Near the end of April this year, URS completed a study looking at what it would take to reactivate the Waterfront Streetcar (including technical and political issues).
I didn’t actually read the entire 89-page report, but here is a summary of recommended reactivation strategies:
- While no major impediments to reactivating the streetcar, one immediate stumbling block is the need for a viable maintenance and storage facility (which was lost with Olympic Sculpture Park and was supposed to go in a new development next to Occidental Sq Park, which never happened)
- Opportunities exist to collaborate with the 1st Hill Streetcar to share a facility
- Biggest obstacles are political and institutional elements
- This is due to a variety of complex, interrelated construction projects planned on the Central Waterfront area (seawall, alaskan way viaduct, waterfront, etc)
- It would cost approximately $10 – $13 million to reactivate
- If it shares a facility with 1st Hill Streetcar, the Waterfront Streetcar could reopen October 2013
- the report says it could also provide an additional option for travelers to get around the waterfront area during construction
- The total capital costs range for reactivation range from $10.3 million to $12.7 million depending on alternative
A few weeks ago, Seattle Weekly also wrote an article on this topic, titled “The Waterfront Streetcar’s Second Run:”
While the streetcar has its devotees, there has been little to no public outcry concerning its state of limbo. Seattleites, the city learned, despise the waterfront’s current bent toward touristy kitsch, an environment which the jolly old trolley only served to enhance.
You’d think these factors would finally clarify the streetcar’s future, with the “suspended” label mercifully changed to “extinguished.” But that’s simply not what’s happening: The city’s waterfront-redesign team, led by James Corner of High Line (NYC) fame, notes in an FAQ that “the future of the waterfront streetcar will be determined during the design process”—a process that won’t be completed until sometime in 2012.
At a recent Light Rail/Streetcar Network Meeting, Councilmember Richard Conlin reviewed this report (along with representatives from local businesses and city departments), and commented that the Waterfront Streetcar was not off the table, but that it needed to have a place in the waterfront design if it was ever going to move forward. When asked what people could do to show their support for the streetcar, he said that the city needed to hear that people actually wanted it.
However, if it comes down to the Waterfront Streetcar versus the 1st Ave Streetcar (connecting the SLUT with the First Hill Streetcar), I vote for the 1st Ave Streetcar connection. It does something that the WS can’t do: connect SLU with Downtown with Pioneer Square/CID with First Hill with Capitol Hill.
In a perfect world, however, I will gladly take both.
What do you think?