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Roy or Prospect still viable for streetcar’s last stop on Capitol Hill

8446890078_ac8f317f51_oTwo terminus options for the Broadway extension of the First Hill Streetcar are on the table and moving forward.

Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Ethan Melone told CHS that the environmental review process is complete for both the Roy Prospect terminus options. An Aloha option has been nixed. The city is now waiting for the Federal Transit Administration to make comments on those reviews.

The environmental review evaluates the streetcar’s impact on just about everything, from air-quality and noise to housing and utilities. Melone said those documents would be posted on as soon as they’re available.

According to Melone, there’s no firm deadline SDOT needs to meet to make a decision on the terminus options. “Ideally we would like to have a decision before we advance beyond 30% design, so next spring,” he said.

Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 3.17.15 PM, originally uploaded by jseattle.

The Roy and Prospect options presented in last December’s open house are still, basically, the same. One small change in plans based on feedback has been made to realign the tracks in the center of the street as the route extends past Aloha, rather than on the right side of the street. Melone said the adjustment was made to accommodate concerns among cyclists and residents along the stretch of 10th Ave E, who wanted the train farther from their property lines.

The Prospect terminus was the most popular among respondents in a city survey conducted earlier in the year, garnering 64% of the non-scientific vote.

A two-block extension past Roy would add $10 million onto the $25 million Broadway extension. Melone said that funding is still up in the air, but sounded optimistic that the money could be found.

“If funding is [initially] a limitation, it would still be possible to extend farther than Roy.”

The initial line from Pioneer Square terminating at E Denny Way is scheduled to begin operations early in 2014. The total 2.5 mile line is expected to cost around $134 million. Track installation on the Broadway extension to Denny is already complete. Some elements of the restructuring of Broadway will open this year as a separated bikeway route in the area should open this fall.

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26 thoughts on “Roy or Prospect still viable for streetcar’s last stop on Capitol Hill

  1. I’d suggest terminating at Aloha and just make it a big loop like the bus currently takes. Then the train could go down Broadway to Roy, cross Roy and continue down Broadway to Aloha. the train could rest between runs on Aloha where Metro currently has buses resting and stay out of the heavier traffic on 10th. When it’s ready to go, it can just continue on around the corner and down 10th to Broadway.

    • That’s not a bad suggestion…but you must not be aware that streetcars can be driven from either end….therefore, they do not need to turn around before heading back and so a “loop” arrangement is not necessary.

      Still, I think your point that the streetcar would be waiting to return on Aloha instead of busier 10th is a valid one. If Aloha is chosen as the terminus, I hope that Sound Transit would re-examine your suggestion.

  2. Yay! We’ll tear up more of Broadway and put millions of dollars more of rails in, as we do severe cuts on the bus system. Now, that’s a really smart approach to public transportation! Meanwhile, I hope I hope the people who support the streetcar aren’t against higher and denser buildings on the corridor it serves, as we cut back on the other bus routes. Wait — oh who cares about whether most people have good bus service? We love our shiny new streetcar systems, except for the trolley system we shut down a few years ago downtown. But that was well, different…

    Why wouldn’t a nice new bus line accomplish the same things as this boondoggle, at a very small fraction of the cost? Leaving more money for schools or parks maybe (remember that free conservatory in Volunteer Park that there’s no longer any money to support) or the potholes that now pock most of our streets. Because the advantage of a streetcar over a trackless trolley is???

    • “The total 2.5 mile line is expected to cost around $134 million.”

      LOL! Yup. Streetcar is more style than substance and does at best, the same thing for so much more money. But hey look I am modernizing, upgrading the transportation system, I am preparing Seattle for the future, blah talking points blah.

    • are you kidding me?

      This is what we get for the $134 million:

      New streetcar line connecting Capitol Hill, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, the CD, the International District, and Pioneer Sq.

      New segregated cycle track on Broadway from Yesler to Denny

      New traffic/pedestrian signals at:
      Broadway & Howell
      Broadway & Terrace St.

      Brand new traffic/pedestrian signals at:
      Broadway & Pine
      Broadway & Pike
      Broadway & Union
      Broadway & Madison
      etc …

      COMPLETELY rebuilt Broadway from Denny to Yesler
      COMPLETELY rebuilt Yesler from Broadway to 14th Ave
      COMPLETELY rebuilt 14th Ave from Yesler to Jackson
      COMPLETELY rebuilt Jackson St from 14th Ave to 1st Ave

      Brand new gas line infrastructure under Jackson St
      Brand new electrical infrastructure under Jackson St.
      Brand new sewer lines / drains / etc infrastructure along the whole route

      New parklets/plazas at Broadway & Marion and Broadway & Terrace

      show me any bus line anywhere that accomplished anything near that.

