Boren Alternative
Boren Alternative

SDOT has just released engineering drawing of the First Hill streetcar alternatives. The alternatives are still generally along 12th Ave, Boren and Broadway with a few refinements. As reported yesterday, all alternatives will use 11th Ave as a couplet with Broadway. The Boren alternative has seen the most revisions with the Broadway and 12th Ave alternatives sharing refinements. I have included links to the PDFs below.

There are two alternatives for the southern most segment in the International District. The first is more direct, staying on Jackson St and either ending where the waterfront streetcar used to end or in a loop that gets closer to Pioneer Square. The other option uses Weller St in Chinatown to turn around, returning to Jackson at 7th Ave. It also has the option for a loop that gets closer to Pioneer Square.

The Jackson to Yesler is fairly straightforward. There is an alternative alignment that takes the streetcar to 14th on Jackson and then back on Yesler. I would assume this is to avoid the Boren and 12th Ave intersection.

The northern most end of the alternatives have seen the most revision with a couplet on Broadway and 11th Ave being the most significant. The major benefits of doing this as described by Ethan Melone are;

  • simplest and most efficient turnback option for streetcar service;
  • easier to avoid bike conflicts with tracks in only one direction on Broadway between Madison and Denny (see proposed roadway section on forthcoming drawings);
  • improved reliability with only one direction of travel impacted by traffic congestion in this section of Broadway;
  • reduced construction impacts;
  • fewer utility conflicts.

View 11th Ave in a larger map

The Boren alternatives now has two options through the heart of First Hill including a couplet on Boren and Minor and a two-way alignment on Boylston Ave. Also, neither of the options include using Madison, rather opting to use Seneca to get back to Broadway. Additionally, all three alternatives go right through the center of Yesler Terrace using the very southern end of Broadway and Yesler rather than Madison. To me this looks to be a smart move. It’s also good to see that bicyclist safety has been taken into account throughout the project. For example the Broadway alternative would remove parking from one side of the street allowing for a bicycle lane in both directions.

SDOT also released several maps showing the commercial and residential development potentials as well as existing commercial and residential densities of different stations. The maps shows that the Boren alternative would hands down be the best at serving current and future residential development. The commercial map shows that the Boren or Broadway alternatives would best serve existing commercial developments while future development would probably best be served by a Broadway alignment.

UPDATE: Here are some additional documents provided today.

Conceptual Sections

Streetcar Bicycle Interaction

125 Replies to “Official First Hill Streetcar Alternatives”

  1. As commenters on the previous post stated, the diminished capability to extend to Aloha and the conflict with Link construction on Denny (and any potential pedestrian-only plans there) make this current 11th Ave routing a non-starter for me.

    1. Just read Zef’s comment that it won’t extend this far until Link is done anyways, so the construction conflict isn’t an issue, I guess. And so could a streetcar and pedestrian-only zone work on Denny here?

    2. Ethan Melone who is the project manager just sent me an e-mail saying that extending the streetcar to Aloha will be possible with all alternatives.

      Actually, that is not the case. This alignment could easily accommodate an extension to Aloha. The WB track on Denny Way would be modified to turn right (north) rather than left (south) on Broadway, and continue northbound to Aloha, then return southbound on Broadway. An additional passenger platform would be added adjacent to this southbound track, at either John or Denny streets, for southbound passengers.

      1. Adam, minor point, but labeling the Broadway-12th Couplet as “12th Ave Alternative” above is not accurate. There has been a lot of chatter on here about 12th taking the streetcar off of First Hill and this is not true, as the couplet includes Broadway.

      2. You read my last post so you know why I don’t think the 12th Ave couplet serves First Hill. It only partially serves Broadway and partially serves 12th Ave. So it is more of a Seattle University couplet or something like that.

      3. And why shouldn’t it serve SU and future development on 12th just as much as Boren Ave and future development, Adam?

        After all, the station this streetcar is “replacing” was at Madison & Broadway, directly across from SU and not any of the hospitals.

      4. I didn’t say it shouldn’t serve SU did I? Please calm down.

        As I said in the response to your other comment and clearly showed in my map last week 12th Ave is simply too far from First Hill proper to serve it in any meaningful way. Seattle University lies between 12th and Broadway so either a couplet or a Broadway alignment will in simple term serve it equally. This is not the case for a 12th Ave couplet or Broadway alignment.

