On Monday, the City Council gave the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) the go ahead to begin construction of Seattle’s second streetcar line: the First Hill Streetcar. The new streetcar line will travel from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill through the Chinatown/International District and the First Hill neighborhood. Construction is funded by Sound Transit with funds for ST2 projects approved by voters in 2008.
The streetcar line is being built, in part, to link light rail stations and to serve the First Hill neighborhood. Sound Transit determined that it would be too expensive to build an underground light rail station on First Hill because of geological conditions.
The City offered to build the streetcar faster and for fewer dollars than Sound Transit would be able to build the line. In 2009, the City signed an interlocal agreement with Sound Transit, promising to build the line for under $133 million and complete the work in two-and-a-half years. In spring of 2010, the City Council approved the alignment shown on the map above.
With construction about to begin, the City is reaching out to the communities along the line – Pioneer Square, Chinatown International District, Little Saigon, Central District, First Hill and Capitol Hill – to discuss construction impacts, which include temporary and, in some cases permanent, loss of parking; limited access to business and residential entrance; noise and traffic disruptions. SDOT has already hosted two community meetings in Chinatown/International District and Capitol Hill to discuss these impacts. SDOT will hold additional meetings as the project enters different phases of construction.
The First Hill Streetcar will begin carrying passengers during the first quarter of 2014. Until then, we’ll provide more updates and information about the progress of construction. While any large transportation project creates disruption, the good news about streetcar construction is that in most cases any one block face is only impacted for a week or two during the construction period. If you have any problems related to construction, please call my office, or for immediate attention, call the 24-hour construction hotline at 206.257.2121.