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Capitol Hill says streetcar should extend to E Prospect, businesses say protect parking

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The Seattle City Council transportation committee will hear Tuesday morning that Capitol Hill wants its streetcar to extend all the way to E Prospect — and that the Seattle Department of Transportation estimates the most northernly possible destination could tack on an addition $5 to $10 million to the projected $25 million cost of the Broadway extension.

[mappress mapid=”12″]The scheduled Council update will include the results of a community survey process that took place this winter asking respondents for feedback on three proposed terminus locations and layout preferences that could mix traffic lanes, turn lanes, parking and a separated bikeway the length of Broadway along with the extended streetcar line.

The initial line from Pioneer Square terminating at E Denny Way is scheduled to begin operations early in 2014.

According to the survey results — dominated by some 600 online respondents — E Prospect was the preferred terminus for 64% of people who participated.Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 8.55.01 PM

SDOT’s survey team also elected to proffer the survey to dozens of business owners along Broadway — the result set from the question “What are the most important features to preserve or add in the Broadway Corridor?” was especially illustrative of the split between the greater Capitol Hill community and the small group of people with skin in the game along Broadway.

Community ResponseScreen shot 2013-03-25 at 8.52.21 PM

Business ResponseScreen shot 2013-03-25 at 8.52.44 PM

The business and community responses also differed in the preferences around street layout — both groups showed the strongest preference for a layout that eliminates left turn lanes in favor of parking on both sides of the street but the community was much more open to the second option proposed by SDOT that would reduce parking to only one side of Broadway.

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SDOT says, that while the survey results are not statistically valid, the numbers provide direction to the planning process. Meanwhile, SDOT also plans to tell the City Council that officials from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum prefer an E Prospect terminus.

Following the start of construction in spring 2012, the First Hill streetcar is expected to be operational in 2014 and will eventually serve around 3,500 riders per day, according to transit planners. The initial $133 million, 2.5 mile route was paid for via Sound Transit as mitigation for its decision to not build a light rail station on First Hill. Trolleys will leave every 15 minutes and vehicle traffic and streetcars will share a lane as the separated bikeway is added along Broadway. The streetcar will also provide an additional connection to Capitol Hill Station and light rail when that facility begins operations in late 2016. In late 2012, the city announced it had secured $3 million to planan extension of the streetcar route a half-mile north on Broadway.

Here’s more from the survey results. We’ve embedded the entire results document, below.

Summary of Survey Results 

 The majority of respondents use transit in the Capitol Hill area on a daily-to-weekly basis. Over 38% of respondents noted that they use transit every day.

 Majority of respondents live or work near First Hill or Broadway Streetcar Extension line. Over 46% of respondents reported that they worked or lived in the Capitol Hill area.

 Strong support for extending the streetcar to Prospect Street. 64% of respondents preferred Prospect Street as the terminus option.

 Alignment Option #1 (maintaining parking along Broadway) and Alignment Option #2 (maintaining left hand turns along Broadway) received almost identical support in the community survey. Businesses interviewed during door-to-door overwhelmingly supported Option #1 (89%) because it preserved more parking and passenger/commercial loading areas.

 Community survey respondents noted that bicycle safety, traffic flow and pedestrian safety were the most important features to preserve or enhance along the Broadway corridor. When mentioned, an extension of the bikeway was generally well received. Broadway businesses wanted to preserve parking and commercial loading. There was significant support for preserving as much parking on Broadway as possible.

 The Chinatown/International District, the future Link Light Rail station on Broadway, and Pioneer Square were all highly ranked by community survey respondents as places to which they’d travel on the First Hill Streetcar. Retail/dining establishments along the future streetcar line were the single most frequently cited destination (83%).


2013 0319 Broadway Extension Survey Summary Submittal FINAL

Meanwhile, the Council briefing will likely make citywide headlines with details on 2012 ridership of the streetcar’s South Lake Union line where there were 30% more riders than forecast but farebox revenue came in 14% under predictions thanks to a list of factors SDOT planners are sure to explain in Tuesday’s session.Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 7.53.36 AM

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32 thoughts on “Capitol Hill says streetcar should extend to E Prospect, businesses say protect parking” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. I don’t really get the desire to go all the way to Prospect, aside from just a general “that’s the longest distance option I was offered” mentality. Roy is a pretty logical terminus in terms of it being the end of the commercial corridor, but also because the road splits there and dealing with the turn through there doesn’t really seem worth the effort. Obviously there would be some people that benefit from going further north, but I don’t think it warrants additional investment.