      5. Agreed: even on Minor or Terry for that matter, the streetcar would still be quite available for the odd person who might be taking light rail to SU (hopefully not a student, as there’s hundreds of residential units available ON campus and nearby)

        I’ve got a logical reasonanswer for Mickymse: that is, a logical reason that the streetcar that ST is paying for shouldn’t ideally travel next to the property lines of SU: because the zoning potential doesn’t make that a good long term investment for people paying for ST. The 12th Avenue hood (everything from B’way eastward to 14th/15th) is zoned for 40-65′. Whereas West of broadway in First Hill, the zoning goes up to 300′ in some places, and as low as 140′.
        Which one has better redevelopment potential, more growth available, more ridership likely? More jobs in their UV, double the number of people commuting, more diversity of land use, and is walkable to the edge of downtown?
        Any regular investor in a private business would fire someone suggesting they should ignore such clear and easy ROI’s. Shelve the 12th streetcar idea for now, and then later use McGinn’s power and Patty Murray’s hard work and get another sc built that fits the need in THAT neighborhood.

      6. Great! This is exactly what I was imagining. This way the streetcar would be 2-way on exactly the most business-dense part of broadway that could really benefit the most. It also works out well that you could have that southbound stop be right in front of the light rail entrance on the west side of broadway, so people getting off wouldn’t have to cross the street. Now we just need to see if SDOT would be willing to close off Denny to cars between Nagle and Broadway (or even 10th to Broadway). How about it, Ethan?

      7. Sure, we could come back and modify the track we are just now planning to build and have the streetcar turn right at Denny. But the 11th Ave. route takes you on a 1300 feet detour around Cal Anderson Park if you are passing through the area on your way to that northern “extension” to Aloha that ought to have been simply part of the project definition from the beginning.

  2. I don’t know about everyone here, but I’m suddenly in love with the Weller Street Loop. I like that station on 7th Ave. Opens that area up a little more since walking up there from IDS is the only option as it stands. And the station at IDS doesn’t involve crossing a busy Jackson St.

    1. I’ve heard that community stakeholders in the I.D. had imagined King Street being much more suitable to streetcar. In the I.D., King has the characteristics of a walking street, with lots of small shops and restaurants, Hing Hay Park, and so forth.

      Move streetcar out to Weller ST and you lose out on most of the neighborhood flavor of the I.D.

      1. The Pioneer Square extension would still be good, it provides lots of people with a one seat ride up to First Hill and Capitol Hill. The Watefront Streetcar still has a large market.

      2. Wouldn’t it be easier to bring it back once the First Hill streetcar is done? As I understand the main reason it was shut down was the loss of the streetcar barn. Won’t we have a new one now that the waterfront line could use?

  3. wonder where the car barn will be … and again … I think it needs to be designed so that if the waterfront line ever restarts that it can use the same facility

    1. I’d much rather they build the 1st ave line connecting Pioneer Square to Belltown, CBD and Seattle Center rather than the aquarium and sculpture garden…

      1. It doesn’t have to be an either/or. The WFS tracks and stations are in place now and likely will be until seawall construction and AWV demolition starts which isn’t looking to be any sooner than 2015 at this point.

      1. That has been done before in Europe. The bright side is it’s only a problem in a short area. The trolley bus wire crossings could be used when the two wires have to cross each other to head on their own ROW.

      2. Inekon Trios and Pentos can work on 600v DC … which is what the Waterfront line uses … no reason why they couldn’t use 600volts (unless they really need the 750)

      3. It’s more likely the Waterfront cars would be rebuilt to use 750v DC. The cars can probably use a rebuild anyway and it would make them more compatable with the rest of the evolving streetcar system. The other idea I’ve heard tossed around is to have the First Hill line use the same voltage and trolley poles as the trolleybuses to make dealing with all of the ETB OCS along the proposed alignment easier.

        In general I’m opposed to building multiple incompatible rail based transit lines in Seattle. It makes it much harder to build a network in the long-term. Personally I’d be for making the streetcars more compatible with Link. Not so much so that Link cars could run on the streetcar network but so that the cars for the streetcar network could be used on the Link lines. Unfortunately that would likely mean custom-built streetcars.

