Preliminary concept of a typical streetcar platform.

The transit nerds at CHS Capitol Hill Seattle have an update on the latest information on the First Hill Streetcar. At a presentation (embedded after the jump) to the city council’s transportation committee yesterday, the Seattle Department of Transportation gave an early look at preliminary station designs.

The First Hill Streetcar will connect Capitol Hill’s light rail station to the International District, through First Hill. The project was funded funded through the Sound Transit 2 vote (2008) and will open in late 2013, three years ahead of the original schedule.

During the presentation, the department also announced its intent to move the Capitol Hill station terminus just south of Denny, to preserve the ability for Denny between Broadway and 10th to serve as a permanent location for a farmer’s market. And it looks more and more like SDOT is leaning toward a Broadway cycle track. SDOT says that bike path would pay for itself, reports Seattle Bike Blog.

CHS reports that Councilmember Rasmussen indicated that a northern extension to Aloha, which would allow the streetcar to serve the busy Broadway shopping district, is a top priority. The council has asked the Sound Transit Broadway to fund early preliminary design on that section, but officials at Sound Transit tell us that the extension wasn’t part of the Sound Transit 2 plan and the agency has tight budget constraints. The city, for its part, is estimated to deliver streetcar project millions under budget, even if early engineering for the extension is funded.

SDOT’s presentation is below the jump.

28 Replies to “First Hill Streetcar Update: Preliminary Platform Design”

  1. It seems like a dumb idea to put benches right next to the tactile edge as shown in the station concept above. Why not in the centerline of the station if it’s a center platform and at the back of the platform if it’s a side platform? I suppose the idea is to get them out of the main pedestrian path.

  2. terrible, why not simple shelters and cut the obstructive monkeybar design which looks like some 1970s avant garde design? isnt this project looking to cut costs, this seems a no-brainer?

    1. AGREED! What the heck is this? They need to stick with BASIC stations, there is nothing wrong with the current stations. There should be no reason at all to build fancy stations such as this. The basic ones that the Seattle Streetcar currently use or what the Portland Streetcar uses is fine.

      Keep them basic and keep the project as cheap as possible to allow the extension to Aloha Street.

      1. The South Lake Union Streetcar shelters are awful. They create no sense of permanence or relevance to the surrounding neighborhood. In a city with relatively anemic transit mode share, building noticeable and even distinctive stations helps drive curiosity and interest.

        These things matter in attracting choice riders.

      2. then we wonder why a simple surface rail line today costs as much per mile as a subway line did 20 years ago. KISS, keep it simple stupid. the planned streetcar and LRT lines in Portland are economically getting way out of control… $450 million for a 5.5 mile single track streetcar line on an already publicly-owned rail line already operating a tourist trolley. i want to see this project happen as much as anyone else, but this is absurd.

        off the shelf shelters probably function better than custom ones. exhibit A, portland’s new transit mall “shelters.”

    2. Not sure I get the cost complaints until we see costs. Those shelters look awfully minimalist. Concur with Nathan L that we definitely something more substantial than the SLUS shelters.

      1. Jon,

        I assume you are talking about the Lake Oswego Streetcar? The reason for its costs is because of the OCS (overhead contact system) sub stations, 9-12 additional streetcars, brand new track (some of which will be double tracked) which will all need to be re-graded, profiled, new stations, etc, etc. In LO, there will be some traffic signal integrations that will need to be done as well, depending on the terminus.

        So yes, while it is expensive, it is a justifiable expense, not to mention it includes a bike trail along the entire corridor.

      2. A lot of that in the Lake Oswego case is basically deferred maintenance. The current streetcar track is no longer up to standard for regular operation so as Brian says a bunch of stuff has to be built afresh. If it had been continuously maintained that substation cost (for instance) would have been spread out over thirty years, the track wouldn’t all need to be replaced at once, etc….

  3. at least terminating the line on broadway will avoid useless track on Denny if the line gets extended to Aloha in the future

  4. Would the slat design for the station “roofing” be completely open? Or might such a design also include plexiglass so that people aren’t stuck standing in the rain as they wait for the streetcar to appear? From the graphics, it looks like there is a slight discoloration between the slats, possibly indicating plexiglass… though ultimately the station design won’t provide much shelter on windy rainy days.

  5. The designs still don’t show where the trolley bus wires will go. Does the city have any idea what they are doing with them?

    1. Most likely scenario:

      The city rips them out promising to bring them back ‘at a later date’. A decade or so later, the wires still won’t be there and people will begin to wonder. SDOT and Metro will blame the streetcar, budget problems and logistics for not replacing the wires. Then they’ll sell the trolly buses.

      1. The 49 is going to become a lot less important once the streetcar and U-Link open, and could be shortened, reduced to 30-minute frequency, and/or taken off the trolley wires. The 9, if it even still uses the trolley wires since being reduced to an express that doesn’t go to the U-District, is probably being moved to 12th anyway. That leaves buses returning to or coming back from base, which basically means a few 43 trips that could probably stay on regular route anyway. That may be the city’s thinking.

    2. The ETBs and SLUT share Fairview Ave N just fine. Obviously the wires can’t touch, but there’s enough airspace for both.

  6. Wow, everyone’s criticizing the design but I think it’s great! It’s important for neighborhoods to have your system look attractive, and anyways, the design definitely looks like they took pains to see how they could make it look good without greatly increasing the cost. These renderings almost definitely show plexiglass or something in there between the slats. And I’m guessing the final design will have seats a little farther back from the edges, these are just preliminary drawings.

  7. I’m not a fan of these renderings. What’s up with the I-beams? It would be great if the artist would present some examples of actual shelters from around the world for busses, streetcars and light rail and let people vote on the ones they like the best. There’s no reason why we can’t learn from the many different designs around the world and more fully understand the various options.

  8. I don’t understand why the City isn’t designing this streetcar line to look like the first one, South Lake Union. Shouldn’t we be looking to a future with a Streetcar System that operates as a whole? Rather then conceiving of these lines as all separate freestanding operations?

    1. Oh, stations never look the same across a whole system. I’m not sure anyone’s really tried to do that since the ’70s. Just make sure that they’re *technically* compatible (loading gauges, platform height, turning radius, et cetera et cetera — and definitely the same power system).

  9. Will you be able to get off at B’way & Yesler, walk down Boren and 12th to Jackson station and get on the same train you just left up the hill?

  10. It does say “preliminary concept”. That means it’s just an idea they’re playing with, not something set in stone. I have no problem with the roof; it looks more or less like the trellis at Stadium station or in other cities. The center area looks like a covered section; surely they wouldn’t put just open slats in a rainy climate. The city does need a unified streetcar station design, but the SLUT has always been an experiment. We should think about whether the SLUT stations are the best design, not just replicate them because they were there first. For instance, the SLUT shelters look too small for a high-traffic corridor: how is everybody supposed to get under them when it’s raining?

    1. “For instance, the SLUT shelters look too small for a high-traffic corridor: how is everybody supposed to get under them when it’s raining?”

      Shoot, they’re too small even for the SLUS corridor. They’re have been plenty of times I had to choose between standing in the rain or getting to know some tourists or Amazon.Commies a little better than I wanted to. Usually I just got wet.

    2. The mandate, when designing the SLU shelters was to make them “disappear” so that they wouldn’t be obvious and would have the least visual effect to the corridor (especially when adjacent to historic buildings). I’m not saying that is the best policy, but it was the policy in place for that project. It bought some appriciattion from the historic preservation community.

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