City Hall

Council Committee Approves Streetcar Construction

By Erica C. Barnett February 28, 2012

The city council's transportation committee approved a contract to move forward with construction of the First Hill Streetcar this morning---one of the final hurdles before construction on the Pioneer-Square-to-First-Hill streetcar line can move forward.

The First Hill streetcar is being built as mitigation for Sound Transit's decision to eliminate a planned underground stop on First Hill; it will run from First Avenue S. in Pioneer Square, dip into the Central District via South Jackson St., and loop back along Yesler down to Broadway, terminating at Broadway and Denny.

Plans to extend the line to Aloha St., on the north end of Broadway, have not been successful so far, but Capitol Hill Seattle reports that transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen plans to meet with the head of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to discuss the potential extension later this week. The agreement caps the amount Sound Transit will spend at $132.8 million, and, since the streetcar bids all came in significantly higher than expected, it's unlikely there will be enough left over to build the extension without additional money from the federal government.

On the Pioneer Square end of the proposed line, council members and the Seattle Department of Transportation agreed, under pressure from neighborhood businesses and residents, to extend the line all the way to First Ave. S. That scenario, streetcar project manager Ethan Melone said today, will allow the streetcar to run at ten-minute intervals during the day, with four streetcars in service most of the day, five cars at peak hours, and an operator on duty to relieve drivers who go on break so headways aren't disrupted.

Find out more about the city and Sound Transit's streetcar plans at SDOT's open house on the project tonight, from 5:00 – 8:00 pm
at the Ruth Fisher Board Room in Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St.

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