      4. The main problem I’ve heard mentioned when streetcar/LRV shared operations have come up in Portland is the narrower streetcar width, which would necessitate some sort of retractable gap bridgers at the streetcar doors, similar to the wheelchair ramps currently used on MAX and the streetcar.

        Otherwise, streetcars could operate on MAX tracks — there are track interconnections to allow for streetcars to reach TriMet’s heavy maintenance facilities. In fact, current planning calls for the eastside streetcar loop, now starting construction, to ultimately ‘close the loop’ via the future new transit-only bridge to be constructed across the Willamette for the Milwaukie MAX line.

        (MAX, on the other hand, cannot use the streetcar lines — turning radius, car width (clearance at platforms), and the shallow-depth streetcar track-bed is not structurally adequate for MAX’s greater weight.)

    2. SDOT is not as far along on determining where to location the maintenance facilities. That will come in January.

      1. it would be nice to use part of the broadway/john light rail site as a car barn since it’s cleared and owned by ST anyway. i’m late to the game on this so i’m sure it’s been considered and dismissed already but why acquire/condemn additional stuff when you could put a carbarn in where demolition has already occurred.

      2. Not likely as the site won’t become available until the construction of U-Link is nearly complete. The hope is to open the First Hill line as soon as late 2012 or 2013 which can’t happen if the site for the car barn is still under construction.

        There are plenty of parking lots or otherwise underutilized sites along the alignment that could be used for a car barn.

  4. oops … hit enter too quickly …

    anyway … the waterfront streetcar could head up main from the waterfront, and with an additional switch to go from 5th ave south onto Jackson St … it could then head down jackson street back to the waterfront … the additional switch on the corner of 5th and jackson could even be rigged so that only the waterfront streetcar’s contact shoe would throw the switch preventing the new line from making the turn accidentally

  5. also … I really hope they design the line so that 5-unit LRVs can be used (in the future if not right away) … always better to plan for growth in patronage at the start … than later

    1. I don’t think even the Link system is designed to accommodate 5-unit LRVs. If we get to that kind of demand, there should definitely be a more efficient system than at-grade, in traffic running. Also, this line connects two Link stations so you can always take Link to a station less than 10 minutes from your First Hill Streetcar stop.

      1. My favorite version of that tram is the seven section model being used in Berlin. It’s quite a sight to seem them snaking through the old streets of East Berlin. They’re about 30 feet longer than a Link LRV.

      2. Well … my thinking is that their Pento … uses many of the same parts as their Trio (which we have three of (not counting Tacoma’s) … as well as all the systems … it would be easier from a mx and training perspective, never mind customer familiarity. The Pento is just longer.

      3. and the Pentos are single-cab trams … which saves some money … and would work on this line since it is a loop (at least as planned) …

      4. I cant believe they are completely rebuilding the historic Blackpool tram to modern standards with state of the art LRVs… thats like modernizing the New Orleans St. Charles streetcar line with sleek LRVs.

  6. Adam,

    I know this is a straight news story and not an editorial, but surely the same arguments you made against the loop in your previous article apply to the broadway / 11th couplet. It diminishes the high-quality walk shed.

    Do you plan on making this point to Ethan and on this blog or was that just a red herring?

    1. No I think it is a bad idea although certainly not as bad as the 12th Ave idea. My major concerns about the 11th Ave alignment is reduced travel times and a loss of directness in the riders mind. Most riders north of say Pike/Pine will walk to the LINK station regardless of the streetcar alignment. It’s simply faster. This is not the case with any portion of the 12th Ave alternative. I think one benefit of 11th Ave will be better service for SU (esp under the Broadway alternative).

      1. Adam,

        I think you are assuming that the only reason anyone would ride this thing is to get to the Link stations. I don’t believe that is the case. Broadway is a major retail destination. There are thousands of potential customers living to the south in First Hill, Yesler Terrace, 12th Ave, and Little Saigon. Retail generates a lot more trips than commuting. I suspect these trips will account for a sizable portion of the total trips and they should be considered and planned for. With the Aloha extension, the streetcar will also be a major transportation link for the 20,000 Capitol Hill residents to destinations to the south, including hundreds of Seattle University students. This streetcar has the potential to serve a lot more than hospital commuters, but it is not being planned that way.

        I appreciate that you are being consistent in your position though. While I take issues with some of your analysis, your point about decreased service quality when splitting the line is spot on.

