Seattle mayor proposes new downtown streetcar line

Jun 3, 2013, 11:20 AM | Updated: 11:57 am

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is pushing a new streetcar line to connect First Hill and South Lake Union through downtown, he announced Monday.

Analysis by the Seattle Department of Transportation indicated that a streetcar was the best mode of transit for this project, McGinn said.

“One rail car can hold 160-plus people and if you can string together two or four at a time, you’re talking about moving a lot more people with only a single operator and that’s a lot more than buses can carry,” McGinn said.

SDOT estimates by 2030, city transit will carry an additional 8,000 people per hour into and within the downtown area. That would require approximately 150 additional buses per hour on downtown streets and would require the equivalent of two new bus-only lanes, according to the study.

But SDOT estimates 20 two-car or 10 four-car trains could handle the same load at far lower construction and operating costs, McGinn said.

Two potential alignments have been selected for further study: 1st Avenue and along 4th and 5th Avenues traveling in the same direction as traffic on each one-way street.

“More jobs, housing, and businesses are coming to downtown Seattle, and we need more high capacity transit to meet those needs,” said McGinn.

Both alignments would connect to the Westlake transit hub, connecting the South Lake Union and eventual First Hill streetcars.

McGinn didn’t announce any estimated costs for the proposal. The city will study both options and announce both a final alignment and locally preferred alternatives. A plan to implement and pay for the project will follow.

Additional details of the Center City Connector can be viewed by the public at an open house on Thursday, June 6th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the South Lake Union Discovery Center located at 101 Westlake Ave North. The public will see details on the two alignments and have an opportunity to share feedback, ask questions, and learn more about the project.

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Seattle mayor proposes new downtown streetcar line