Seattle Streetcar Expansion Put Into Limbo

Owing to questions about the value of the project, Seattle’s proposed First Hill Streetcar expansion has been put on ice by the Seattle Department of Transportation, according to recent reports.

The new plan is apparently for the Seattle Department of Transportation to revisit the plan “with stakeholders sometime in 2017.” The reason for the decision was reportedly a lack of support amongst local businesses for the current designs and financial plan.

The proposed streetcar expansion would have seen the First Hill line extended north on Broadway (beyond Denny) with 2 new stops added (Harrison and Roy).

Following the chamber’s reversal of support on the matter, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce executive director, Sierra Hansen, stated: “If we want to see Broadway thrive … the streetcar is actually the best way to undermine that.”

Here’s more on that: “Since taking on the role of executive director in November 2015, Hansen has spoken to many businesses about the extension and the overwhelming majority oppose it. The design is about 90% complete, SDOT’s transit mobility director Andrew Glass Hastings said, which also includes extending the separated Broadway bikeway. As the plan is right now, Hansen said the design would negatively impact businesses.”

Hansen stated: “It would basically gut access to businesses on Broadway. … The extension plan includes removal of another handful of left turns on Broadway, restricting mobility, Hansen said. She said access for delivery trucks is a particular concern as they are already dealing with difficulties on Broadway and at times park in the bikeway to make a delivery.”

Hence the lack of support amongst area businesses.

Without expansion, though, the streetcar line is very limited in its utility. It only runs 2.5 miles — all of which shares streets with cars and buses and is just as affected by traffic problems as those two travel modalities are.

Seemingly, this is a situation that serves to support the arguments of anti-streetcar critics — even though there’s no doubt that such systems can prove themselves highly useful if designed well and if the political will is there to implement plans without too much modification. …

We’ll let you know if the situation changes.

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