      2. Remember we are only talking here about a 6 by 2 block area. That will make very little difference in terms of the walk shed. Also it only contains one stop in each direction, on pike street. Pike between Broadway and 11th is level and pedestrian oriented, so it won’t be a big deal to walk that far to change directions. Compare that to walking from 12th to Broadway through Seattle University.

      3. The extension to Aloha is a whole different story and in that case makes the 11th Ave couplet is worse in my mind. I wasn’t thinking about that before.

      4. People might also use it to get to the various hospitals of which the line passes by … never mind Seattle University.

        I can see many people using it to connect with the Sounder, LINK, i-district, etc …

      5. Adam, Ethan’s response to the issue of travel time around an 11th Avenue couplet was that it would actually be faster than along dual-tracks on Broadway, wasn’t it?

        “A loss of directness in the riders mind”? I see… I am looking now at the engineering diagram that includes the Boren to Seneca option. My eyes are crossing even as I consider this Gordian knot.

        Prediction: No rider will be able to even formulate a mental model of the Boren to Seneca alignment.

        The Broadway alignment — absent that excursion into Seneca but with an 11th Avenue couplet nicely anchored by the Pike/Pine business district and Cal Anderson park — is far more legible.

        The 12th Avenue couplet is more of legible still. It also has the fastest trip time of any of the three options, even before signal modifications.

      6. Yeah I know that. I should have made it clear that that was one of my concerns, not is my concern. I think 11th Ave could work.

        Yes 12th is fastest but simply saying that is over simplifying the problem. First off. the travel times doesn’t include speed gains from Transit Signal Priority which will mean that Boren and Broadway will see larger gains in speed because they have more signals with large vehicle volumes. So the travel times aren’t a done deal yet. And note that two-way broadway is just 1 minute longer than the 12th Ave couplet.

        The second and more important point is that 12th Ave Couplet doesn’t serve the same riders and it will most likely have the lowest ridership.

    2. With the Broadway/11th couplet, the two directions are two blocks apart instead of three, and it’s pretty much flat between the two, while between 12th and the hospitals is a steep hill.

      1. I like the Boren alignment best except that the route is starting to look crazy hard to follow. Boren Seneca Union 11th Broadway Minor oh my!

      2. True story: I was discussing the Boren to Seneca diagram with someone when one of the biggest First Hill boosters stuck his head over my shoulder. He started pontificating to the SDOT rep and to everyone else about how superb an alignment this would be. In particular, he was impressed by how SDOT had been able to move the route off Boren Avenue, because of the terrible traffic that just brings Boren to a stand still.

        Buh? Puzzled by this, I pointed out to him how the route runs a couplet that goes up Minor Avenue on the one side and still runs down Boren Avenue on the other side.

        The poor fellow had made a mistake. But that’s what First Hill booster #1 thinks of a Boren Avenue alignment: it would be mired in traffic.

        @joshuadf: Crazy hard to follow? I know, right?

    3. “surely the same arguments you made against the loop in your previous article apply to the broadway / 11th couplet. It diminishes the high-quality walk shed.”

      It does, but not to the extent the 12th/Broadway couplet does. The 11th/Broadway loop only effects one stop, while the 12th/Broadway couplet effects every stop from Jackson to Denny.

  7. I just reminded myself that there is $280 million of streetcar funds available. Hopefully the City of Seattle will try to jump on that funding to extend it to Aloha Street or extend other lines. Perfect chance of doing it with that money available.

    1. Yeah, we need to really push the city to try to get some of that federal grant money while it is available. We could also try to get the Aloha extension onto McGinn’s light rail measure in a couple years. It’ll cost 25-30 million according to SDOT.

      1. Well there is also Saigon Deli and Saigon Vietnam Deli which both as good as Tammy Bakery though slightly different in style. For Pho I still like the Pho Bac at 14th & Jackson and the one on 7th in the ID. There’s also Tamarind Tree and Seven Stars Pepper.

    1. I’ll have to give Pho Viet a try based on your recommendation, Martin!

      For decades I was a regular at the corner-shack Pho Bac, but it’s gone downhill. A lot.

      Tan Brothers is only good for the free cream puffs. But you can get cream puffs anywhere.

      My gold standard now is the Pho Bac on Rainier Avenue S.

