Central District News reports that the Seattle Department of Transportation is nearing a funding agreement with Sound Transit on the First Hill streetcar, which would connect the Capitol Hill light rail station with the International District station through First Hill and edges of the Central District.
Voters approved Sound Transit funding the streetcar line last November. At the time, the city agreed to handle construction at a cost lower than Sound Transit expected to reach independently. The city also agreed to be on the hook for any cost over-runs. Sound Transit would give the city $132,780,000, according to the report.
Initially planned to be built by 2016, the city is attempting to accelerate construction of its second streetcar line. Having a funding agreement in place is the first step toward delivering the streetcar years ahead of schedule. It now looks likely to see a 2013 delivery date for the streetcar, as early missed milestones may have put a planned 2012 date in the territory of too optimistic.
The exact routing of the line is still to be determined, with some groups arguing for an alignment on 12th ave near Seattle University to serve the Central District and an active street while others favor serving the hospitals by remaining on Broadway (see earlier coverage). The funding would cover these planning stages.
Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn has committed to completing this streetcar, as it is voter approved and already funded. His opponent, Joe Mallahan, is decidedly more lukewarm on the project. He told the Seattle Times that he would study and maybe even oppose the streetcar but has been vague on his exact stance since that remark. His new standard seems to be that a cost over-run of perhaps even a single dollar would justify canceling the project. McGinn, on the other hand, caused a stir in the transit community last week by promising to hold a vote for in-city light rail expansion in two years time.