More transit prep on Broadway: If you spot ‘smoke,’ don’t worry — Capitol Hill Station airflow test

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A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station's main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station’s main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

If you see smoke Friday night coming from the under construction Capitol Hill Station, you can probably relax. Sound Transit says contractors will be conducting tests of the station’s “airflow”

Friday, May 22, from 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sound Transit’s contractors at both the Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations will perform airflow tests in the University Link tunnels. Nearby residents and passersby may notice artificial smoke (a dense vapor produced by a fog machine) exiting vent shafts at the station sites. Additional airflow tests will also be performed on May 30-31 and June 6-7 during daytime hours.

If this were an actual emergency, never fear — Capitol Hill’s Fire Station 25 is home to Seattle’s only special tunnel firefighting machine.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The work is part of preparations through the rest of 2015 to open Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway.

You can get a sneak peek here of the UW station and a look here at what it’s like inside the 3.1 mile tunnels. Riders will descend around 90 feet via escalators and elevators to reach the Capitol Hill Station platform, according to Sound Transit diagrams. In addition to the main entrance near Broadway and John, the station will also be accessed by an entrance near Denny on the west side of Broadway and a third entrance on the south end of the site. By 2030, about 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day.

Above ground, the process to develop the sites around the Broadway light rail site with a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, a community plaza, and commercial space — including a home being planned for a new grocery store – is underway and planners are adjusting bus routes in anticipation of the new transit service coming online. Meanwhile, the surface level streetcar has begun testing on Broadway with hopes of opening the service to riders later this summer.

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Testing, testing: First Hill Streetcar makes surprise Broadway appearance

(Image: @TheStreetcar via Twitter)

(Image: @TheStreetcar via Twitter)

Either the plan has changed or the First Hill Streetcar testing is ahead of its delayed schedule. Monday night, Broadway — apparently — had a surprise visitor.

“Did you see #TheStreetcar on Broadway last night? Low speed test completed as we continue startup prep,” the streetcar’s promotional Twitter account bragged.

(Image: @seattledot via Twitter)

(Image: @seattledot via Twitter)

“Hey All, Did you see Streetcar on Broadway last night?” SDOT’s account teased.

CHS didn’t see it. So it’s possible the First Hill Streetcar’s landing on Broadway was faked. But here’s what CHS wrote in March as we got a look at the new trains under construction and being prepared for testing at their International District trolley barn:

Don’t expect to see the streetcar on Broadway until very late in the testing process this summer. SDOT officials say the testing won’t make it up the Hill until there are three or four cars ready for service conditions. At that point, SDOT can begin a process of mimicking standard service. An official said at that point, the streetcar needs to perform as planned for about two weeks. Once it passes that test, the new trams — including our special hot pink car — will be ready for business.

There’s been no announcement of an acceleration in the plan to start service so we’re betting the low-speed test was just a little more ambitious than how planners described the process back in March. Continue reading

Center lane route and MLK terminus get public support at Madison BRT meeting

By 2019, a swift moving tram-like bus along Madison is planned to shuttle passengers from downtown, through First Hill and along the edge of Capitol Hill on its way to an eastern expanse of residential neighborhoods. The idea is that the current 16 minute bus ride between 23rd Ave and 1st Ave would be cut to under 10 minutes.

But before that happens, the city has to make some key decisions on what that “bus rapid transit” line will look like in order to have a plan ready by July.

On Wednesday, the Seattle Department of Transportation held an public open house on the Madison BRT that included new renderings of proposed designs. The roughly 80 people assembled at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences also had the opportunity to vote on a variety of questions transit planners are facing. Continue reading

In a nod to neighborhoods and sidewalks, revised Seattle transportation levy plan bulks up another 3%

We’re going to need about 3% more. After gathering feedback — and crunching a few more numbers — Mayor Ed Murray announced a revised proposal for a new transportation levy to fund projects across Seattle.

In March, Murray and city officials gathered in front of the Bullitt Center to announce the original $900 million Move Seattle levy proposal as E Madison traffic roared by in the background. That street’s BRT plan will be one of a giant roster of Seattle transit projects planned to be powered by the funding.

