Post navigation

Prev: (08/19/14) | Next: (08/20/14)

Extended First Hill Streetcar, bikeway will (probably) terminate at Roy in 2017, funding still unresolved

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 4.18.38 PMFor years, maps of the First Hill Streetcar on Broadway have shown a dotted line extending north of E Denny Way to indicate the possible addition of two or three more stops to the route. The city is now ready to fill-in that line, and end it at Broadway and Roy.

Officials at the Seattle Department of Transportation say they have settled on a $25 million extension of the streetcar with a stop at Broadway and Harrison and a terminus at Broadway and Roy — two stops bewilderingly known as the Broadway Streetcar. The city had been considering an additional third stop at 10th and Prospect, but officials said the estimated $12 million price tag outweighed the benefits of extending the line near Volunteer Park.

“In some respects, the writing was on the wall. When we came back with the gross cost estimates, it was a lot,” said SDOT spokesperson Art Brochet.

The First Hill Street car is expected to open in November, running from Pioneer Square to a temporary Capitol Hill terminus at E Denny Way. When service begins, the First Hill Streetcar will have ten stations along a 2.5 mile route from S Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny Way and will connect Pioneer Square, the ID, Little Saigon, First Hill and Capitol Hill.

Planning for the half-mile, two-stop extension is now 30% complete. Brochet said construction of the two stops could begin in 2016 with an opening in 2017.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 4.24.03 PMSeveral organizations were advocating for an E Prospect terminus, including the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Volunteer Park Trust, and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. The Prospect terminus would have also provided a desired connection between Chinatown/ID and the Bruce Lee gravesite in Lake View Cemetery. Kimerly Rorschach, director and CEO of SAM, said in an email she had hoped the streetcar would go to Prospect.

We were disappointed to learn that the Broadway streetcar could not be extended all the way to Prospect Street to provide easier access for visitors and residents to one of our City’s greatest parks and the Asian Art Museum. We are still supportive of the Broadway extension and feel it will improve access and mitigate the limited parking situation in and around the park.

According to SDOT, the line could be extended past Roy at a later date.

The big question before the streetcar extension now is how to fund it. SDOT currently has enough money to completely design the two stops, thanks to Transportation Benefit District spending the City Council passed last year. The two stop extension will cost an estimated $25 million.

According to SDOT, partial community funding will be required to qualify for most federal grants. To do that, the city has already begun studying the creation of a Local Improvement District, whereby building owners along the line would pay into a fund for a certain number of years.

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.

“We’ve always been clear we did not want a LID,” he said. “If it is a LID, we’ll have to be very clear who the rate payers are and how long they will pay.”

Meanwhile, drivers are still getting used to interacting with the existing elements along the streetcar line. Photos of cars and delivery trucks blocking the Broadway bikeway continue to be readily available on Twitter. According to SDOT, no vehicle is allowed to park in the bike lane, including delivery trucks. If you see a vehicle parked in the bikeway you can report it through the city’s Find-It-Fix-It or SPD’s non-emergency line at (206) 625-5011. An SPD spokesperson said people can always call 911 if they deem the situation to be an “in-progress hazard.”

The decision to terminate the streetcar at Roy likely means Broadway’s extended two-way bikeway will transition to one-way bike lanes beyond the terminus.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

58 thoughts on “Extended First Hill Streetcar, bikeway will (probably) terminate at Roy in 2017, funding still unresolved

  1. “We are still supportive of the Broadway extension and feel it will improve access and mitigate the limited parking situation in and around the park.”

    Why, oh why, isn’t the lower road opened to access during the summer and special events when parking is otherwise limited.
    I walk through almost daily and it is seldom used by anyone and the “posts” restricting vehicles are easily removable.

      • I think the closure of the lower road has been a great success. It’s just not needed for vehicles. I walk along it several times a week, and it is used by quite a few walkers/strollers.

        I’m not sure why the SAAM CEO thinks that there is a parking problem in the park….most of the time, except for special events, there is ample parking available. The park and the museum are already well-served by the bus which runs along 15th…..streetcar access via 10th/Prospect is just not necessary.

