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Streetcar plan approved — next stop, full Council — UPDATE

A rendering from the Capitol Hill Complete Streetcar Campaign, the group advocating for streetscape improvements and extending the route to north Broadway.

The Seattle City Council’s transportation committee this morning approved resolution 31207, a plan authorizing construction of the First Hill streetcar. The 4-0 vote paves the way for the legislation to move to the full Council for a vote on Monday, May 3.

The $132 million plan calls for the Department of Transportation to manage construction of the line utilizing funds provided by Sound Transit as the agency’s mitigation for the decision to not build a First Hill stop for its light rail transit line. We covered the City Council’s approval of the Sound Transit-DOT agreement here.

Ann Corbitt, staffer for transportation committee head Tom Rasmussen, told CHS that there is a lot of support for the plan both in the Council and the community. “Now that it’s a reality, it’s very exciting,” Corbitt said. She also acknowledged that Monday’s vote will only be the start of the Council’s work around the streetcar project. The resolution requires a great deal of Council oversight including determining elements such as the location of maintenance facilities for the new line. “This is a huge project,” Corbitt said. “It’s worth the attention.”

The streetcar planning and public input process has played out over the last year as routes and extensions were debated and dismissed. The 2-Way Broadway route was selected due to its lowest projected cost and highest projected ridership.

View 1st Hill Streetcar – “Two-way Broadway” in a larger map

The resolution also includes a plan to create an extension of the streetcar route to reach north Broadway. The Capitol Hill Community Council’s Complete Streetcar Campaign has been advocating for that extension and pedestrian and bicycle improvements along the streetcar route. The group is planning a rally and party a day after the full Council vote Tuesday night at Sole Repair. CHS voted to endorse the campaign last week.

DOT planners expect to begin construction on the streetcar route in 2011 with a planned start of service in late 2013.

Publicola posts this afternoon on the political process that must play out for a small portion of the $132 million Sound Transit streetcar project budget to be approved by the ST board for planning the north Broadway extension. As Publicola notes, Sound Transit must approve the use of the already agreed upon budget for the project for the planning of the north Broadway extension. Publicola quotes a Sound Transit official and reports on sources that have told them that “the agency seems unlikely to agree to extend the streetcar unless the city comes up with a way to pay for it.”

SDOT planner Ethan Melone told CHS that  SDOT will request $750,000 from the existing Sound Transit budget for the streetcar project to start the north Broadway planning process.

It is not clear from Publicola’s reporting if Sound Transit will require a funding plan to be in place before approving the apportionment of the $750,000 — about one half percent of the total budget — for SDOT to complete its north Broadway planning process.

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6 thoughts on “Streetcar plan approved — next stop, full Council — UPDATE” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. The Google map shows the smaller, Cherry Hill campus of Swedish not the more relevant Swedish Hospital main campus, actually on Broadway, steps from the streetcar alignment.
    Just saying!

  2. I have to say I’m pretty happy with this route. It rides through a lot of different neighborhoods and connects them all to great retail, restaurants and hospitals. Hopefully they approve it to north Broadway as well.

  3. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Capitol Hill Complete Streetcar Campaign! This streetcar will be a great asset to the community, connecting people and neighborhoods to the light rail system. We are very pleased to see the resolution supporting the north Broadway extension, and hope Sound Transit will see the value of the extension as part of driving greater ridership and leveraging federal funding. This extension was always in ST planning documents, including the 2007 Roads and Transit measure that failed. Eliminating it for the 2008 vote was driven by a political desire to keep ST2 as inexpensive as possible. It makes sense to add the extension back in if the project comes in under budget, not divert the money to some other project. It will take a lot of advocacy to make this case in the coming months, and we can use all the help we can get.

  4. As a long time (20 years now) resident of the hill near Broadway, I can’t help but wonder whether the once-thriving business corridor of Broadway will ever come back to its 1990s heyday, because right now it looks like a blown out neighborhood hanging on for dear life, as the actual neighborhood hub has migrated down to 12th and pine.

    Once all this streetcar rebuild and traffic islands etc are put in, I wonder how broadway will ever be used again as a parade route. Betting that it wont. Can’t shut down the street cars .. plus all the bumps and dividers in broadway that’ll be going in. When we lost the pride parade we lost broadway’s “xmas season” that many merchants needed. How will that ever come back now.

    So what will this thing be? A nice ride up from county jail and yesler terrace to broadway and john, past some hospitals, CCCC, into the former business district of Broadway Ave. Can’t wait.

  5. I’m all for blowing right past Aloha, and laying tracks up to St Marks at least. The further north the better!

    It’s interesting if you look at the old streetcar maps from way back when, they used to run all the way up to the U-district on pretty much the same route the #49 uses now.