The Stranger seems to have begun throwing its weight behind a 12th Ave couplet routing for the streetcar:
There’s also an opportunity for compromise: Seattle can split the line in two directions, as several neighborhood leaders have advocated, between Broadway and 12th Avenue, which would satisfy the hospitals near Broadway and provide a boon to the 12th Avenue neighborhood.
In fact, that compromise is not one worth supporting and is a bad idea, as we’ve argued in the past. Though a strong argument could be made for new bus service on 12th Ave, a streetcar couplet with three blocks of separation — and with one block up laying atop a steep hill — is unprecedented and would create significant access issues that could dampen ridership:
The first and most fundamental problem with the 12th Ave alignment is the couplet. While the couplet increases total coverage of the streetcar, it dramatically reduces the quality of that coverage. By separating the northbound and southbound travel by 3 blocks, the area that is close to both a northbound and southbound station is reduced significantly.
We also tackled development arguments in that previous post. ECB, the former Stranger transportation geek, recently editorialized on Publicola supporting our conclusions. The Stranger, often a strong and smart ally on transportation issues, made the wrong call here and should re-evaluate its position.
UPDATE: Andrew Smith (founder of STB) made a comment that rings so true I wanted to add it to the main post.
Here’s the problem with this “12th ave couplet is great because it spurs development on 12th and provides access to the hospitals” argument: you can’t say 1) three blocks isn’t too far to walk and 2) it has to go to 12th ave to drive development.
If three blocks isn’t too far, it doesn’t need to go to 12th. Walk three blocks, no big deal. If three blocks is too far, then the couplet is a bad idea because any destination is always three blocks from the train.