  2. Oh great. With the extension of the bikeway to Roy, the north end of Broadway will be just as visually cluttered and chaotic as the south end. Meanwhile, even though it has been open for several months, the bikeway is getting very little use. And there has been a definite increase in cyclists using the bike lanes on 12th. Why is this?

    • Watch what you say about the Broadway bike lanes. The PM for the initiative stalks this blog and bashes anyone that speaks negatively of his pet project.

      Extending the street car past Roy as a way to fill a “void in parking at Volunteer Park” and to “provide greater access” is the silliest thing I’ve heard. The last time I checked there is a bus line running to the East and another to the West of the park. There is also a ton of street parking in the area for those who wish to drive.

      25mm to on this project would be an epic waste of money. Especially in a city with crumbling roads and bridges.

      • bash away. The rail line down Broadway is the biggest cluster fuck I’ve seen in a VERY long time. The only common sense place to terminate it is on 10th around Prospect or Aloha. If you don’t want to extend to the U District, then just run it around the loop Broadway, Aloha, 10th just like the bus.

        Broadway was built for street cars and VEHICLE traffic. Until the first leg of the street car track was done, I thought any fool with a lick of sense would have eliminated left turns and turned folks to the right to get onto the cross street. Advantages are obviously straight lanes, straight BIKE lanes and space for the allowance of loading zones. Time your bike signals appropriately and voila, you have harmony. Throw in some public pay lots and you’ve got someplace for folks to put their cars who don’t live IN Seattle.

      • Extend with a loop around to Prospect or Aloha, just like the current #9 bus. If there is no money anyway, when searching just search for a little more. Simple. Big tourist attractions nearer Tenth and Prospect. And, yest, open the lowere road at the park for events for parking. It only makes sense.

    • It’s cute that you think the bikeway is for bikes to ride on. That’s certainly a nice benefit, and ridership will increase once, you know, it actually connects to other cycling corridors, but the main purpose is to get traffic to slow the hell down.

      As for why there is an increase of cyclists on 12th Avenue, have you actually WALKED on Broadway lately? There is only one lane of traffic each way at Denny due to the station project.

      • I totally agree. The bike lane is nice and eventually it will be full, but for now the biggest benefit it is that to build it they tore down the Broadway Freeway. We need to have a few streets where pedestrians are comfortable and feel good. We are all pedestrians at least some of the time.

      • I’m not so optimistic that the bikeway will get a lot of use further down the line. Time will tell.

        It’s ridiculous to say that the main purpose of the bikeway is to slow down traffic on Broadway….that has never been an issue, any more than other arterials. And I don’t think pedestrians felt unsafe on Broadway prior to the bikeway. I certainly didn’t.

      • Calhoun is right, Traffic lights and other controls slow traffic, the bikeway provides a “segregated” place for bikes, except at every intersection where they have to cross traffic in a way that is mostly unknown to seattle drivers at this stage.

        As a pedestrian I’ve never really felt unsafe walking on broadway, 12th ave is another story. And now on Broadway at pike/pine I feel less safe because drivers and cyclists seem to not know where to turn, stop or go.

        And to the point about “prioritizing peds” that Anton made: if we were really doing that, the corner in front of blick would have been increased in size to accommodate the peds waiting to cross the street.

      • I think the dangers of intersection traffic could be mostly eliminated with proper timing of the signals. If they can do it with a median placed Light Rail Train, it could be done with bikes.

    • Electric assist bicycles aren’t allowed to use bike lanes. Perhaps the cyclists travelling along 12th are looking for an easy route to the top of Capitol Hill or over to the other side. Ironically, an e-bike would have an easier time of travelling along Broadway and then directly up the hill.

      Perhaps SMC 11.46.010 should be revised to allow e-bikes to use bike lanes. Most of them are too underpowered to contend with car traffic.

      • “A motor-driven cycle, a moped, an **electric-assisted bicycle**, or a motorcycle is not a motorized foot scooter.” – SMC 11.14.333

    • 12th is much more bicycle-friendly than the Broadway sidepath. Broadway isn’t really safe at much over a brisk walking pace, and has longer signal delays because there are more signal phases.

