I’m watching the Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee meeting on the Seattle Channel right now. This morning, they’re setting up the city half of the agreement to accelerate the First Hill Streetcar. The City of Seattle will do an environmental assessment next, followed by Sound Transit signing off on providing the city funding. Sound Transit already gave Joni Earl, their CEO, the right to sign off, so it shouldn’t even require another Sound Transit board vote.
This is one of only a handful of times I’ve watched City Council talk about transportation, but I’m struck by one thing here: Licata does not like this streetcar. He’s interrupted a number of times asking about how the City can get out of the agreement, whether Sound Transit can get out of the agreement, and whether we can run a trolley bus instead. He was reminded, of course, that the ST2 vote says streetcar. The money can’t be used for a trolleybus.
Essentially, Sound Transit will start providing money in payments to the city sometime in 2011, such that the streetcar could be running as early as late 2013. Sound Transit has funding to operate the streetcar in perpetuity, despite the City being the actual operator. The agreement today will provide that funding for the city through 2023.
There were some small changes made to the agreement today that would give the City Council more of a role – basically, make their role here identical to their role in the South Lake Union line.
The transportation committee passed the agreement, 4-0. It still has to go to the full Council, and it may also need to go back to the Sound Transit board to approve changes the Council made.