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Heritage Trolley Site
Hosted by the Seashore Trolley Museum
Seattle - June 2012

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Seattle — Waterfront Streetcars at End of Line

June 2012

The five historic streetcars that once served Seattle's Waterfront Streetcar line have been locked into a warehouse since being taken out of service in 2005, and there is a real chance their days in Seattle may be numbered, as the city's transportation planning is focused on modern streetcar lines.

The 1920s-era cars from Melbourne, which ran for 23 years on the George Benson Waterfront line and are painted green and cream with varnished wood interiors, seem to be out of step with transportation plans in Seattle. The maintenance facility for the streetcar line was torn down without replacement to clear space for the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park. This resulted in discontinuance of the streetcar in 2005.

The line was built largely through the efforts of George Benson, who served five terms on the Seattle City Council but who passed away in 2004. Lacking his advocacy, the reinstatement of the line is questionable, especially with the upcoming relocation of the Alaskan Way highway viaduct overhead much of the streetcar's route.

According to the Seattle Times, the architect planning the redevelopment of the waterfront area proposed relocating the streetcar line to First Avenue, away from the Alaskan Way. However, since then the city has said the redeveloped waterfront could include space for the streetcars. In either case the line would not be running before 2019.

Meanwhile, representatives of other citiesmost notably St. Louis—have expressed interest in purchasing the cars, which could force the hand of Seattle leaders to decide definitively whether to plan for the streetcar line's reinstatement or to abandon the concept permanently.


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