      The Broadway path is tolerable as a very local facility, it gives access to businesses that front on Broadway without having to ride along the streetcar rails, but for any longer rides, almost any other street is faster and safer.

  3. North Broadway businessman pushes for the extension (Poppy), but then North Broadway businessmen get upset when they are told that they will have to chip in for the extension. Free gifts are awesome, but not infrastructure that you actually have to fund yourself!

    I’m for scrapping the entire extension. As someone else pointed out here, buses are way more economical, and the extension is just a half mile anyway… Get off your lardy butts and walk it.

  4. Seattle amazes me. We have mass transit lines we should be building but aren’t (UW to Ballard, Ballard to Downtown and West Seattle…maybe even something for Capitol Hill to Seattle Center). But once we find something totally useless and unnecessary like the First Hill Streetcar and its extensions, it’s full speed ahead.

    • Like they have anything to do with each other. This is a small local line ($25m) that you are comparing to rapid-transit inter-neighborhood lines that cost between $1-4b (that’s $1000-4000m to use the same magnitude for easier comparison!)

      This line connects to the rapid transit system (Link) at two locations – Broadway + Denny and ID. It will be a great feeder line to Link. We need both local and rapid lines and they must come at the same time for us to have a well-used transit system.

  5. It’s great to see so many people posting comments about how wasteful and stupid this streetcar extension is now that it is finally decided it will happen.

    Here are a few HUGE problems with this extension:
    1) currently delivery trucks regularly use the center turning lane on broadway between john and roy throughout the day. There is no alley for the commercial/retail on the east, or west side of broadway (other than 1 block north of olive). So these delivery trucks will either have to clog the side streets OR block the street car.
    2) the final terminus of the street car will require the changes to the left turns available in every direction at roy/roy 10th/10th (just north of the gas station. You will not be able to make a south bound left from 10th to roy or 10th, nor will you be able to make a north bound left from 10th to roy or broadway, and the gas station is going to lose at least one of its curb cuts. By the way, the diagram shown above is not the roy terminus option as far as I can tell, it is the roy segment of the prospect terminus option. The roy terminus has a stop in front of the gas station, and then the track goes into the middle lane for about 60 feet north of roy on 10th, with a curb/platform that will block the left turns I mention above (from private driveways and the 700 broadway building garage)

    3) The sensible place to terminate this line (if you concede that it will be built at all) is the 600 block of broadway between mercer and roy, and this terminus was never even examined or considered as far as I can tell. It would have aligned the terminus with the north bound 49 bus stop, and stopped short of one of the worst/most confusing intersections on broadway.

    As others have said: the notion that extending the streetcar to prospect would have actually served volunteer park is absurd. Anyone who can walk from 10th and prospect to the SAAM can walk from 10th and roy to the SAAM just as easily, and the SAAM is better served by the bus on 15th. And the 49 bus, already stops at 10th and Prospect.

    I’m no car lover, but it is worth saying that once the streetcar starts to run, and is extended, broadway will be no place for cars, and this will likely hurt the north broadway businesses more than a street car will help them. People in a car will be wise to completely avoid the area because traffic is going to be a complete nightmare as 3 bus lines (maybe only 1 after cuts, who knows) a street car and delivery vehicles jockey space on 2 traffic lanes.

    • Unless you enjoy torturous exercises, Broadway has been off limits to cars for a very, very long time. It’s part of a big, bustling city where driving an SOV will always be a hassle (unless, of course, you’d prefer something akin to a suburban strip mall?).

      • Who said anything about an SOV? What if you are 4 people in a cab trying to get home? Or a 5 people driving from some other nieghborhood to dine at Altura, Poppy, Witness, etc..Or a local business trying to make a delivery to another local business (charlie’s produce, for example, is frequently parking in the center lane to make deliveries to n broadway restaurants.) The point is that any vehicle other than a bus or streetcar (well perhaps buses will have trouble getting stuck behind the streetcar) is going to have a challenging time getting to john/olive, and we still allow cars, single occupancy or otherwise in the city, broadway has been (until the recent construction) and significant n/s arterial and feeder to john/olive-denny-I5 from points north (on the hill). Those cars (and trucks) will have to go somewhere when they can’t make it down broadway and that means they will divert to residential streets with unregulated intersections, likely making things more dangerous for peds and bikes. The plan also doesn’t eliminate all street parking, so every time a car pulls out, or tries to parallel park, all traffic will have to come to a complete halt (as it does now between denny and pine).