Wednesday, officials said the revised plan about to be sent to City Council for approval before it goes to November’s ballot would now weigh in around $930 million. It also has some new priorities stuffed in including more money for street safety and, in a nod to the future demands to be placed on the coming district-based City Council, more money for “neighborhood priority projects.” Continue reading

Civic Duty | Madison BRT open house, 12th Ave E design review

  • Screen-Shot-2015-02-03-at-11.23.24-AM-600x438Madison BRT Open House: With the mayor announcing a revision to the planned levy that will help pay for it Since announcing an initial draft proposal in mid-March, the Mayor’s Office and SDOT have engaged people across Seattle, seeking feedback on transportation priorities. The revised proposal reflects what the City has learned through this engagement effort. — the Madison BRT project will be on the board Wednesday night at an open house to gather feedback on the $87 million project:
    SDOT would like your input on:
    -BRT design options, routing, terminals, and station locations
    -Priorities for transit service and capital investments
    -Design concepts for a Central Area protected bike lane

    Madison BRT Open House – 5/6/15 5-7 PM at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences Middle School 1432 15th Ave

    CHS wrote here about the biggest design questions for the “bus rapid transit” project planned to create a corridor of speedy bus service from the waterfront all the way up to the Central District through the heart of First Hill and along the southern edges of Capitol Hill.

  • Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.06.27 AM12th Ave E Design Review: The review board has a light session Wednesday night with only one project on the docket. A four-story building with 51 apartment units and no parking is planned for 12th Ave just south of John. The old house standing at the site — like many others along 12th — will be demolished for the project.

    Design Review: 121 12th Ave E
    Design Proposal (PDF)Review Meeting
    May 6, 2015 6:30 pm
    Seattle University
    902 Broadway
    Administration Building Room 221
    Review Phase
    REC–Recommendation

Local tax eyed as $12 million still needed to fund First Hill Streetcar’s Broadway extension

A First Hill Streetcar test run at 8th Ave S and S King (Image: SDOT)

A First Hill Streetcar test run at 8th Ave S and S King (Image: SDOT)

The original Broadway and Roy street car tracks

It won’t be the first time streetcar tracks have rounded the corner at Broadway and Roy (Image: Seattle Municipal Photo Archive)

As the city tries to zero in on a launch date for the First Hill Streetcar, a planned two stop extension along Broadway remains underfunded by about $12 million and a controversial property tax hike is likely to be key in closing the gap.

Streetcar tracks for the 2.5 mile Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill line currently terminate at Broadway and E Denny Way, but a planned stop at Harrison St. and a new terminus at Roy St. would extend the streetcar’s route and accompanying Broadway Bikeway by a half mile starting in 2017. Like it does along the rest of the route, the Broadway extension tracks would share traffic lanes with motor vehicles and buses.

The city’s Department of Transportation currently has enough money to complete ongoing design of the extension, known as the Broadway Streetcar, but not enough to complete construction of the $25 million project. To come up with an additional $12 million, the city is planning to apply for federal grants that will include local matching requirements.

A Local Improvement District is likely to be used to meet that local funding requirement by the raising property taxes of buildings near the project based on value added due to the streetcar extension.

Michael Wells, executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, said a LID would face major opposition from north Broadway business owners, who are trying to breath new life into the business corridor and are considering an expansion of the Broadway Business Improvement Area.

“If there’s any way to avoid creating a LID for the project, we want to do it,” Wells said. Continue reading

Sound Transit: The ‘restoration’ of Broadway and John about to begin


This image of the “conex box” was featured in our January 16th “week in pictures” post

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(Image: Sound Transit — so don’t blame us for the E Olive Way mistake)

It sounds nearly biblical. With service slated to begin in less than a year and the bulk of tunnel and station construction complete, Sound Transit has announced that its contractors will begin a new phase of work this weekend to recreate the sidewalk, curbs, and gutters around Capitol Hill Station along Broadway and E John. Details of the construction work are below including the planned removal Saturday of the big red “conex box” used for pedestrian safety along E John adjacent the construction site. Removal of the Big Red Wall is also underway along with the art projects that have accumulated on the block over the the past five years. Sound Transit estimates the restoration will take about six weeks.

Meanwhile, we’re told Sound Transit was preparing a response to Capitol Hill Housing’s protest over details of the proposal from Gerding Edlen for the Portland-based developer to lease or purchase — and then develop — the transit agency’s two acres of land surrounding Capitol Hill Station. All sides say the issue is moving forward and that they expect to have a resolution in place before a planned May 16th open house.