      • You are not kidding. Brand new traffic lights. Brand new concrete slabs. I will give you half a point for new gas/electric/sewage lines. But did the old ones stop working?

        If you give $134 million to Metro, I am sure they can come up with some solar paneled buses and cool sci-fi infrastructures that can change our mundane experience in going from point A to point B forever.

    • The purpose of the First Hill Streetcar, a Sound Transit-funded project, was to mitigate the loss of a Link Light Rail station under FH that could not be constructed (due to a wide range of reasons). Plus, the voters approved funding and construction for the project as part of ST2 in 2008. Metros funding issues are related to King County, the state legislature, and are much more recent.

      The issue with building some “fancy” bus lines is that BRT amenities can be easily reduced to save money. It’s a quick, slippery slope back down to a normal bus because most people believe buses aren’t worth a high level of investment. RapidRide is a great example. It was originally sold and voted upon as a high-quality BRT system. But to save some money here and there, cuts were made: many of the stations were downgraded to posts, only a few stations have ORCA readers and arrival signs, none have off-board payment, and they’re all low-curb. Realistically, what we have are some fancy red buses and service which isn’t much better or faster than what was there before. There was no will to build Swift or EmX-style BRT because it “cost too much” and to cut out so many stops. (Though, Community Transit was smart and paralleled Swift with local bus service so Swift could have fewer stops.) Streetcars, on the other hand, have a much higher minimum requirement for infrastructure and it becomes much harder to cut many of those amenities. They also operate at a higher level of service as cuts are very unlikely to be made due to the higher capital investments made. They’re also easier to board for disabled, more visible, quiet, don’t pollute locally, offer superior ride quality, and people generally respond very well to their presence. In the end, streetcars deliver a sense of high-quality service and permanence that people and businesses like to see.

      That said, look at the success of the S.L.U.T. An entire area of Downtown has been transformed from light industrial to a dense urban environment. Even private companies are paying for additional service because people like it so much!

      As for trackless trolleys, there’s a lot of appeal in them. They’re faster, quite, can climb hills easily, don’t pollute locally, and are cheaper to operate compared to diesels. On the flip side, people also oppose the overhead wires and the buses themselves aren’t easily obtained. But most importantly, to most people, they’re still just a bus.

  3. “One small change in plans based on feedback has been made to realign the tracks in the center of the street as the route extends past Aloha, rather than on the right side of the street.”

    Best news I’ve heard all week. Fantastic! Street car tracks on the side of the road can be deadly – Westlake’s tracks have proven very dangerous for people biking.

    • Bad news for all two wheel traffic. There is no safe solution for motorcycles and scooters in the new Broadway redesign. This design is going to kill someone.

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  5. Getting the extension is critical but it doesn’t seen to be worth $10M to extend just two additional blocks to Prospect. Walkng to Volunteer Park from Roy Street take just a couple of minutes. I think the $10M could be better spent elsewhere.

  6. I can’t see the purpose in extending the line all the way to Prospect. The business district ends at Roy St. and that’s a more logical location for a terminus. Few riders will be boarding or alighting at a Prospect terminal.

    But why put the terminal in the middle of the main thoroughfare? That’s a lot of steel rail and parked streetcars, right in the middle of the street. Not much room left for buses, bikes, and cars that need to use that block.

    A better and more logical terminal location would be on Broadway just north of Roy.

  7. Forget driving to Broadway from any where on the hill, no matter how far. I’ll drive to U Village for necessities from N. Cap. Hill instead of fighting a choo choo train that will carry 6 people a run like the SLUT. What is the subsidized cost per rider?

    • Your facts are way outdated. The SLUT started out with low ridership, but it has increased significantly and now carries a lot more than 6 people. The same thing will happen with the First Hill Streetcar.

      I hate it when people use inaccurate facts in a feeble attempt to make an argument.

  8. But $10 Million for a 2 block extension means we are closer to many more millions to extend it over SR-520 (but not connect!) and then we’ll get riders. Or maybe we’ll start getting riders when the streetcar connects with the University District? I see the SLUT pass by. It has no significant ridership. Capitol Hill needs to prove ridership before we toss more good money after bad. Railheads need to sober up: we can’t afford to build a 19th Century streetcar system. The costs of cash, traffic congestion and 2-wheeled slaughter are all too high.

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