Wednesday, April 25, 2012

City of Seattle and Sound Transit begin construction of First Hill Streetcar line

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The city of Seattle, Wash., and Sound Transit broke ground on Seattle's newest streetcar line, the First Hill Streetcar.

To be constructed by the city with funding provided by Sound Transit, the streetcar line will allow riders to travel between neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, the Central Area, the Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square and grant better access to Link light-rail service. The First Hill Streetcar will be operational by the spring of 2014, connecting thousands of riders daily with the places they live, work and socialize.

"Today's groundbreaking is an important step in the recent momentum to expand rail in our city," said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "Our updated Transit Master Plan shows that we need to do better to connect Seattle's neighborhoods with high-quality transit."

The groundbreaking took place at the site of a future streetcar station that will serve Seattle University, Swedish Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center and the growing First Hill residential neighborhood. The stop will be one of 10 stations along a 2.5-mile route that will serve employment centers, educational institutions, entertainment and sports venues and residential neighborhoods, while enhancing access to regional rail service like Link light rail and Sounder trains.

The First Hill Streetcar will connect the current Link light-rail station in the Chinatown/International District with the future rail station on Capitol Hill. The line is being built by the Seattle Department of Transportation, in partnership with Sound Transit. Sound Transit had initially planned an underground light-rail stop on First Hill but abandoned the idea because of costs and risks associated with a deep station.

The line will be constructed by Stacy and Witbeck, the firm that previously built the city's South Lake Union line and is estimated to cost $132.8 million. Once operational, approximately 3,000 riders each day are expected to use the First Hill line.

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