the decision to skip First Hill in its light rail system.
City planners hope to extend the streetcar north from its existing Denny terminus toward Volunteer Park. In 2013, 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 will come online less than two years after the start of streetcar service. You’ll be able to jump off the streetcar and onto light rail starting in the first quarter of 2016.