Council bucking plan to study Eastlake streetcar
Some Seattle City Council members want to delay study of an Eastlake streetcar line until 2014, a year later than Mayor Mike McGinn has proposed.
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Mayor Mike McGinn's budget proposal for a $2 million streetcar planning study in the Eastlake corridor is running into resistance from the City Council.
The council previously endorsed an Eastlake line indirectly within the city's 2011 Transit Master Plan, and specifically in its 2008 map of a streetcar network.
But Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said Tuesday he's not convinced Eastlake rail is urgent, as the nearby University of Washington will get light-rail stations in 2016 and 2021.
An Eastlake study would include a look at bus-rapid transit, as well as so-called "rapid streetcar" that might have two-car trains and its own lanes.
Rasmussen supports an amendment, drafted Tuesday, to delay a two-year Eastlake study to 2014 and to shift $1 million next year to help buses citywide.
"I see crowded buses, hear the complaints of people on the bus rides," he said, recounting his own trip recently on a packed bus to Harborview Medical Center. He said delaying a study until 2014 wouldn't matter much, because it would take years to find money to build an Eastlake streetcar.
McGinn's spokesman, Aaron Pickus, said of the council: "They are delaying rail on Eastlake by a year."
Councilmembers can expect to hear from UW about its support for either high-capacity streetcar or bus, said Josh Kavanagh, UW transportation director. An Eastlake line would help people travel from UW directly to research hubs in South Lake Union, he said.
An Eastlake line is part of a broader transit expansion McGinn supports, including routes to Ballard-Fremont, and a downtown streetcar connector.
McGinn announced Tuesday that the city will receive $1.75 million in federal grants, to go with $1.25 million in city funds, to fully design a $25 million extension of the First Hill Streetcar, so it continues along Broadway a half-mile north of the future Capitol Hill light-rail station.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @mikelindblom.