      I’ve been to Tamarind Tree many, many times, hoping that the food might live up to the nice atmosphere. It never has. I much prefer Green Leaf, even though most of their soups have this weird, inauthentic, too sweet flavor profile.

  8. 5th and Jackson is going to get interesting! All the trolleys from the base go through the intersection. So mixing catenary, and trolley wires, and what the heck, let’s throw in the Waterfront Streetcar in there somewhere.
    Also, noticed no more parking on Jackson, so any buses using the zones along there will restrict the street to one lane.
    What happened to the King St couplet under the freeway?

    1. Well the WFS wires are still up, so unless it is extended across the intersection, it won’t be contributing to the mess.

    2. There are currently sharrows on King street designating a safer route than Jackson for cyclists heading towards the I-90 trail. This route, surprisingly, is not on Seattle’s bike map, but I MUCH prefer this route to either Jackson or (*gulp*) Dearborn.

      If streetcars go onto King Street somebody PLEASE include proper facilities to get cyclists up onto the 12th Ave bridge to the I-90 trail. The cycling community is still pretty peeved about the SLUT tracks – As designed they are very dangerous unless you have REALLY fat tires.

      Regarding 5th & Jackson: There is definitely a lot going on there. Adding a left turn from westbound Jackson to 8th Ave S and then another from westbound S Weller to southbound 5th Ave S would provide an alternative route back to the base with only two new switches. Adding a left turn at Maynard and wire to Airport way S would be even better, but obviously more expensive. I’ve often wondered why the trolley network doesn’t have more redundancy built into it.

      Another busy wire spot: Broadway & Madison – That’s some of the scariest wire to go through for me – It seems pretty bumpy and I envision ripping it all down every time I drive through there.

      1. The Seattle Bike Map for some reason fails to reflect much of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan. Perhaps the King Street sharrows are too new to have made the map, they just went in this fall?

        In any case, you’re right, King Street is a heavily-used and officially-recognized bicycle commuting route, as is 12th. I do hope SDOT is going to take nonmotorized input more seriously this time around.

      2. One other thing — has illustrations of section concepts for several spots along the line, all north/south, with no illustration of what they’re planning for Jackson, even though that’s one of the longer stretches on any one street.

  9. No stops shown at or near 12th & Jackson, the heart of Little Saigon? Yes, it would be a design challenge and would diminish vehicular capacity through that intersection…oh, maybe…OK, now I think I understand… Priorities, as they say.

    1. I pointed out to two SDOT reps how poorly their station locations serve Little Saigon, which is a regional destination for Vietnamese Americans. SDOT pointed out that they couldn’t site a station on 12th Ave near Jackson: the street’s too narrow. So they put one down on 10th near the freeway?!??. There’s nothing there, and no one ever walks from the freeway up Jackson toward 12th. The heart of Little Saigon is 12th and Jackson. The stop ought to be as near to this as possible.

  10. I am really like alignment five for the north end of the line. It serves the heart of First Hill while avoiding the most heavily trafficked streets. In Pike/Pine, the stops are at Pike in both directions, which is good as opposed to the other alternatives. I’m guessing this alternative would maximize ridership while not adding much at all onto the travel times.

    1. I think a stop on Union might need to be added to improve accessibility for SU riders if the Minor/Boren couplet is selected. Travel time are included in the study

      Travel times for the northern portion of the alternatives (Cap Hill station to 12th and Boren)
      12th Ave: 11 min
      Broadway: 12 min
      Boylston Ave: 14 min
      Boren/Minor 16 min
      Note: None of these travel times account for TSP saving, thus alternatives with a lot of signals (Broadway and Boren) will have larger travel times savings when this is taken into account.

      Access time is most important in my opinion, not travel time. Because most of the trip on the streetcar are short (around 10 minutes or so) riders won’t be willing to walk far out of their way to use it, and will either use a different mode or route. A difference of 5 minutes is significant but if it reduces access time by 2.5 minute then it is a wash for riders.

      1. The most critical factor for access time is frequency, not walking distance. People hate standing around waiting for the bus / streetcar a lot more than they hate walking. People actually like walking for short distances (1/4 mile or so). People walk for fun and exercise, but no one likes standing on the street corner waiting for transit and running time is critical for frequency. If the streetcar can complete the cycle faster, the same number of vehicles can provide a higher frequency.