        So, David Holmes, unless we eliminate street parking, or ban private vehicles from Broadway, the problem will exist, and people will try to drive on this arterial, and park there, causing delays to public transit vehicles.

      • Because all cars are bad m’kay.

        We should just ban all cars, because, really, all we need is to get from our cool, 2 year old cookie cutter condos on Cap Hill down to SLU or from Freemont to SLU or from, well, you get the idea.

        Just remember: Cars are bad, and we should make using them as painful as possible.

        Oh, you want workable public transportation that could get from, say Ballard to the CD in around 30 minutes?

        Seattle should have that up and running by 2043.


      • This has nothing to do with whether cars are good or bad or deliveries or cabs.

        First, this has all to do with the fact that a pleasant pedestrian environment is quiet and free of fast-moving dangerous obstructions.

        Broadway has more people on foot than on any other mode (except perhaps rush-hour buses) and it’s wise to prioritize for that mode.

        Prioritization means making a trade-off – providing benefits to a set of people in this case (on foot) at the cost of other people (in trucks, cars).

        Now to address your concerns.

        Cabs/Ubers/carpools/etc are a small % of all vehicle trips taken. If you allowed only transit + private carpools of the above types on Broadway (e.g. made Broadway into 2 HOV lanes) there would almost never be traffic – there is enough space for such behavior. If you add SOVs specifically – that’s when traffic appears.

        Deliveries – yes, there is a trade-off, to make Broadway pleasant for pedestrians deliveries will have to become harder. This won’t hurt business – it will produce a lot of complaints in the beginning, but later one people will get used to it and it will be business as usual (just like it’s already very different to make a delivery to a strip mall in Bellevue as compared to making a delivery on Broadway north of the streetcar even of today).

        And last about the general “hurt business rhetoric”. In areas of similar density and transit ridership levels most customers (70%-90%) come by modes other than a personal vehicle. When pedestrian improvements are made these levels go up even higher. So any loss of people coming by car (which I predict to be less than the apocalyptic predictions anyways) will be more than made up by more visitors coming on transit, bike, foot.

      • Anton: If we should be giving pedestrians priority (which I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH, I walk from broadway/roy to broadway olive nearly every day 2x) why does this extensions plan have almost nothing for peds other than a few bumpouts? The sidewalks are crowded, a proliferation of sidewalk cafes (east side of broadways between harrison and republican, and Bait shop’s a bit further north) constrict the sidewalk further, and then add in the jumble of a-frame sidewalk signs…

        I will reiterate my point: vehicle traffic patterns will be effected by removing the center turn lane and adding streets cars on rails and a bikeway to broadway. Walking will become less safe in the surrounding area as vehicles of all stripes divert from broadway to sidestreets and the 12th ave speedway (no traffic controls between aloha and john). Delivery vehicles will have no place to stop to make their deliveries to the vast majority of broadway businesses, other than side streets, where they will create a different set of traffic problems. Deliveries will thusly become more expensive for the companies making those deliveries and the costs will likely be passed on the businesses receiving those deliveries, and those businesses will be hurt. I’m not saying there is going to be some business apocalypse resulting in mass closures, just a few more little cuts that make operating a business on broadway more challenging.

        Why do commenters have to take every comment by another person to the illogical extreme and demonize other’s point of views, instead of having well reasoned (mostly) rhetoric free discussion and debate? Oh, because this is the internet.

      • While delivery vehicle do often park in the left turn lanes in the center of Broadway this is not legal. I agree that deliveries to local businesses will have a challenge, as I’ve pointes out to SDOT and will be reiterating to the Broadway businesses. But you’d be hard pressed to make that center lane delivery locale as a argument against the Streetcar extension with the City. It’s not legal as it is.

    • Gregory, I appreciate your detailed analysis of the possible problems once the streetcar goes to Roy. It’s refreshing to read more rational, nuanced remarks…instead of the simplistic and knee-jerk comments that “cars are bad.”

