These are the ties that bind us.
You may have noticed the crews working on the new streetcar track beds along Broadway in front of Seattle Central digging up large pieces of wood as they make their way down the street. Reader Sage noticed and sent CHS the following:
The streetcar construction project is uncovering some wood beams from beneath Broadway. The workers are taking care to separate the wood from other debris. My curiosities:
1. Are these the long-buried railroad ties of the first streetcar line on Broadway?
2. Is this wood destined to go somewhere special?
Sage’s curiosities are our curiosities. It looks like the crews on Broadway are, indeed, encountering the old Broadway streetcar line. We checked with SDOT and a spokesperson confirmed: You’re seeing the left-behind elements from one of the old lines. SDOT tells us the contractor is expected to send the ties to a recycling facility — if they’re not treated with creosote, a chemical frequently used in wood preservation.
But Sage went one further and contacted the project manager from contractor Stacey and Witbeck about the possibility of salvaging the wood and putting it to greater use than chipping it into bits.
1) whatever they do, it can’t cost the project extra money and 2) Whomever would pick up wood would need to make an arrangement to take relatively big batch of unsorted wood; e.g. he can’t accomodate random people who want to come onto the secure work site to pick out a few good pieces. On the phone, he also mentioned he expects to pull out 10,000 of these ties over the course of the project, and anticipates they’ll find them all the way south to Yesler.
“At a grander scale,” Sage writes, “it could be awesome if these we could find a public re-use, for example, as a component in some of the new transit-oriented development on Broadway.”
Ideas for how to put 10,000 or so old streetcar ties to work? You know where to find them.