[See update at the end of this post. –Ed.]
On the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Center Monorail, a new group called the Century Transportation Authority (CenTran) is making an attempt at building a Ballard to West Seattle monorail line by forming a city transportation authority and building on the work done by its predecessor Seattle Popular Monorail Authority (SPMA). According to a press release from the group’s founder, Elizabeth Campbell, published on the West Seattle Blog, 3,600 signatures are required to put the authority’s creation to a public vote in August 2012. CenTran does not yet have a financing plan but aims to create one that is “up-to-date” and “viable”. It is working with the city’s high capacity transit planning effort. It estimates the line will be in operation by December 2018.
CenTran is also seeking to fill positions on its board. Among current members of its interim board are Elizabeth Campbell, known for advocating a Viaduct rebuild and Paul Toliver, a former Metro Transit director and SPMA board member.
The proposed line will be fully grade separated, 16 miles long with 18 stations and cost $1.4 to $2 billion. The alignment resembles the cancelled Green Line with several key differences. The line would run along 24th Ave NW or 15th Ave NW from Crown Hill through central Ballard. Then it will cross the Ship Canal in a new transit/pedestrian drawbridge next to the Ballard Bridge. Instead of going through downtown on 2nd Avenue, the line will run along Alaskan Way on the waterfront. A personal rapid transit (PRT) system will provide circulation from waterfront monorail stations to downtown destinations. From the waterfront, it proceeds to 1st Ave S by the stadiums and over the Duwamish on the West Seattle Bridge, continuing on an alignment similar to the original Green Line to Morgan Junction, with an extension to High Point and Westwood Village.
Reactions on neighborhood blogs in West Seattle and Ballard were mixed, with some expressing support and some thinking of it as an early April Fools joke. CenTran must apply lessons learned from the failure of the original monorail project if it is going to succeed at its goals. I do not know whether this group will work with other community advocacy efforts to build more rail in Seattle like Seattle Subway and the Ballard Spur. [UPDATE: Seattle Subway’s Ben Schiendelman confirms that this group has not contacted his movement, which now includes the Ballard Spur group.]
Full disclosure: I turned down a request from Campbell to hire me to produce maps for an undisclosed project (which might not be related to the monorail proposal) in September 2011. I also volunteered my time to design Seattle Subway’s map.