Restoration of Broadway and E. John Street starts May 2nd

Sound Transit’s contractor has obtained a noise variance from the City of Seattle to remove the pedestrian conex box on E. John Street between Broadway and 10th Avenue E. from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, May 2, 2015. Residents may hear noise from the equipment used to remove the conex box and from trucks used to load and haul the pieces from the site.

There will be intermittent closures of the eastbound curb lane on E. John Street in order to safely complete the removal. A police officer and flaggers will direct vehicles and pedestrians around the work area.

Following the conex box removal, crews will begin to demolish the red wall at this location, then install curbs, gutters and sidewalks along the east side of Broadway between E. Denny Way and E. John Street and along E. John Street between Broadway and 10th Avenue E.

On-street parking will be restricted along Broadway between E. Denny Way and E. John Street during restoration work. This phase of restoration is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete, depending on weather.
What to expect:

  • Flaggers and detour signage will direct vehicles and pedestrians around the work area. Intermittent daytime noise from demolition and saws and jackhammers as crews break up concrete and repave the area.
  • Sidewalk closures and restricted on-street parking in the work area.

Further updates will be provided as work proceeds in the area.

With protest from nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing to be resolved, deal to develop Capitol Hill Station moves forward

(Image: Gerding Edlen)

The Sound Transit Board including King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray voted Thursday to approve Motion No. M2015-34 authorizing the start of negotiations with Gerding Edlen for the Portland-based developer to lease or purchase — and then develop — the transit agency’s two acres of land surrounding Capitol Hill Station.

But the process still has some negotiation to shake out before all is said and done on the selection of the “master developer.”

According to the Sound Transit board memorandum on the motion, “a protest has been submitted that relates solely to Site B-North. Staff will evaluate the protest and will issue a written decision consistent with Sound Transit’s protest procedures.”

Nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing sent the letter of protest over the selection, CHS has learned. CEO Chris Persons confirmed the protest but told CHS he couldn’t discuss details until talks with Gerding Edlen were wrapped up in coming weeks. Capitol Hill Housing had been part of a proposal with the Jonathan Rose Companies to develop the properties.

In an email sent from Capitol Hill Housing to Sound Transit, Persons wrote that the nonprofit developers would file “a formal protest regarding Sound Transit’s determination to enter into negotiations with an organization other than a qualified not-for-profit for the acquisition and development of site B-North at the Capitol Hill Redevelopment site.”

“We sincerely believe that an honest mistake has been made,” Persons writes, adding that CHH holds Gerding Edlen “in the highest regard.”

Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station’s next stop: Transportation Choices shows sneak peek of UW Station

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choice

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choices

Last Tuesday, we told you the Big Red Wall around the future Capitol Hill Station was beginning to come down in preparation for U-Link’s expected 8% under budget, six or so months early depending on who’s counting, early 2016 (March?) start of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Capitol Hill.

Pfew! That’s exciting!

So, how about a look at the other end of the equation! Here’s a peek inside your northern light rail destination adjacent Husky Stadium, courtesy Transportation Choices:

TCC got an inside look at both stations today, and here are some pictures of the highlights of the gorgeous UW Station (Capitol Hill station pictures are embargoed but we assure you, it looks great!).

We’re only a little envious of you, TCC, and your embargoed pics of the Broadway light rail station. At least we know what Capitol Hill Station art will look like integrating works by Capitol Hill artist Ellen Forney and a massive “Jet Kiss” sculpture by artist Mike Ross. And, of course, we did get to do this:

A colorful start to Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar testing

Mayor Murray and King County Council and Sound Transit board rep Joe McDermott take a ride (Images: CHS)

Mayor Murray and King County Council and Sound Transit board rep Joe McDermott take a ride (Images: CHS)

In front of a rainbow assortment of new trolleys, the first completed tram for the First Hill Streetcar — sky blue — took a very important load of passengers for a 600-foot ride Friday morning as testing for the system has moved into full motion.

It only required one “reboot.”

“This is another step in our efforts to get streetcars running throughout Seattle,” passenger and Mayor Ed Murray said to the media assembled to cover the event at the system’s International District maintenance facility.

Inside, workers were assembling three more cars set to join the fleet including a hot pink number one Seattle Department of Transportation representative said captured the, um, “modern energy of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.” The colors of the multi-hued cars were “inspired” by the “different characteristics” of the neighborhoods the 2.5 mile streetcar route travels through — Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill. Continue reading