        The Boren/Minor alignment would likely be a 40 minute round trip cycle. That means 4 vehicles are necessary to provide 10 minute headways. The 12th Ave alignment would be a 30 minute cycle, allowing those same four vehicles to drop the frequency to 7.5 minutes (there’s your 2.5 minutes). Or you could save operating costs by running only 3 vehicles.

        Running time is also the most critical factor affecting the potential extend to Aloha. The capital costs of that extension are easy to float, but if the southern segment takes too much time, then extending to Aloha will require a 5th vehicle (and thus a 25% increase in operating costs) forever.

        There is a direct tradeoff in terms of both capital and operating costs between Aloha and Boren.

      2. Great point. Two caveats though. Passenger arrival at a station isn’t random until headways are around or below 7 minutes so the actuality waiting time savings will be modest because few will be at the station for those 2.5 minutes anyways. Also while system cost are important, the 12th Ave couplet will have significantly lower ridership than either Boren or Broadway, with Broadway being only 1 minute longer than 12th Ave in each direction.

      3. Oh one more comment. In the end of the day you want to build a system with headways that are driven by capacity requirements, not frequency goals. I.e. the best way to get frequent service is to ensure that ridership is high enough to require more frequent service. Just look at U Link. It snakes around to get to the places were people are. The most efficient route from an operational perspective would be right up along I-5, but just like 12th Ave couplet this completely missed the goal of going were the riders are.

      4. I seems to me that people always randomly show up to 48, 71/72/73, etc stops even when they only run every ten or fifteen minutes. I think fifteen minutes is more of the threshold.

      5. The 48 is so random it is stupid to use the schedule.

        For the 71/72/73 most people are have just gotten out of class and so they can’t adjust their schedule (like leave class early) to coincide with the bus so they just go and wait. Anyways again these buses are all over the place so sometimes one is right behind the another.

    2. The primary focus for the alignment selection should be total trip time (walking+waiting+travel) from each of the major hospitals and SU to the LINK stations at each end. Alignment that results in the lowest total time for all combinations should be selected. Probably will be the Boren alignment, but might be Broadway if the added walking time to get to Broadway from some major hospitals is less than the added “sitting at stoplights time” of the Boren alignment.

      It will be difficult for the southern end to be time-effective. It is hard to see how the streetcar from IDS to Virginia Mason could ever be faster than even the current slow buses heading straight east up from 3rd. But at least the ride will be smoother.

      1. “It will be difficult for the southern end to be time-effective. It is hard to see how the streetcar from IDS to Virginia Mason could ever be faster than even the current slow buses heading straight east up from 3rd. But at least the ride will be smoother.”

        Quoted for truth.

        And yet Adam recently stated that “Trips to First Hill from Sounder and Link would be overwhelmingly from International District…”

        Sounder riders excepted, wouldn’t this overwhelming number of riders hop off at University Station and take the bus up the hill?

      2. Your first quote is not mine. And again when did I say it should serve VM?

        You need to stop putting words in my mouth.

        You need to stop attacking the Boren option and rather make a compelling case for the 12th Ave couplet. As of yet no one has.

      3. Sorry, Adam! I thought it was clear from the context that the first quote was Chad’s. I had no intention of putting words your mouth.

        I am brushing these thoughts together.

        I know that the Boren option is the convention wisdom. But if trips to First Hill from fixed-rail commuters come overwhelmingly from International District, and if streetcar from IDS to Virginia Mason is not appreciably faster than a bus up the hill from Union Station that you can take today, and if the ensuing alignment is the least direct, has the longest trip length, is potentially the most expensive, and is most radically confusing — well I think there are some big issues with the Boren option!

        Even First Hill’s biggest booster shuddered at the thought of streetcar getting fouled up in Boren Avenue’s traffic congestion nightmare.

  11. One thing to keep in mind is that pretty much all the bicycle traffic from Beacon Hill gets funneled onto the Jose Rizal bridge and then to 12th and Jackson. I really like the alternate that runs over to 14th because it avoids oblique angle crossings at Jackson and Boren on 12th.

    1. It looks like this would be an issue while traveling SB on 12th but not NB since the NB tracks are in the inside lane.

      1. It would still be an issue for those going north on 12th turning west on Jackson — quite a few cyclists do this, though I’m not sure why — King is a much more bicycle-friendly route down the hill.

