Seattle, Sound Transit execute agreement for expedited streetcar construction
The City of Seattle and Sound Transit are moving forward with plans to build a new streetcar line linking the city's First Hill neighborhood with Capitol Hill and the International District.
The city and Sound Transit have executed an agreement that includes an expedited construction timeline - the line is anticipated to open in 2013 instead of the 2016 completion that was earlier planned. The City of Seattle will build and operate the new line, which voters approved as part of the 2008 Sound Transit 2 ballot measure.
"This line will be the first two of 36 new miles of rail coming to our region," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who today added his signature to the agreement following recent approvals by the Sound Transit Board and Seattle City Council.
The First Hill Streetcar will serve major Seattle work centers, including Swedish Hospital, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College. The line will provide easy access to the Link light rail system that opened this summer and the Capitol Hill light rail station when University Link opens in 2016.
"First Hill is home to more than 22,000 jobs and the streetcar will be a great new option for the people who live and work here," said First Hill Improvement Association Vice President Jim Erickson. "We look forward to working with the City and Sound Transit to meet the transportation needs of First Hill."
Sound Transit will cover the project's costs up to $132 million, and the city will take the lead on design, property acquisition and construction of the two-mile line connecting downtown Seattle, First Hill and the Capitol Hill light rail station. Sound Transit will cover operating costs when the line begins service.
The First Hill line will be the second modern streetcar line in Seattle following the South Lake Union Streetcar line which opened in December, 2008.
The City plans to begin construction in 2012. The final route will be determined as part of the environmental review process over the next two years. The Sound Transit Board included the streetcar line in the ST 2 expansion package after determining that a previously-planned light rail station at Madison Street and Summit Avenue on First Hill would be too costly.
With the passage of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in November 2008, light rail is targeted to reach all the way to Lynnwood, Redmond's Overlake area and the Star Lake/Redondo area near Federal Way by 2023.
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