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.