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What Alignment South of Union street does the Capitol Hill Community Council support?
The Capitol Hill Community Council has chosen to remain neutral on the alignment of the streetcar south of Union Street. Our proposed alignment for the northern segment is compatible with all four of the alternatives studied for the central segment. Once the streetcar gets to Union Street, it can turn west for the Boren-Seneca or Boylston alignments, east for the 12th Avenue loop or continue straight south on Broadway to Yesler.
This streetcar is not just another addition to the menu of transit options on Capitol Hill. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring about an urban renaissance to Broadway and reclaim the heart of our historic and vibrant neighborhood. The decisions made about the route of the streetcar this April will shape the future of our neighborhood for the next hundred years.
How much will the extension cost?
About $20 million for construction.
Where will we get the money for the extension?
We intend to pursue various different funding sources including Federal funds. In order to be eligible for Federal funds we must bring the project to “shovel ready” status by completing the initial design work. This design work will cost about $750,000. For construction, we also will be looking at local funding sources such as the cityâ€™s capital improvements program and transit master plan.
Shouldnâ€™t serving the interests of First Hill be the top priority?
The streetcar extension is of great value to First Hill as it connects residents and workers there to retail and restaurant destinations on Broadway. It will also connect them with green space at Volunteer Park and the cultural treasures of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The extension is a win-win for all of the neighborhoods affected by the streetcar, including First Hill.
Won’t taking out the center turn lane slow down traffic?
Broadway already thrives because it is a destination and not a thoroughfare. There is ample precedent for streets adopting just this configuration and remaining quite functional for traffic. John Street, Olive Way, 15th and 19th Avenues all operate without center turn lanes. Pine Street was recently reconfigured in exactly the same manner proposed here with no ill effects to traffic. So long as turning lanes are maintained at the major intersections, the impact on traffic flow should be minimal.
If left turn delays do increase congestion, a simple solution would be to prohibit left turns during rush hour. Given Capitol Hillâ€™s interconnected street pattern, a vehicle turning left could easily turn right and loop around the block or simply travel east- â€west along the arterials Olive, John, Pine, Roy and Aloha rather than turning off Broadway. Making great urban places requires having the courage to make small sacrifices in vehicle speed in exchange for big gains for pedestrians and bicyclists. Minor delays during the peak period should not interfere with planning a piece of infrastructure designed to fundamentally transform urban space and reclaim the streets for people.
Streetcars are expensive; why not consider trolley buses instead?
One of the key differences between streetcars and buses is the unique ability of streetcars to attract tourists and retail customers as riders.
They are able to do this because:
- They are simple to understand; the tracks in the street present a powerful visual clue as to where the streetcar is going.
- They are smooth, comfortable and enjoyable to ride.
- They are different, fun and cool.
Commuters have a higher tolerance for more complicated routes because their trips are not discretionary and because they make the trip regularly; they have many opportunities to learn the route. Retail customers, on the other hand, do not have to make the trip at all and do not make it regularly, especially new customers who are just discovering the Broadway retail corridor. Retail customers in general and tourists in particular are much more sensitive to subtle differences in comfort, simplicity, ease of use and overall â€˜coolâ€™ factor. Only 20% of trips are commute trips; the vast majority of trips are retail and recreational. If the city is going to be successful in achieving its sustainability goals, we must focus more on attracting that other 80%. This means focusing on the unique needs of casual riders making discretionary trips, i.e. retail customers.
What is the cycle track?
The cycle track we are proposing would be a two-way bike path between the sidewalk and the parked cars on one side of Broadway. This will allow cyclists to safely ride along this corridor without worrying about auto or streetcar collisions. It will also address the concerns many cyclists have had with other streetcar designs regarding the tendency for bike tires to get caught in streetcar tracks. The cycle track is also the only way to give bikes the priority they need without removing on-street parking that businesses on Broadway rely on.
Will the Cycle track end where the streetcar does?
It doesn’t have to! We look forward to working with the city and other community groups on the possibilities of extending the cycle track and connecting it with existing and future parts of the Seattle bicycle network.