SDOT held the first open house for the Central City Connector Corridor Study on Wednesday night at City Hall. Three more open houses will be held as planning progresses over the past year. Mayor McGinn was first to take the stage, followed by Richard Conlin and finally project manager Tony Mazzella. McGinn spoke about the process of updating the Transit Master Plan and the need for many different revenue sources, including potentially ST3. Conlin billed himself as a streetcar “skeptic” who was converted by having seen the Portland Streetcar and then the Seattle line in operation.
Here’s the proposed purpose, according to SDOT:
To serve the growing demand for Center City circulation trips with a mode and street alignment that is:
• Highly legible and easy to use for a variety of trip purposes
• Provides continuity of travel between the downtown commercial core and adjacent Center City neighborhoods that are or will be served by the South Lake Union Streetcar and the First Hill Streetcar
When the TMP was first announced in 2011, Martin did a thorough analysis of the CC1 (1st Avenue) and CC2 (4th/5th Avenues). STB commenter and occasional contributor Mike Orr was at last night’s meeting and wrote in with the following comments:
The feedback on the group-brainstorm sheets showed about half the people prefer 1st Avenue to Seattle Center. The rest were about even on 4th/5th or 1st-to-Westlake. A few people preferred bus or trolleybus over rail to save money. A few said to put all resources into a 3rd Avenue transit mall. And a few said to revive the vintage waterfront streetcar.
The question of alignment is obviously going to be an important one, but before we get there I think it’s important to step back and make sure we’ve got the right goals in mind. One potential outcome of the connector, if built, would be to knit together downtown with its adjacent residential neighborhoods, and make the area bounded roughly by Mercer Ave, Broadway, and Jackson St. feel like a single neighborhood – in which one can bounce around freely and frequently.
Alternatively, if this is to be the first leg of an eventual line to Ballard, that’s a different project with very different needs than a downtown circulator. The relative importance of measures like frequency, reliability and travel time benefits depends in large part on what happens to the streetcar system outside of downtown. We’ll look forward to seeing more clarity in this regard with the release of the purpose and needs statement in the next few weeks, and over the year as the plan evolves.
Mike Orr contributed to this report