Summary of Streetcar Forums

This is via Ann Donovan via Lori Metcalf (Director of Administration, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle)

The following highlights feedback received from community members who attended the four streetcar forums in July 2008. The forums were held to present the preliminary concept route map for streetcars, and then discuss details associated with the line through each of the neighborhoods. The four forums were held for: the Central Line, Ballard/Fremont Line, University Line, and First Hill/Capitol Hill Line.

The first section below presents general comments that would apply to all of the potential lines. It lists the Pros and Cons heard at the forums. Then for all lines as well as the individual lines, questions raised by attendees are listed.


All Lines
Pro:
~Seattle needs all forms of alternative transportation.
~Great mode to connect neighborhoods.
~Streetcars can help Seattle accommodate projected growth for next 30 to 40 years.
~Streetcars are earth friendly, with a smaller carbon footprint.
~Many will ride a streetcar that won’t ride a bus.

Con:
~Tracks are a tripping hazard for bicyclists.
~LID assessments would adversely affect businesses in neighborhoods.
~Streetcars cannot be diverted if there is an incident that blocks the street.
~Streetcars are affected by congestion on a street unless they run in an exclusive right-of-way.

Questions that pertain to all lines:
* How does a streetcar compare to other modes of transit (e.g., buses, electric trolleys, rail in exclusive right of way)?
* How will a streetcar affect the zoning around stations?
* How can we integrate the system to avoid redundancy?

Central Line

Pro:
~Build it now, we need many different forms of transportation.
~Many growing communities in Little Saigon/ID would be served by the Streetcar.
~LID taxes more than covered by the increase in property values

Con:
~More expensive than trolley buses
~Use money for improvements in current system
~Streetcar will be just another partially-funded transportation system.

* What effect would streetcar have on 1st Avenue parking?
* Would streetcar increase congestion along 1st Avenue?
* Can parking be removed and traffic moved to curb lanes to provide an exclusive center lane for the streetcar?
* Could the route be located on a portion of Western Avenue? Or use both Western and 1st Avenues to provide a loop?
* Would the 1st Avenue line replace the Waterfront line?
* Could the line be extended 31st Avenue E & Jackson Street?
* Could the line be extended in the future south into Rainier Valley?
* Could the line be extended in the future south into SODO?
* How would streetcar operate through the “Free Ride” zone?

Ballard/Fremont Line

Pro:
~Fund it, and build the extension to the Zoo
~Build it – need political will to do this
~Streetcars can help take DUIs off the road
~We need dedicated rail – buses can’t do this
~Streetcars will create livable, walkable communities and influence positve zoning

Con:
~Streetcars are limited by slope/grade
~Could tax small businesses out of the area
~Ballard already has good transportation to Downtown
~Streetcars cannot be diverted if there is an accident
~This will not work without dedicated lanes

* Is Dexter Avenue a better route alignment for the streetcar than Westlake Avenue?
* Could line be extended to the Ballard Locks?
* Would gentrification around streetcar line affect industrial businesses in Ballard?
* Would parking on Westlake Avenue be affected by streetcar line?

Note: Many attendees both at the Ballard Forum and University Forum expressed interest in a line that would connect east-west between these two neighborhoods.

University Line

Pro:
~Should invest in eco-friendly transit mode – streetcar can do this
~Streetcars offer greater comfort

Con:
~Eastlake is already so skinny – this is going to create problems for parking and bicycles
~NE District Council is opposed to Streetcar
~U-District may not have as much development potential as SLU or Fremont-Ballard
~The Ave underwent an overhaul, and it’s too much strain on business to come back through with construction

* Would Roosevelt/11th Avenue or 15th Avenue be possible routes instead of University Way?
* How would tracks affect parking and bicycles on Eastlake Avenue?
* Does the route duplicate service provided by LINK?
* How would streetcar affect existing Route 70 service? (There was substantial concern related to replacing the Route 70 with streetcar since it would then require a transfer to access areas south of Westlake Station.)

First Hill/Capitol Hill Line

Pro:
~This line is experiencing new growth and development; Streetcar is needed
~Streetcar Alliance supports, but would like line to run on 12th Avenue

Con:
~Boren is too steep for Streetcar

* Can a direct connection between First Hill and the heart of downtown be provided? (Note: Original Streetcar Alliance proposal included an east-west line that connected Seattle University, the Medical Centers on First Hill, and downtown via Union Street, Seneca Street & 8th Avenue. It returned to Capitol Hill on Pike or Pine Streets.)
* Could route use 12th Avenue instead of Boren Avenue and Broadway?
* What streets have the best grades for streetcar?
* How can streetcar line integrate with the proposed reconstruction of Yesler Terrace?

1 Comment so far

  1. matt0the0engineer on August 8th, 2008 @ 9:40 am

    Aw, it looks like the only two points I made at the Central line meeting were ignored.

    1. Running down 1st without a streetcar-only lane would make this line useless during commute hours and when there is an event at either stadium. I avoid 1st at all costs while driving because of the gridlock that exists during these times.

    2. Why stop at Seattle Center? We would be missing a huge opportunity by not running the streetcar up the Counterbalance. Upper Queen Anne is a dense neighborhood and would greatly increase ridership. Yes, this would require a counterbalance built into the road, but the cost of this is small compared to the cost of the line and the benefit would be great.



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