    • Actually the sensible place to terminate the line would be to have it jig to the left and stop where there is currently a NB bus stop for the 9X outside of Roy St Coffee (700 Broadway East)

      That would be cheaper and much easier to manage changes to traffic than in the middle of the 10th ave / Roy St / Broadway squiggle

    • Want to increase profit? remove parking and cars. That’s why Dulces is closing down on 19th … cause nobody walks there … they even admit it.

      • People could walk just fine to Dulces, but they chose not to do so. Removing parking and cars would not make one iota of a difference. Just because removing parking and cars is your own particular crusade does not make it an answer to everything.

      • “New York’s Eighth Avenue bike lane increased profits for neighboring businesses”:

        Parking is the most inefficient use of a street. Very very few people are able to park there, so it doesn’t bring a significant enough number of visitors to business to help them. However, if the space is reallocated to pedestrians it’s much more pleasant to walk (spacious sidewalks) and more foot traffic means more business (for the kind of businesses on Broadway at least).

      • The sidewalks near Dulces weren’t filled to capacity with pedestrians. I can’t imagine that more “spacious sidewalks” would have saved Dulces.

        It would be interesting to ask the owners whether they feel that better parking or more spacious sidewalks would have been more beneficial to their business.

      • Owners almost always say they want more parking no matter what the situation is. Historic data suggest a different solution and when applied the results support that. Owners, like all people, are simply afraid of change.

      • How lucky Capitol Hill is to have you, who are so much wiser than the business owners, to attempt to legislate their decisions for them.

  6. Wow. I live on Broadway and travel it every single day, usually multiple times on the 49 – so I can’t help but chuckle a bit at the stark difference between reality and the hyperbole and outright nonsense I’m reading from the complainers here.

    You don’t like transit or bikes, and driving at less than 40 in a high-pedestrian area is offensive to you. We get it.

    Outgroup bias and car-centricity is no surprise, but sometimes I’m caught a bit off-guard at how far some people will go to make up a basis for their bias.

    • I don’t own a car, and bus and bike everywhere, so I guess that gives me “street cred” by your definition. Actually, I don’t see the usual rabid auto-philia that you usually get when bike lanes and mass transit is brought up (so far, and thank you thank thank you for that). I think the complaints here are pretty valid. I also think this streetcar is a huge waste of money when we desperately need train lines to relieve the clusterf*ck that is Denny. Adam hit the nail on the head about lines to Ballard and Seattle Center. (I would say we need a line to Shoreline, Bellevue, and Redmond as well, if I had my druthers). But nah…let’s put another silly SLUT up, and spend the rest of our dough on Big Bertha.

      • I don’t see how $25 million going to an economiic development project is going to prevent us from getting rail lines that will be priced in the billions. This is a minor project, completing the logical extension to an existing line that may see very high ridership (at least the city connector does).

        As for the traffic concerns posted here, they are ridiculous. If those same statements were made about increased bus frequencies they would be laughed out.

      • Robert,

        Capitol Hill is getting rail to Shoreline, Bellevue and Redmond right now. That’s what the station excavation is all about.

        Are you concerned about the lack of stations? I am as well, but that ship has sailed. Because Capitol Hill station is the high point on the line between Westlake and Husky Stadium and the grades between have been smoothed to give the lowest inclination, there can never be in-fill stations on U-Link.

        A station can be inclined slightly, but nothing over about 1/3 of a percent. Infill stations would have required the TBM’s to drill more steeply between the infill locations and then flatten out for the station box.

        Since the tunnels are complete and cannot be modified, infill stations are forever eliminated.

        Now a “cross-town” subway from LQA through SLU and Capitol Hill to the CD could have “urban station spacing” and transfer at Capitol Hill to the north-south spine and perhaps at the I-90 station to East Link. But that’s a discussion for the future.

      • Yeah, not to turn this into an STB facts v. “facts” proxy war, but it is always worth remembering that many of the bad transit decisions in Seattle are the direct result of agencies redefining “impossible” in violation of centuries of worldwide precedent.

        The Lausanne Metro is an extreme example, retrofitted out of a former funicular. But this is just a regular old subway train.

