Today is Streetcar day here at STB. I read this article from Friday about the Streetcar up to Aloha, then browsed over to CHS where he suggested I write about it. Unfortunately, my grandmother died over the weekend and her funeral was yesterday, but I guess better late than never.

For background, the Link Rail was originally going to include a stop in First Hill, but due to technical reasons, this had to be dropped, and a streetcar from the ID to Capitol Hill through First Hill was proposed. The route (map to the left) will take advantage of the proposed Jackson street extension (map to the right) to the existing Benson Line to cross I-5, where it would go up 12th Street, the up Boren and connect to Broadway. The First/Capitol Hill Streetcar had its plan extended to Aloha street from where it was going to end at East John Street. According to the analysis by Sound Transit, this adds an extra 500 round-trips a day to the 3000 they were already expecting for the East John terminus.

They were looking at about $117.3 – $134.9 million for the East John Street terminus, and according to the email I got back from Sound Transit, extending it to East John adds about $12 million to the final price tag, and extends construction another month. Six blocks a month seems like a bad deal to me, as Portland was able to build one block every three days when they built Max, but everything seems to be slower in Seattle.

3 Replies to “First Hill Streetcar”

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, but don’t worry about the delay in this post — I (and probably other members of your new readership) simply assumed you were going to only post on weekdays.

    One difference that may matter between the building of the MAX in Portland and Sound Transit’s rail plan is that Seattle is, overall, much, much steeper than Portland is. Do you know where to find numbers on how quickly they built the tunnel under Council Crest in Portland?

  2. Daimajin, also sorry to hear about your grandmother and hope you are doing ok.

    btw. this is a great new blog! Thank you for starting it. My partner is a metro driver so I hear about transit a lot.

    given our hilly topography, streetcars make sense and I find myself liking the idea of ‘real’ streetcars around here more and more. In Europe I take trams just about everywhere within the cities and they are a great solution.

  3. Folks,

    I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but streetcars are a bad idea, if by “streetcar” you mean small light rail trains (trams) running in mixed traffic. We have that here in Portland and believe me they are SLOOOOWWWWW.

    Yes, streetcar equipment is more pleasant than bus equipment. Our Czech cars whine pretty badly, but overall they’re quieter than a bus, and they don’t have the erratic motions typical of buses weaving through traffic.

    That said, they are at the mercy of idiot drivers and especially right turn congestion exacerbated by the pedestrian traffic generated by their presence. Unless they run in dedicated lanes or transit malls and have cross-traffic signal pre-emption they are a romantic waste of money.

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