      2. Jackson isn’t actually all that bad to ride on, especially when heading down the hill Westbound. You also don’t have all of the 4-way stops on King to deal with. For some reason bikes seem to be especially invisible to drivers at 4-way stops.

  12. “Simplest and most efficient turnback option for streetcar service”
    Wouldn’t that be simply reversing direction at the terminus? I’m missing why any of these turn-arounds are needed (it seems like a whole lot of wasted track). Is it different equipment from South Lake Union?

      1. No need to use trolley polls on modern streetcars. Their lines can cross trolleybus wires just fine, as the South Lake Union line does today.

      2. The SLUT has only a few crossings with the wire for the 70. The First Hill line is going to be turning in the middle of some intersections with very complex wiring like 12 & Jackson or Broadway & John. That is a lot of crossings to build and maintain.

        I believe Oran is right and there is still consideration of using the ETB OCS for the First Hill line.

      3. The Waterfront Streetcar used trolley poles, and I don’t think it really added much time to layovers compared to what a pantograph would. But then, they did always have two people working on each car.

      4. I believe the waterfront streetcar was monopole, and while there were two people working on each car – one was the conductor, one was the operator. Only the operator switched the pole (front-to-back).

        Sure would love to see our new Mayor bring that puppy back. Those darned wooden streetcars are sitting mothballed while those silly painted buses somehow don’t have the same appeal.

      5. Waterfront Streetcar was 600V, the South Lake Union line, and the trolleycaoch network is 750V. You can get skoda cars with poles, that would be no problem at all, and easier to share overhead with the trolleycaoch network. Overhead configured for Pantagraph operation can also be setup to be used by pole cars (J Church in SF is like this for yard access for the “F” Line), otherwise you do have to have them spaced and insulated so the pan dosent short out crossing the trolleycoach’s negative return.

        I dispatched an e-mail to Dow, since i couldent find one for your soon to be mayor about having the waterfront streetcar share maintance facilities with the new first hill line, and having them connect at international district, either by looping around the neighborhood along with the first hill line, or by using the first hill line only as yard access to enable the waterfront line to begin operations again.

      6. Chris,

        Streetcars with a trolley pole can use the energized wire of ETB overhead. The F line does exactly that down Market Street. It uses the hot wire of the inside pair in each direction.

        Obviously, the voltages have to be the same for Seattle to do the same.

        The Inekons use 600VDC as a default. Is that what the ETB’s use? If so, it’s much easier to forget about the catenary. It’s really not necessary for streetcars. They don’t go fast enough to make all the extra gewgaws worthwhile.

      7. I know it wont happen but I’d love to see PCCs used here. I know Seattle never had them in the past but in introducing them to Seattle dont need to be painted out as nostalgic, rather I believe PCCs run faster in regular service than modern streetcars as they function more like a bus than an LRV. At least thats my perception after riding the F-Market and the modern streetcars of Seattle and Portland. Put some ADA lifts on the rear door like Kenosha and of course PCCs are trolley pole powered.

      8. Anandakos,
        Using the ETB OCS was mentioned in one of the documents for the First Hill line. If you did that it would make sense to use a single pole and the “hot” wire.

        I’m not sure what voltage the ETBs use, the waterfront line uses 600V DC and the SLU line uses 750V DC.

        The SLU line, even though it uses pantographs, has fairly simple overhead similar to the waterfront line rather than full constant-tension catenary like link. Longer term I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to make sure the OCS for the streetcar network works with both.

      9. The ETB’s use 700V. Not sure how that’s split between the wires, if it’s one phase or two; AC or DC, one hot wire one ground, etc. I used to be an electrician back in The Day, but now just sit behind the wheel and leave that stuff to the sparkies.

      10. That would require just a single pole with the return through the rails, no? I suppose the SC is going to be a different voltage than the buses. Sigh.

      11. I’m guessing it would be single pole, though I suppose it could be dual pole too. I’d guess if this was done the cars would be built to use the same voltage as the ETBs.

      12. I think the cars already use the same voltage as the ETBs. The streetcars use 750V. can anyone tell me what the ETBs use?

      13. Also, the historic streetcars (F Market & Wharves) use a single trolley pole and have sections where they pick up from ETB wires.