        Anyway, Anandakos is right that this particular ship of stupid has sailed… with all manner of poor outcomes (slowpoke streetcar included) riding its wake.

  7. Pingback: The Green Lane Project loves the Broadway Bikeway (but illegal turns a problem) | Seattle Bike Blog

  8. Just saw a car-bike accident on the Broadway “death alley” bikeway at the Pike intersection. Bicyclist southbound on Broadway had a green light and right of way over a northbound SUV attempting to turn right onto Pike. Fortunately the biker was able to slow a bit before collision with the car’s bumper, and escaped with a couple scratches.

    This is exactly the type of accident that was predicted and is continually happening. I suspect many of these accidents are not reported because a biker with minor injuries often won’t bother. So the city’s analysis of the accident rate, if they ever bother to do one, will be an undercounting.

    The driver was clearly at fault, but I still had a little bit of sympathy because it’s probably incredibly challenging for a driver at that intersection to be aware of all the traffic patterns – heavy pedestrian traffic, including jaywalking pedestrians, and an oncoming bike lane in a position (right side of the street) one normally wouldn’t expect oncoming traffic. I avoid biking on the Broadway death lane whenever possible.

    • So maybe your comments are the reason why the Broadway bikeway is underutilized? I thought it was supposed to make the route safer for cyclists, but it seems the reality is the opposite.

      I agree that in places it is very confusing for motorists, with all the visual clutter, increased signage, etc. I’m a resident here so I’m extra careful if I drive on Broadway, but what about visitors who use the street only occasionally? It must be very confusing to them.

  9. I can’t wait until the line opens up this fall and spend more time in the CD and Pioneer Square with my family. I would agree it is not a practical solution, but trains are awesome. Roy extension is perfect. See you on board in 2017!

  10. Re: reporting parked vehicles in the bike lane, does anyone from the city actually check Find-It-Fix-It reports anymore? It used to be great, but the last few times I used it my reports never got any response. I’ve called the non-emergency number before, and the wait times are usually 20+ minutes long, enough time for the offending vehicle to leave. And calling 911? Don’t bother, the dispatchers don’t like their time being wasted on anything that doesn’t involve a weapon or a fire.

  11. Pingback: Broadway Streetcar Extension Curtailed to Roy Street | The Urbanist

  12. Reasons *NOT* to extend the First Hill street car:
    – Zero, absolutely Zero evidence that it will result in incremental transit ridership due to an extension, whether just to Prospect or beyond.
    – Better ways to spend the $25mm which, by the way, is UNfunded. Like, spend it on better pedestrian and bikeways through the corridor. Or upgrade Wi-Fi enabled trolleys on the #7 and #10/12 lines. For $25mm you could provide free espresso, too :-)
    – No solid evidence the already-built ID-to-Cap Hill line will attract enough riders to pay its electric bill–much less its operating costs (not to mention costs of car-streetcar + bike-streetcar accidents).
    – And that current line hasn’t started running yet, right? And does anyone really think there is pent-up demand for a route between the ID and Cap Hill?

    This street car line shows all appearances of being an SDOT boondoggle, advanced and supported by the consultants paid to design it.
    **It is not inevitable, but the place to apply pressure is the City Council–not this community blog.**

    • Apparently you are not aware that Sound Transit built and funded the route from the ID to Denny as mitigation for not being able to build a rail stop on First Hill. The idea is to provide close access to the medical facilities on First Hill. It remains to be seen what the ridership will be, but I assume the projections supported the building of the line. To call this an “SDOT boondoggle” is just not accurate. The extension to Roy, though, is a separate issue, and will require funding if it is to happen.

  13. Pingback: Capitol Hill bike notes | Big day for bike share, Broadway bikeway extension, Greenway meetings | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  14. Pingback: News Roundup: Faces of the Plaza

  15. Pingback: Broadway bikeway — now serving 600+ trips a day — will help shape a safer 2nd Ave | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  16. Pingback: First Hill Streetcar ready for November rides? | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  17. Pingback: A colorful start to Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar testing | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  18. Pingback: Local tax eyed as $12 million still needed to fund First Hill Streetcar’s Broadway extension | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle