First Hill StreetcarSound Transit and the City of Seattle will be holding an open house at Seattle’s First Baptist Church on Saturday, June 26th to discuss recent developments and the next steps involved with constructing the First Hill Streetcar line connecting the Capitol Hill and International District LINK Light Rail stations.

The Seattle City Council has approved the route for the Capitol Hill and First Hill segments and will have new design concepts for Broadway available for viewing as well as guests involved with the project who will be available to answer questions.

In addition, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle will have an information booth set up at the Capitol Hill Pride Festival on Saturday, June 26th.

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Saturday, June 26 ,
Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard Avenue Seattle, WA 98122
For directions click here.

2:30 PM – 5:30 PM, Saturday, June 26
Capitol Hill Pride Festival
Booth #69 located at the intersection of Broadway at John St.

Update 1:20PM: I spoke with the folks at the Seattle Streetcar re: wonky station names and they replied that they have been monitoring the station name discussion on this blog. When they get to the point where the station locations are fixed, they will try to make the station names as obvious as possible to help guide people and avoid confusion. Furthermore they are open to suggestions.

For More Information: Seattle Streetcar (official site)

Actual route map: Click here

49 Replies to “First Hill Streetcar Broadway Corridor Update”

  1. I’m sure Seattle cyclists will try to put a stop to this, even though other cities’ cyclists have no trouble with streetcars.

    1. Actually, that is highly unlikely. SDOT has learned from their mistakes with the SLU Streetcar, and will be proposing a bicycle integration plan that substantially improves bicycle safety along the corridor relative to the status quo. The plan was developed in response to community input.

      Win-win solutions are possible, but the first step in finding them is to move beyond the cynical us-vs-them mentality and actually start listening to each other and thinking creatively. I encourage you to try it sometime.

      1. So, in looking at the initial designs there are a few pieces of feedback to give SDOT: choose the two-lane/cycletrack configuration for Broadway, increase station spacing to 2000ft+, and make give it dedicated ROW on S Jackson St, which carries around 13900 vehicles per day (roughly 20k is apparently the max for two lanes):

      2. Per my comments below, your target stations are: 12th Ave and International District East (comment below said ID West. The stops are in the wrong order on SDOT’s diagram).

        Every other stop is essentially “owned” by a very powerful stakeholder. You will find it virtually impossible to eliminate any of them. You will likely get push-back on the two that I mentioned, but you have a shot.

        Stops cannot be placed more than 2,000 feet apart on average, per the interlocal agreement. However, eliminating both of the stops mentioned above would move the average stop spacing to 1,960 feet, which is as far apart as you can legally get them.

      3. My comment is sent!

        Hello, I live and work in South Lake Union and frequently use the streetcar. I frequently hear riders complain about it stops every few blocks and I completely agree! (Incidentally, one possible fix would be to close the the unsponsored SLU Streetcar stops at Mercer and 7th Ave, at least until sponsors are found. My coworkers frequently walk to the Harrison stop anyway as it is more protected from the elements.)

        People understand that the streetcar is not as rapid as light rail, but it needs to stop less often than a local bus route. Unfortunately the First Hill Streetcar seems to be following the same pattern. I would like to see station spacing closer to 2000ft by combining and/or eliminating some stops, such as two International District stations and the 12th Ave station. As with bus stop consolidation, no one likes to lose a close-by stop but everyone appreciates fewer stops!

        Also I would like to see an option with dedicated right-of-way on S Jackson St; the SDOT flow maps shows only 13900 average daily traffic, so leaving two lanes for traffic should be fine, especially if bike improvements are made to S King St.

        For Broadway I think the two-lane/cycletrack configuration makes the most sense.

        Thanks for your work!

      4. The issue I can see right off the bat with reducing Jackson to 2 lanes is the high amount of turning traffic on that part of Jackson. At peak hours, the left lane in both directions is a de facto left turn lane. Without it, much fewer vehicles would get through each light cycle. The 7, 14, and 36 would take ages to wade through the ID, and get even more unreliable than they already are.

        They might be able to get away with fewer lanes if they also switched the lights to a 3-phase setup, like the ones on 23rd, but I just don’t know.

        I suppose we could just allow the buses to share the streetcar ROW, but keep general traffic out.

      5. I should clarify that by “dedicated ROW” I definitely meant dedicated to transit including both the streetcar and buses.

        I would feel so sad for those poor vehicles no longer able to speed past at 40 mph.

      6. I agree with your statement that we should move beyond the “us-versus-them” mentality. I think that a number of us on this blog are in support of both transit, walking, and biking. And I think that we understand that improvements in one of these modes does not need to adversely affect the others.

        Looking at the cross-sections, I can’t help but think they range from more auto-centric to bike-centric. First, the option with the two lanes in each direction would change the character of Broadway. When the extension to Aloha occurs, I would hate to see that option used.

        The cycle-track option has always struck me as a good political choice but a horrible choice for safety and mobility. By placing a two-way lane on one side, you will be increasing the chances for collisions rather than decreasing them. It is a popular misconception that the biggest threat is from vehicles traveling from behind. This is not the case in urban areas. Intersections are where most collisions occur. By placing bicycles traveling “against” traffic, you are putting them in a location unexpected by a motorist and, thus, more likely to be involved in a collision.

        Obviously, you can see that I think the option with the bike lane should be chosen.

    1. Of course – but remember that some early SLUTram maps had north at the left and south at the right of the map.
      Too much attention to “branding” and graphics and not enough attention to reality.

    2. it’s kinda hokey … the line running west down Jackson stops at the current bus stop across the street from Union Station (between 4th and 5th and Jackson) This is the International District West stop … the line continues west to 2nd ave where the Pioneer Square Stop is (between Jackson and S Main) … then the line heads East up S Main st. using the Waterfront Streetcar ROW and stops at 5th and Jackson where the Waterfront Street car used to terminate (although there will be new track/platform where the tracks end right now.) This is the Chinatown International District East stop.

      south (Pioneer Sq) alignment drawing here:
      north (Capitol Hill) alignment drawing here:

      1. Per your attached map, I.D. East is clearly the stop at 7th & Jackson, and both of the ones at 5th & Jackson constitute I.D. West.

        Little Saigon is centered at 12th & Jackson. The stop named “12th Avenue” therefore refers to 12th & Yesler.

        So, long story short: yes, the diagram in the top right corner of this thread does have “east” and “west” in the wrong order.

      1. The City still needs to get the green light from Sound Transit before it can proceed with the preliminary engineering for the Aloha extension. Now might be a good time to contact your Sound Transit Board Member(s) about it.

      2. This confuses me. The Aloha extension is not an ST project — the city can, and should, proceed with at least the design phase without waiting for ST.

      3. The toughest part with this is that the city needs the Sound Transit Board’s permission to even use the existing funds to study the extension. SDOT will be asking for that permission sometime around September, so people have until then to work on lobbying for it. It doesn’t require any new funding from Sound Transit, but there may be some pressure to resist any addition to the scope of the project, or there might be some who want any extra money to go to other projects. We need to make the case to the board that the extension will improve ridership on both the streetcar and light rail, and that studying it will open the door to substantial federal funding opportunities. The Complete Streetcar Campaign is currently drafting a letter to the Sound Transit Board making this case, which we will send around to various organizations to endorse. The study costs less than $1 million and should be done sooner than later so it can be integrated into the current design. The actual construction cost is $20 million and could be cobbled together in the next couple years.

      4. Why can’t the city fund the study with city funds? The city seems to be able to come up with funding in the $800K+ range for other things, so certainly they could come up with funding for this too.

        Waiting for ST funding seems like a long-shot given that ST has funding issues of their own to deal with.

      5. The city isn’t asking for an additional 800k, but to use 800k of the original money that ST budgeted for the streetcar to cover the cost of the study. And Seattle definitely isn’t just throwing that kind of money around right now with major midyear budget problems.

  2. The station names leave something to be desired, especially considering our recent brou-ha-ha on the subject. “Broadway” is the street and neighborhood of several stations. How about “John” station, or “Capitol Hill” station (since it will be at the Capitol Hill Link station). “China/International District West” and East are too long; will we be calling them “CID West” and “CID East”? The others look OK although I’ll wait till I see them on a map to see exactly where they are.

    1. yea … I thought it was funny that right after we were discussing poor station names … that SDOT came out with this.

      1. If all people can find to complain about are station names then things must be going very well.

    2. The Seattle Streetcar folks have said that they are open to suggestions for final station names and that they will be taking recent discussions on this blog regarding this issue into consideration.

  3. Are the streets being design in such a way that if people ever get sane the streetcars can have dedicated lanes?

    1. on the engineering drawing for the northern section of the route they have cross-sections for how Broadway will be partitioned for cars/streetcars/bikes/parking/etc …

      of particular note … it looks like SDOT may be using Dexter as a prototype for the bicycle “cycle-track” road-layout (cycle-tracks are dedicated 6′ bike lanes that are placed along the outside of the road between the sidewalk and parking places.

    2. No, it will be virtually impossible to give the streetcar dedicated lanes under the existing plan.

      Dedicated lanes would require the removal of all on-street parking, creates a number of difficult turning situations and makes bicycle integration much more difficult if not impossible. There is simply not enough right of way on Broadway to accommodate all the competing interests in the space.

      However, the speed advantage of dedicated ROW is actually quite minimal given how short the route is and how close the stops are (~1,500 ft). Given the other competing uses, the meager gain is not worth the cost, and that calculus is robust across all reasonable assumptions about mode split.

      1. Actually, I misspoke. It may be possible to consider dedicated ROW on certain portions of Jackson St. My comments above apply only to Broadway. Jackson St. I remain somewhat skeptical about how much of a difference it would make, however.

      2. Tony, while the time savings over a 2.5 mile route might not justify dedicated ROW, the line will eventually be part of a (hopefully) robust network of much greater length. At some point those lost minutes add up if you’re trying to do anything more than intensify/accelerate economic development and move people within neighborhoods.

  4. TEN STOPS! Isn’t this line about 2.6mi total? That’d be stop spacing of 1300 ft, and the spacing on the maps seems to confirm about every three blocks.

    This is a historic opportunity to have decent stop spacing for mid-level transit (2000ft+). It’s not light rail, but I think it can be better than a local bus route.

    1. First off, 10 stops over 2.6 miles is 1,525 ft stop spacing, not 1,300 ft. You have to drop one from the denominator to account for the stop at the beginning of the line.

      Second, 1,525 feet is better than local bus stop spacing. It’s nearly double (800 ft). The SLU Streetcar is closer to 600 ft. The City’s agreement with ST stipulates that stop spacing must average between 1200 and 2000 ft. No closer than 1200, no farther than 2000. I would like to see stop spacing a little bit closer to the high end of that range, but spacing stops more than 2000 feet apart would violate the agreement.

      Also, if you look at the actual locations of the various stops, there is really only one (12th Ave), or possibly two (International District West) stops that could reasonably be eliminated, and you’d likely get some community push-back on each of them.

      Seriously though, send SDOT a comment about it. The feedback they have gotten so far from communities has been to add more stops, not less. They need to here the other side.

      1. Tony, the SLUT is 2.6mi also and 11 stops, so it’s almost identical spacing though it’s not uniform (i.e., shorter near downtown and farther on the lake).

        I don’t see how it could be 1525: 2.6 times 5280 is 13728, divide by 10. 15250 / 5280 would be 2.888mi.

        Too bad about the agreement. But I think we should push for combining stops or something to get closer to 1200.

        I’ll definitely leave a comment. We all should!

      2. SLU trolley is only 1.3 miles. Barely.

        And it’s lethargy has more to do with lousy signal timing crossing Valley Street and on the Westlake segment south of Denny than its stop spacing. (Not to mention the sense among potential riders that one shouldn’t have to wait up to 15 minutes for a train whose entire route takes 25 minutes to walk.)

      3. 1.3 miles each way, 2.6 total. Eyeball it on a map, Westlake from Fred Hutch all the way to Olive Way really is roughly the same distance as the First Hill route. The signals are an issue, but fewer stops would really help.

      4. Actually, I’m completely wrong. The First Hill route is 2.6mi each way, so double the length of the SLU line. This helps me feel better about the spacing.

        The SLU line has 11 stops total, but only 7 each way because of 1 way stops. Length in feet 1.3 * 5280 = 6864. So dividing by 6 (dropping 1 as discussed above): 6864 / 6 = 1144 average stop spacing. So 1525 is a lot better.

    2. I added a link in the original blog post showing the actual route on a map of the area … you can see that the stops really aren’t all that close together.

      1. Oops, I meant “get closer closer to 2000” ft spacing above.

        I like the Broadway section (4-5 block spacing at John, Pike, Marion, Terrace) but if you put stops at both 5th and Jackson and at 7th and Jackson this streetcar is going to get the same reputation as the SLU line of stopping every 3 blocks.

        It’s tricky though since you want to serve both the link station and the Dim Sum places pretty well.

  5. I agree about dedicated lanes on Jackson… keep the streetcar tracks in the center lanes but place the stops as separate islands between the center and side lanes (instead of a single shared both-direction center island). This would allow the buses on Jackson to also use the stops and dedicated center lanes (allowing for bus right hand doors).

    Example of the stop location and street design that I am suggesting…

    I am a big proponent of placing the streetcar tracks in the center lanes of the street and reducing the travel lanes on Broadway down to 2 thereby making a slow pedestrian-oriented neighborhood street.

    1. While it might seem that the 2 lane + bike lane alignment is preferable, the more I think about it, the less I like it. Imagine a car that is wanting to make a left turn onto a side street: before turning, the car has to wait for an opening in the on-coming auto traffic and then has to check that bike traffic IN BOTH DIRECTIONS is clear before making the turn. I think that’s virtually impossible and will increase–rather than decrease–the number of auto-vs-bicycle conflicts. Also, bike riders that want to make left turns out of the bike lanes will have a tough time making the turns safely.

      I think SDOT had better test the 2 lane alignment carefully before it’s considered for Broadway. Each of the different alignments place the streetcar tracks in a different location, so the alignment chosen is a permanent choice.

      1. Isn’t this what signaled intersections are for? Left turns out of any bike lane is already a bit of a hassle…

      2. Yep, the bike lanes between parkingn and the sidewalk make left turns from the bike lane really hard. The plan on Dexter said they would restrict parking 40′ back from the intersection. I don’t know what the plans are for that 40′. The bike lane could jog out toward the traffic lane (or allow the option to do so) which could make it easier. Some of it also depends on if there is a left turn lane and or a right turn lane (using the 40′ restricted from parking. A right turn lane would create a hazard because cars using it wouldn’t see bikes hidden behind parks cars/vans and you’d have a weave with cars turning right. On the far side of the intersection a bus bulb would complicate things. Running a bike lane between the bus platform and the sidewalk really puts it in a pedestrian area. Even if clearly marked I doubt everyone getting off or dashing to catch a bus is going to watch for bikes.

      3. Thanks for bringing this up…I have had the exact same concerns…add together problems crossing the cycle track, plus the supposed higher ped flows we should be expecting, and turns from B’Way will be challenging at least and perhaps very dangerous.

        I also have concerns about parking. This project will inevitably decreasing parking availability at the same time as it may increase development density (& thus parking demand) along B’way. Thus, we may see a real increase in turning movements as people circulate looking for spots, with out-of-the-neighborhood people trying to negotiate the cycle track…yikes!

        I can guess what the neighborhood response will be, but it seems to me a good opportunity for some kind of intercept parking facility somewhere between I-5 and B’way on the south end of the neighborhood, maybe something where your parking fee also buys you an all-night streetcar pass to cruise around the neighborhood (or anyway get back to your car).

  6. While Chinatown/International District East & West are awkward, I think it’s amusing that SDOT/Seattle Streetcar figured this out but ST couldn’t: the most basic solution to the UW/Brooklyn station name issue is UW North & UW South. Directionals are already an essential part of wayfinding in Seattle, there’s no reason to shy away from them here.

    1. Good point.

      On more option: “U-District / UW” and “UW / Medical Center”

      (Or the lengthier but clearer: “U-District / UW Northwest Campus” and “UW Southeast Campus / Medical Center”)

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