City Hall

The Latest on the Streetcar

By Erica C. Barnett November 7, 2012

City council member Mike O'Brien's effort to get funding restored in 2013 to study a proposed streetcar on Eastlake looks dead; city hall sources say O'Brien, who won the support of council member Richard Conlin for his proposal to amend the budget to include $1 million, lacks the necessary third vote.

O'Brien said today that he hopes to reach a compromise with council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen to potentially start funding the Eastlake study at the end of 2013, rather than starting the study in 2014, as the council majority has proposed. That would require new money from a source such as the city's real estate excise tax.

O'Brien said he hopes to reach a compromise with transportation chair Tom Rasmussen to potentially start funding the Eastlake study at the end of 2013.

The council has proposed delaying McGinn's proposal to spend $2 million on Eastlake streetcar planning in 2013 for one year and spreading it out between 2014 and 2015, redirecting $1 million to help improve bus service on "priority corridors" citywide.

O'Brien's proposal would have restored $1 million of that funding in 2013 by pulling it from the priority corridors funding, leaving $1 million in funding for bus service improvements on those corridors and spending the remaining $1 million in 2014.

In other streetcar news, the council seemed today to be moving toward spending an additional $1.85 million planning the so-called "downtown connector" streetcar between South Lake Union and Pioneer Square.

The council had planned to allocate that money, which the mayor had proposed including in an undedicated $2.5 million transit "reserve fund," to pay for planning the Broadway streetcar; however, the announcement of two federal grants totaling $1.75 million for Broadway freed that money up for other uses, such as the downtown connector line. 

We have a call out to McGinn's office to get their take on the new proposal, which, again, still does not include the Eastlake funding the mayor's office has said is critical. 

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