    • I agree and would add this question: If the terminus is at E Prospect, how will the streetcars get turned around? That intersection is quite small compared to the E. Roy area, and I don’t see how a turn-around would be feasible.

      Or, showing my ignorance perhaps, maybe streetcars don’t have to turn around. Do they just operate in both directions from an operator cab at either end?

      I walk along 10th Ave E north of Roy several times a week, and observe very few people waiting for the bus, so I too question that an extension all the way to Prospect will add many riders. As for tourists, and others, wanting to access Volunteer Park from, say, downtown, I doubt they would use the streetcar….more likely they would just use light rail, exit at the Capitol Hill Station, and walk the rest of the way.

  2. Is the full survey data public record? I’d be VERY interested in knowing which businesses care about more parking but not safe pedestrian routes & safe bicycle routes – apparently HALF of them!

    I’m sure many of them are bars – nothing says “good neighbor” like free parking for drunk drivers in a neighborhood without safe pedestrian & bicycle routes.

    • It hardly seems right to call what they did a “survey” since there was no science behind the sampling. They put up an internet poll, essentially, and didn’t even do a good job promoting it. In ~4 months, 600 people responded? 35 people a week maybe? 7 people a day responded to their poll. Based on that, were going to spend somewhere between $25 million and $40 million on a street card extension that will be ridden by, maybe, 500 additional people a day over the 3500 for the first hill portion of the line — many of whom will probably just be diverted from one of the existing Metro bus lines.

      There are tens of thousands of people who live within a mile of this proposed line (55k people live within a half mile of the half price books building).

  3. There’s ample research that businesses in general consistently overestimate the percentage of their customers who come by car and require parking, and that customers coming by foot and by bike spend far more than those in cars.

    It’s unsurprising that these business owners are equally disconnected from how their customers arrive, from their peers in other cities.

    I just bought a home in central Capitol Hill, and I did it because it was walkable, and because this new project will make it a lot more bikeable. Not because it’s filled with parking lots.

    Personally, I’ll also do a lot more business on Broadway once it’s a more bike/ped-friendly streets and where I don’t have to worry for my safety at each arterial intersection.

  4. I cycle along Broadway regularly, as I have for decades. Traffic is generally light and slow (lots of traffic lights) and always seems pretty safe.

    Parallel streets to the east and west provide alternative, even quieter, north south routes.

  5. I was in the bait shop when the surveyer came in. It was during the dinner rush and they asked the bartender to help get a general consensus from the staff. He basically said what came to mind to get them out of the service area as quickly as possible. This makes me question the methodology they used for business data. It doesn’t seem like they consulted with the owners / decision makers or allowed people time to make an informed decision.

  6. Let not the ruination and destruction of Broadway continue north by pushing the drunkmobile aka trolly past Denny. A great victory was accomplished more than 10 years ago as Sound Transit was soundly defeated in its attempt to upzone and locate a staton at Broadway East, Roy East, and 10th Avenue East. The trolly is merely an autophobic hissyfit claptrap cannibalization of existing metro bus service. The removal of any parallel parking along the route is absurd. Broadway is ‘dead’ during mornings due to obscene and excessive parking rates. And, just how many bus riders board and disembark at or near Aloha East and Prospect East stops?? My take is far too few in order to justify any northerly expansion.

    • To call your analysis in anyway rational would maybe—maybe—come as close to being as hyperbolic as your post. Maybe if you substantiated your claim with some modicum of fact rather than reactionary opinion.

      • Fact: The light rail station proposed for Broadway East at Roy East and Federal Ave. East was successfully death paneled years ago. Fact: Light rail abolished the hugely popular Metro Bus #194 from north Seattle through downtown and on toward SeaTac. Fact: Broadway and other Capitol Hill parking meter rates are excessive and streets are barren in the first hours after 8am. The trolly will abolish many street parking spaces. Finally, Metro and the trolly surveyors should provide passenger counts for the north and southbound bus stops along Broadway and 10th Avenue East at Mercer/Roy, Aloha, and Prospect so as to numerically quantify the cost/benefit of trolly expansion.

      • Red + cat =/= 3? Okay, “facts” are great and all, but you’ve managed to compile nothing more than a non sequitur. Fact 1: The Link light rail station at the north end of Broadway may have been squashed years ago. But so was the First Hill station. Why? Because there are externalities that you want to conveniently overlook to make a tidy argument? What you’ve stated above may be truthful, but the inference you use it for is not.

