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Seattle - April 2008

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Seattle — Waterfront Streetcar in Jeopardy

Rail Transit Online, April 2008

The 1.6-mi. (2.6 km) Waterfront Streetcar may never return to service, according to Metro Transit officials. And if it is revived, service probably won't resume for a decade or more.

The vintage trolley line was shut down in November 2005 after the site of its maintenance base was appropriated for a museum extension. A developer then proposed incorporating a carbarn into a new building he was planning in Pioneer Square, in return for an exemption from the city's height-limitation ordinance.

The variance was granted but so far the project, which was to have been completed last summer, has not moved forward. In early April, Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond sent a letter to the developer saying continued postponements are unacceptable.

Even if the building was completed in 2010, said Desmond, the trolley would have to close again in 2012 during six years of construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct; the tracks run in the shadow of the elevated highway for much of their length. "Given our own timelines and commitments, the county must begin looking for alternative sites," Desmond's letter said.

King County has committed $7 million to help pay for the carbarn while the city and the Port of Seattle have set aside $1 million each. This funding will presumably remain on the table should a new location for the streetcar maintenance facility become available.


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