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Issaquah - June 2004
   

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Issaquah, WA — Trolley Delay

Rail Transit Online, June 2004

Plans for a permanent, volunteer-operated heritage trolley line in the town of Issaquah, 17 mi. (27.3 km) east of Seattle, have run into financial troubles and the city council has now refused to put up any cash.  Lawmakers said the project needs more a detailed financial forecast and a current business plan.  The Issaquah Valley Trolley, a committee of the Issaquah Historical Society, envisions a 2.5-mi. (4 km) route running from East Sunset Way to the vicinity of Southeast 51st Street, where the Microsoft campus is located.  The tracks would share part of a rail trail, a situation which prompted King County Executive Ron Sims to rebuff a request for his help in obtaining a federal grant.  However, the city council indicated it might have more interest in the proposal if the line was shortened to a one-mile (1.6 km) segment between Sunset Way and Gilman Boulevard and if it would not compete against city projects for federal money.  The trolley committee has agreed to the truncated route and believes it could recondition the track bed, erect four stations, build a maintenance facility and refurbish two streetcars for $1.2 million.  A stripped down version — fixing the track and using just one car — could squeak by for $200,000.  If the initial operation is successful, trolley advocates hope to eventually win permission to complete the line.  The group has also promised to update its business plan but admits it got bogged down by the complexity of the federal grant process.  “It's been a huge learning experience for us because we didn't have anyone to lead us through this,” grant coordinator Barb Justice told The Seattle Times.  The historical society is seeking $200,000 from private sources through a fund raising campaign and up to $250,000 from Washington, the latter with help from Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Bellevue, who has put a request for cash in the federal budget.  The society operated a weekend-only service using a former Yakima single-truck Brill car for a year beginning in May 2001 and had hoped to have a permanent operation underway by last year (see RTOL, Oct. 2000, Nov. 2000 & May 2001). 


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