Construction on First Hill Streetcar starts next week

Sound Transit is set to break ground on the First Hill Streetcar April 23. The ceremony — which begins at 12:15 p.m. at the corner of Broadway and Boylston — kicks off two years of construction along the $134 million streetcar line.

It could prove to be a pretty rough couple years for people biking around the streetcar line. For example, the tracks on Broadway will be installed a year before the cycle track is completed. While the official construction detours suggest using 12th Ave, Broadway is packed with destinations, and many people will certainly keep using it during construction.

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10 Responses to Construction on First Hill Streetcar starts next week

  1. Gary says:

    Seems a shame that the street car is going to S. Jackson but not Aloha. That S. Jackson stop looks like a block against reviving the Waterfront Street car and the lack of going to Aloha is stupidity at it’s best.

    • Al Dimond says:

      The waterfront streetcar as it was was sort of useless, and they’re pretty much blowing up the whole waterfront anyway, so they can build whatever they want there.

      Which means probably not a waterfront streetcar, since not enough people that matter want it, and a multi-use path that they envision being used like the one on Alki, because seriously every last bastard designing stuff in this city hates the idea of people actually getting somewhere on bikes (their comment on this suggested they thought the Burke was some kind of Autobahn for cyclists).

      • Gary says:

        Hi Al,
        The waterfront street car isn’t useless for those cruise ship passengers. We get a ton of them every summer.

        But yes, the powers that be want a 1st Ave street car. So that will kill yet another alternative route for bicycles through the city. At least with the Waterfront tracks they have enough room to put them out of our way.

      • Al Dimond says:

        I don’t think we should put in transit lines primarily for tourists unless tourist dollars primarily foot the bill. And I also don’t think we should plan our transit system around avoiding bike routes as long as we don’t obliterate bike access — actually if we did what we’re doing on Broadway on 1st Ave., implemented the appropriate cross-traffic restrictions, and created good connections to the major routes each direction into downtown, that would be better for mass cycling than almost anything else we could do. It would be a bit of a drag, as a fast and confident cyclist, to be stuck in a cycletrack for downhills… but there’s no law saying we can’t bomb the downhills on the other streets!

      • Al Dimond says:

        (When I speak of obliterating bike access, I speak of Westlake. Westlake is by no means unfixable, but it’s certainly broken right now.)

      • JN says:

        As someone who commutes daily on the Alki cycle track as well as along the downtown waterfront, I can absolutely tell you that if they make the new waterfront route a “multi-use path”, it will be absolutely impassable during the summer and during Mariners/Sounders games. Actually, during the summer I am forced onto the street along the Alki cycle track due to all of the pedestrians, strollers, and rollerbladers rudely clogging up the track, totally ignoring the markings designating one area as a bicycle track, and the sidewalk literally two feet away as the area for pedestrians. It is really a shame that one of the only separate, protected cycle tracks in Seattle cannot be used by cyclists during the most pleasant seasons, as well as any warm day at any other time of the year.

      • Al Dimond says:

        @JN: I don’t live in West Seattle, but every time I’ve gone to bike there I’ve had the same experience.

        There’s also currently a nominally multi-use path alongside the now-dormant waterfront streetcar tracks, which in reality is single use: people wearing football jerseys wide enough to fit three people in walking slower than I ever thought people could walk, talking incredibly loudly and slowly in accents that are distinctly not-of-this-region. Barbarians! Banish them from the city!

        Or, you know, not banish them from the city, but we should at least have a path where us local cyclists can basically ride apart from them, because… you know… Barbarians!

      • Gary says:

        FYI, the old waterfront street car actually was a cash cow for Metro. ie, fare revenue more than covered the cost of operation, vs buses and everything else which is subsidized.

        So on that respect, I like transit for tourists, they are clogging up the area and if we have something to extract their hard earned cash and subsidize our transit system, I’m all for it.

        I’m also a fan of those old street cars. I used to bring the kids downtown just to ride it, walk up to the Seattle Center catch the monorail, ride the bus back through the tunnel. It was a “transit day outing.”

        And the city planners are lying when they claim that there isn’t enough room for tracks for the trolley. The issue is that if you only look at a map, a street car on the waterfront and one on 1st Ave look too close together. That they would serve the same set of riders. But if you look a a topographical map, any fool can see that no one wants to walk 300 ft up a hill to catch a trolley.

        As for riding in the street on days that the waterfront is full of tourists, it should be fine. There will be enough traffic to slow down the cars.

      • Gordon Werner says:

        um … the Waterfront Streetcar was not just for tourists …

        it connected King St. Station (and the Intl District Tunnel Station) with the Ferries, the Aquarium, Pier 70 Businesses, The Port of Seattle offices, The Edgewater Hotel, The Victoria Clipper high-speed ferry, Pier 66, the Cruise Terminal, Real Networks, Myrtle Edwards Park, and a plethora of other businesses and Residents on the west edge of Belltown.

        The fact that they are not building a new Waterfront Streetcar line is a shame … especially since it could more-or-less be rebuilt as an extension of the First Hill Streetcar line so that it could share infrastructure, et al.

        Even if it were mostly used by tourists … they still pay $$$ … which is the whole point.

  2. JN says:

    @Al, I totally agree. I just cannot comprehend why, with all of that space freed up by the removal of the viaduct, they cannot set aside 8-12 feet(whatever the standard is) for a cycle track physically separated from vehicles and pedestrians. I don’t like getting frustrated with pedestrians, since both cyclists and pedestrians are neglected infrastructure-wise, but it is honestly creating a dangerous situation meshing cyclists, who generally cruise on the flat at roughly 15mph, with the inevitable inconsiderate groups of tourists/gameday crowds who walk across the entire path. But of course the city will make sure motorists are not unduly discomfitted without acres of free parking and enough lane space to move an entire battalion of tanks in parade formation along!

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