Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Streetcar Meetings

Jan Drago, transportation chair of the Seattle City Council has schedule public outreach meetings on streetcar expansion plans. The meeting times and places:

Wednesday, July 2nd - Proposed Central Line at Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, Bertha Knight Landes Room, First Floor, 4-6pm

Tuesday, July 8th - Proposed Ballard/Fremont Line at Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67 Street, 4-6pm

Wednesday, July 9th - Proposed U-District Line at University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE, 4-6pm

Tuesday, July 15th - Proposed First Hill Line at Yesler Community Center, 917 E. Yesler Way, 4-6pm

You can see the expansion plans here. It's worth noting that the First Hill line will likely be part of a Sound Transit expansion.

Maybe I'm off base, but I'm basically for these routes with the exception of the "Central" line through downtown, I think it makes it too easy to fight a future (ST3?) light-rail route through downtown. The Ballard line could have the same effect, but it'd be lessened by the fact that line doesn't really serve the other areas in the west part of the city that need rail: Belltown, "Uptown", Queen Anne, and the part of the city north of Ballard.

16 comments:

Sam said...

Does anyone know what the process was for picking these routes? More specifically, who were the people who did the deciding on the routing? Was it mostly a political decision, or did transportation engineers choose the routes? Was any public input allowed?

Also, are there any printed explanations as to why certain routings were chosen? I'd like to read them. In the vein of .... "We chose this routing on this line because of A, B, and C...."

I'm not being sarcastic. I honestly want to read about how and why they chose certain routes.

Michael said...

I agree with sam, especially about the Ballard line.

Running along Leary from Fremont is an odd choice; there's a lot of light industrial and not a lot of residential around there. Heading north on 8th or 15th would hit more riders at the expense of having to make a left turn on Market.

Gordon Werner said...

all of the documentation is available on the seattle streetcar website under the "NETWORK" tab

Anonymous said...

Can someone help me understand something here.

I am a Ballard resident. The city is saying that they need to find the money for this, in other words Local Improvement District property taxes. So, say the Ballard line LID covers an 8 block radius around the line, what percentage increase am I going to have in my property taxes?

Are my property taxes going to double, triple, quadruple, or more to pay for this thing?

Steve said...

Anonymous: If the LID works the way the SLU line did, they'll split the LID portion among landowners vis some complicated formula involving best use of the land. I believe in the SLU case it was well less than existing taxes, but I'm not sure. I think you can find the history of LID assesments on the SDOT streetcar site, but I'm not 100% sure.

Cale said...

I was looking foward to the Freemont/Zoo line probably more than any. Apparently it's been nixed :-(

I still think they should build a line running the entirety of Madison.

Gordon Werner said...

i'm all for the Central line ... actually I am all for all of these lines.

Bring on the Trios (and hopefully Pentos) I say

Steve said...

cale-

I agree, but as I understand it, the grade on Madison makes it hard. There are apparently streetcars in the world that handle that grade, but I think they need special adaptations.

Seems like Madison is a dense enough corridor to support better service, though. The 12, which runs along Madison over First Hill, is painfully slow, given that it's high-floor and there are a lot of disabled riders...

phil on qa said...

I'm for all of these including the Central. Since grade is such a big cost issue in Seattle, I can see why these routes were chosen.

At this point, I'll bet any future light rail route through downtown will be along I-5 (on top, beside, or underneath) because of cost, and proximity to where most of the new high rises will go (N-NE of the current downtown)

Jonlin said...

so... why would the central line affect future light rail? the streetcar would be at grade, stop every few blocks, and would only be a couple miles long. Any light rail line (i hope) would be underground, stop relatively infrequently outside of downtown and go somewhere outside of downtown and the immediate surrounding areas.

William Ty said...

Drop the U-link! They are getting Light Rail, they don't need a streetcar. Use that link for W.Seattle. W. Seattle has a large portion that has no stops, so quicker something that would FIT more with WS then the U-district.

Jon K. said...

Sam: This looks like the work of engineers. I am also an engineer. As a practical exercise, I decided to look at different places to go in the city and came up with Ballard (via Fremont), UW, Capital and First hills, and downtown via 1st Ave. I chose Ballard via Fremont to provide reliable rail transit to Fremont, and because CBD-Ballard needs light rail, not an at-grade route over the oft congested 15th Ave. Bridge. Additionally, there is the opportunity to run grade separated on the old rail ROW on Westlake, and on the Ballard Terminal Railway past Fremont. This results in huge cost and time savings, making this a very attractive service.

I chose 1st Ave. through downtown because the waterfront is not feasible (can’t cross the BNSF tracks at Broad St., so it will always end at the Sculpture Park) and 3rd Ave. is already served by the transit tunnel.

It'd take a lot of space to fully describe my methodology, but there is a method to this apparent madness.

Sam said...

jon. k., thank you for that! The way you explained it made a lot of sense.

Brian Bundridge said...

There was an artist drawing at one point of the Waterfront Streetcar heading up and over the Galar Street Overpass. Any of today's Streetcars and LRV's could handle the curves on the overpass too...

Quasimodal said...

Ballard-Fremont-SLU to downtown has a lot of benefits. It strings together several high density destinations for one, including two with similar emerging high-tech/biotech employment. It is not well served today, and has potential for almost complete grade separation. It would make travel times between these places demonstrably faster than today, unlike any of the other proposed routes.

But it should go from there into the tunnel. That is a higher use than reserving the tunnel capacity for long-distance peak period riders from Everett imagined by 2050 at the earliest.

Extending the SLU line into the downtown would also be useful, transforming that line from being a plaything and an amenity into a real circulation system by connecting downtown neighborhoods and serving all of the highest pedestrian generators (Westlake, Pike Place, ferries, Pioneer Square and King St. Station). This is also the route that Seattle's tourists traverse every day.

Streetcars and buses are not competing with light rail. They all have an important role to play in a complete transit system. The focus on light rail at the expense of other modes (which will always carry the vast majority of transit trips) does not advance transit interests. Modes aren't good or bad - it all depends on putting them where they add the most value.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I second Quasimodal. Remember in SF, Market Street has BART, Muni Metro, Streetcars, Buses and Trolley Buses. They are all full and all useful.