        Fact 2: Light rail abolished the hugely popular #194. First, Sound Transit and KC Metro are different systems—if any agency is responsible for the demise of the #194 it’s Metro. Did it have something to do with light rail? Sure. Was it “abolished” because of light rail? Well… perhaps, though the choice of wording seems kind of inflammatory. Was it light rail that abolished the hugely popular #194? Sounds like someone has an axe to grind…

        Fact 3: Meter rates are excessive + streets are barren in early morning = trolley will “abolish” many street parking spaces… um, what?

        I am sure you are upset about something. You appear to be at least when you can construct a phrase “successfully death-paneled” and use “abolish” twice in near consecutive sentences. Why you are focusing on the trolley is not entirely clear. I would encourage you to consider that the proposal to extend the trolley is not based on near term need, but instead is an attempt to build transit capacity and shape development patterns. Maybe you don’t like it and that’s fine—you don’t need to like it and you should certainly be able to speak out against it. But if you want to get any traction with your views, you need to construct a rational, less emotive argument that substantiates your claims not because you say so or because you demand it, but because your point of view is made intelligible to others.

  7. Looking at the orange graphs….. How come the Seattle Streetcar is not collecting $1M more in fares per year? 750K Riders and only 1/3 of them look like they are paying.

    • Because you don’t have to pay to ride the streetcar. They neglected to put in Orca readers, so if you have an orca card you can just ride for free (says so on the website). Im pretty sure there is a plan to add orca readers but it has not happened yet.

  8. As others have mentioned, it seems to me that Roy is a logical end-point for the simple reason of density. I’m not entirely sure if there are any new apartment projects north of Roy, but I do know there are many more single-family homes to the north, as well as a lot fewer inhabited blocks due to both the park and the curve of the freeway. Given that Prospect is just a couple blocks further up, I wonder how many additional riders this extension would even add?

    • The blocks north of E Roy (the 76 gas station) are 100% residential, single family and LR3 multi family. There is 1 new building planned up by St Mark’s Church. These would be the only blocks of the street car, anywhere in seattle, to be fully residential. SDOTs original numbers suggested maybe adding 500 daily riders by extending to prospect, riders who would likely take the 9x, 60 or 49 Metro buses. The real logical terminus is the 600 block of E Broadway, between Mercer and Roy. A stop on the block would allow people to transfer to the 49 bus easily.

  9. I think that the community feedback process was really a sham. As a property owner and resident on the 700 block of 10th ave E, i received 1 door hanger about the December 2012 open house, and nothing more. There were no signs posted, or other significant outreach campaign. I personally wrote feedback by email to the street car campaign, and emailed both Bruce Harrell and Tom Rasmussen in January, in addition to talking with Ethan Malone, the SDOT PM on the project, and Sol Villarreal at McGinn’s office just last week. No one even mentioned that this today’s hearing would be going on.

    There are many problems with the extension of the Broadway Streetcar line North past the currently planned Denny/Transit Station terminus. The 6 blocks between Denny and Roy are dense commercial blocks that benefit from foot traffic. A streetcar terminating north of the commercial strip will allow more people to bypass the strip and thus skip the businesses.

    Proponents have suggested that the streetcar will bring more customers to these businesses, however, I do not believe it is likely that someone on First Hill, or the ID would decide to shop at a small retailer, or visit a restaurant on Broadway solely because there is street car access. They already have two bus routes that can bring them to the area.

    None of the proposed streetcar options feature any northbound streetcar stops between the current Denny terminus and Roy. So the streetcar would actually only allow riders to completely bypass four blocks of retail they might otherwise pass walking northbound to a destination north of Roy Street, or any destination north of the current streetcar terminus at Denny.

    The walk from the current terminus at Denny to Roy Street is a mere half mile which can be walked in 7 to 12 minutes meaning that any able bodied person could probably walk to Roy street in only a few minutes more than staying on the Street Car. A disabled traveler could transfer to the 49, 9X or 60 buses at Denny. The half mile stretch between Denny and Roy is already host to three bus stops in each direction, and the neighborhood is also host to two bus line terminuses (60 and 9X). The 9X and 60 buses currently serve nearly the same route as the Broadway/First Hill streetcar will.

    • “None of the proposed streetcar options feature any northbound streetcar stops between the current Denny terminus and Roy.”