  13. *Looks at the plans for the three alignment alternatives* Some of the work I did at SDOT went in to those. =D specifically, the street overlays for the right-of-way, curbs, center lines, lane lines, and crosswalks, even the tracks for the Waterfront Streetcar.

  14. I support whatever ends up getting built, obviously. I just wish it would become the Waterfront Streetcar at its south terminus. It would be one of those Doh! mistakes if the two lines end two blocks apart. One-seat rides will have an impact on the ridership of both. And we will get the waterfront streetcar back as a way to reduce SOV traffic on the waterfront. It has to happen in order for surface+transit to work.

  15. The updated portion of the First Hill Streetcar site, the “Density + Capacity with Potential Stop Locations” portion is interesting. It paints a far more compelling argument for a Boren/Minor alignment than I previously imagined. Of course 12th would benefit commercially from it’s alignment, even so it looks as though Boren/Minor would make up for that potential many times over.

    1. It really makes your eyes roll, doesn’t it? It would be so stupid to not integrate this with the waterfront line… At least bring the damn thing back online. Stupid stupid stupid.

    2. Yeah it actually surprised me a bit too. I expected 12th Ave to do better with residential than commercial which I think most 12th Ave proponents assumed as well. In fact the maps show the opposite with First Hill proper doing MUCH better with housing and better in commercial but also more spread out.

    3. At the open house tonight an SDOT spokeswoman spoke about these diagrams, emphasizing how while Boren had a lot of the existing density, much more future capacity existed on the east side of Broadway.

      I haven’t looked at the diagrams myself, but wouldd hope that SDOT used a more sophisticated methodology in looking at density, capacity and economic development potential.

      1. Well you should because he is wrong. And anyways SU’s main campus in included in that map so it kind of washes everything else out.

  16. Since this new line will connect with the currently derelect Waterfront Streetcar, They can plan for the new line to be capable of handling pole cars as well, and build the carhouse big enough to service a modern low floor fleet, as well as the vintage W-2s.

    1. trolley-poles and pantographs can share the same OCS … provided they suck up the same voltage. furthermore, it is possible to make it so switches can only be thrown by one type of collection system and not the other (allowing for guaranteed route allocation where the different lines depart from one another.

  17. A couple questions after reading all these posts…

    1) I thought there WILL be a stop in Little Saigon at 12th and Jackson. If there isn’t one, that is just plain stupid. There’s a lot of potential there and ridership would be high. I am sure there will be one included.

    2) I understand that Ethan Malone and now Dow Constantine have been aprised of having the Waterfront and First Hill lines share a streetcar barn. Has anyone heard if this is definite and where this new barn may be or what are the possibilities?

    Isn’t great living in Seattle now with all these new streetcar and light rail lines coming our way. This blog will be anything but boring for the next few decades!!

      1. I went back and looked at the maps again. If I’m not completely misunderstanding them, there are stops at 10th & Jackson and 12th & Yesler, but not 12th & Jackson.

        Jokes about pho aside, as this is the Southeasternmost point of the line, it would be nice to have a stop here to catch a relatively large walkshed.

      2. Those stops at 10th & Jackson and 12th & Yesler indeed completely miss the point of Little Saigon. It’s as if the planners were looking at lines on a map without having a connection to or an understanding of the life of that community. Fortunately, it seems that SDOT has not given very serious thought about stop selection. The stops on these map are likely provisional ones. So feel free to send your comments in to them.

      3. Because of the way the track has to be configured to make the turn from Jackson to 12th, it wouldn’t be possible to have a stop at 12th & Jackson without removing a traffic lane from either 12th or Jackson.

      4. Plus the stop at 10th & Jackson is really only a little over a block from 12th & Jackson. All of the 12th Ave. couplet boosters keep saying that it’s perfectly acceptable for all users to walk an extra 3 blocks so that the 12th Avenue neighborhood can have half of a streetcar, so it should be okay for Little Saigon residents to walk down to 10th to catch the streetcar. :-)

  18. They should site the maintenance barn at the old INS building. Just run two tracks to it, one down 5th for the Waterfront Street car, and one down 6th for the first hill. Have one last stop on either side of the Uwajimaya, with one way tracks, or don’t stop at all.

    Then when we want to build out South of these two lines, we’ve got a central base facility and can go South down Airport way, or South 6th, or over to 1st and South.

    In the long run, once the South Lake Union area gets built out, the Sodo area will be next.

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