Study: Waterfront Streetcar important option for Seattle mobility

A study by transportation planner Peter J. Voorhees shows that the Waterfront Streetcar line is an important component of citywide transit mobility. Voorhees proposes frequent service, to be provided by both vintage and modern streetcars (as is done on San Francisco’s F-Market line along the Embarcadero). The study envisions eventual connections to other lines at both of the line’s endpoints, as well as additional service during events. From Ch. 6, p. 143:

The
 Benson 
Waterfront 
Line
 has 
become
 an 
afterthought
 in 
Seattle, too
 easily
 forgotten
 since
 its
 discontinuation
 due
 to
 lack
 of
 a
 maintenance base. The set of alternatives for rebuilding Alaskan Way once the Viaduct is removed
 should
 include
 a
 streetcar
 median.
 The
 northern
 waterfront
 is sufficiently
 separated
 from
 First
 Avenue
 to
 justify
 consideration
 of
 a recreational 
trip 
streetcar
 connection.
 Future street closures at the railroad tracks along the North Waterfront will potentially isolate the waterfront even further.

One
 possible
 Waterfront
 Streetcar
 configuration
 is
 a
 hybrid
 modern and
 vintage
 waterfront
 streetcar
 line.
 Vintage
 Benson
 Line
 vehicles
 would operate and
 a
 maintenance
 facility
 would
 be
 located
 in
 Pioneer
 Square
 or
 the International
 District—ideally
 shared
 with
 the
 Jackson
 Street/First
 Hill
 Line. The
 Benson
 Line
 would
 feature
 high
 platform
 stops,
 including
 the
 existing stop on Main Street in Pioneer Square, and the line would be double tracked. Along 
the 
Waterfront, 
the 
line’s 
stations 
would
 be 
designed 
to accommodate future low-floor, modern streetcar service in addition to vintage car service.

The Benson Line northern terminus would be located along Alaskan Way at the
 Olympic
 Sculpture
 Park.
 Worth
 considering,
 however,
 is
 the
 future certainty of a roadway bridge over the railroad main line at Broad Street and Alaskan
 Way.
 If
 this
 bridge
 were
 designed
 to
 accommodate
 streetcar,
 it would
 enable
 a
 streetcar
 transition
 between
 Alaskan
 Way
 and
 Western Avenue.
 This
 line
 can
 conceivably
 join
 the
 First
 Avenue
 Line
 at
 Denny
 Way and
 extend
 to
 Uptown/Seattle
 Center
 West.
 Extending
 further
 along
 the north side of Seattle Center (Mercer Street/Roy Street corridor) would serve the Mercer Theater District and connect to South Lake Union. This line offers promise as a recreational connection linking the two downtown waterfronts. Connecting the line on its south end with the SODO line would link the line’s major
 attractions
 with
 the
 Stadium
 District.
 Aside
 from
 the
 Waterfront
 to International
 District
 segments,
 the
 line
 would
 logically
 be
 designed
 for operation with modern streetcar rather than vintage vehicles.


One comment on “Study: Waterfront Streetcar important option for Seattle mobility
  1. Art Lewellan says:

    I’ve long supported a Broad St bridge over the railroad but didn’t know it was considered a certainty. Between King and Union Streets, since 2001 I’ve promoted a design for a 2-lane frontage road (historic Railway Ave) alongside 4-lane Alaskan Way. The additional road space is basic street traffic management; more curbside parking, one streetcar track and bikeway on the islands, the other streetcar track on Railway Ave; sidewalks along both sides of Railway Ave; potential for 3 super-islands to reduce the number of stoplight intersections from 12 to 9 and most important, divide thru-traffic from local traffic between Western and Railway Aves on the central Waterfront stretch.

    The deep bore tunnel will further destabilize already unstable soils unavoidably undermining historic and modern building foundations beyond repair and create extreme risk of actual building collapse in earthquakes. The “Waterfront Soil Stabilization” plan is an oxymoron as it will do just the opposite. Water should not be allowed to permeate through any seawall replacement and risk soil filtration which causes voids and sinkholes.

    Mercer West is atrocious. To redirect 20,000 vehicles along the steep Mercer Place hillclimb away from the fairly level and suitably commercial corridor of Western/Elliott, through residential Queen Anne, increases air pollution, truck noise and statistical accident rate including fatalities. Mercer East has potential, but adding Mercer West will cancel any gains in managing traffic through the Mercer Mess.

    The only tunnel worth doing is the ‘stacked’ 6-lane Cut-cover/Seawall in the FEIS, which incidentally was kept from public consideration during the 2007 voter referendum. It is the least disruptive Cut-cover tunnel to construct because the AWV could remain in place, but Wsdot then was gambling voters would approve the elevated replacement monstrosity. The ramp now being constructed to position the bore machine lines up perfectly well with the stacked Cut-cover/Seawall. It’s not too late to stop Wsdot and their cohorts in SDOT from making a horrible horrible mistake.