      Incorrect. There is indeed a planned intermediate station around Republican.

  10. I have a question about the current rails in place.

    If I’m on Broadway and in the left turn lane to turn onto Pine….. how will I avoid an oncoming Streetcar that is traveling North???? Seems like it will cause problems with the way its been laid so far.

  11. It makes zero sense to run this extension all the way to prospect. Why would we extend it beyond the Broadway commercial corridor? The logical terminus for the time being is between Mercer and Roy, as Gregory says. Unless we extend it all the way to Roanoke to connect with an eventual Eastlake-U district line(THAT would be cool).
    Also, I am wondering what the potential effects of sequestration may be on the matching funds from the feds for this project? Are those funds still there? I’m in general fine building these streetcars as long as most of funding is coming from D.C.
    But I don’t think they are worth our precious local transit dollars unless they are given a separate lane and traffic signal priority to make them faster than busses.

  12. We need to consider cost and benefit to extending the streetcar. If it costs the City an additional $5 to $10 million to extend from Roy to Prospect, is there a financial benefit that will accrue to the City (i.e., increased property or sales taxes due to upcoming/development)? If not, will the affected property owners will willing to fund the additional cost through an LID?

  13. Have you ever heard the trip travel times estimated for the street car?

    I remember being downtown Portland years ago walking downtown along their famous streetcar route. I was sick, and so walking slow. The streetcar would pass me and stop, then i’d pass it, and so on back and forth. It was a toss up as to who was faster: sick man or streetcar. They may be practical for people who’s mobility is impaired was my take away.

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  15. It actually makes no sense not to extend it to Prospect as that serves Volunteer Park which is a lot more of a destination than a couple of shops and restaurants would be. Terminating streetcars at a park (e.g. Madison Park, Leschi, Ravenna, e.g.) is an old tradition in cities around the world including Seattle for good reasons. You’ve got the art museum, water tower, conservatory, gardens, etc. Volunteer Park will only become more of a destination over time as the city grows and the need to stay connected to nature becomes more acute.

    What better complement to a lot of new development spurred by the city’s growth and the streetcar itself than more convenient access to greenery. With a terminus further south, one is forced to walk along arterials to access the park. It’s one extra block. Build it!

    • Oh for god’s sake. “Forced” to walk along an arterial? Wow, that is really onerous. Americans need to walk more anyway, and a stroll from Roy St to Volunteer Park is pretty easy…the only uphill part is from 10th up into the central part of the Park, and extending the streetcar to Prospect will do nothing about that.

      Would the extension to Prospect help those with mobility problems? The answer is no, because they would still have to negotiate the uphill into the central area of the Park. And such people already have an option to get closer to the Park if they want to…it’s called the bus, and there is a route serving 10th, and also 15th Ave E on the east side of the Park.

      • Walking is great and Volunteer Park is among our great places to do it. The surrounding blocks are pleasant to walk through, though they are purely residential. 10th/Prospect is a 500 foot walk to the corner of the park, which you can see from the intersection, whereas 10th/Roy is over three times that distance to the park, via a route that is almost guaranteed to be confusing and hidden to visitors.

        The park is a permanent fixture, and the streetcar will be as well, so it makes sense to consider how they relate. It’s as much about legibility as distance. From 10th/Roy the park is 2 blocks in one direction and 2 additional blocks in a perpendicular direction. You end up walking along 10th, perhaps, to cross Aloha at a signal. Ending the line at 10th/Roy “reads” as disconnected from the park.

        There is also a neighborhood to the north for whom Prospect offers better access. St. Mark’s is half a mile from 10th/Roy, but a 2 block walk from 10th/Prospect. These distances matter in the world of transit planning.

        The argument that it isn’t very far to walk can be applied to the track as well. It’s not that big a deal to extend it, but it would make the system more attractive and usable by future residents and visitors, of whom there are likely to be a great many over the many years this system will be in place.

      • You seem to forget that there is a bus route in place to take people further along 10th, whether to Volunteer Park or to St. Mark’s. Why duplicate this service, especially since the cost is a significant one? For those too lazy to walk a few blocks, or for those with mobility issues, the bus will work fine. From the south, or from downtown, they can take the streetcar or light rail to their terminus, then transfer to the bus route. It’s not that complicated.

        And I doubt visitors will have a hard time finding Volunteer Park from the Roy St terminus. Have you ever seen a tourist without a map?

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