Mayor Mike McGinn is expected to announce today that the planned half-mile north Broadway streetcar extension will receive $1.75 million in federal grants. When a planned $1.25 million in city funds are added, the $3 million total should be enough to fully design a potential $25 million track project.
This spur would connect to the First Hill Streetcar now under construction, from the 2016 Capitol Hill Station to the existing International District/Chinatown Station. The First Hill Streetcar opens in early 2014, with the north Broadway extension to arrive a couple years later. Both will have a 10-foot-wide bicycle lane separated from traffic, but streetcars will be slowed by running in the general traffic lanes.
The Puget Sound Regional Council (a consortium of local governments assigned to distribute federal funds) includes $850,000 for Broadway in its regional awards for 2013, and is expected to allocate another $900,000 from a federal congestion relief and air-quality program. The half-mile extension enjoys widespread support from Capitol Hill business and community groups.
Tuesday’s timing dovetails with the mayor’s 2013-14 budget requests to plan streetcar or other high-capacity transit corridors, which the City Council is considering this week. McGinn proposes $2 million for Eastlake; another $300,000 city funds plus $900,000 Federal Transit Administration funds to plan a downtown link between South Lake Union and First Hill streetcars; $500,000 to study a transit-bike-pedestrian bridge over the Ship Canal west of Fremont; another $800,000 city funds plus $2 million from Sound Transit to study Ballard-to-downtown options; and $850,000 to plan a bus rapid-transit line on Madison Street, which is considered too steep for rail.
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It’s unclear whether the Council will approve $2 million for Eastlake, but the other plans appeared to have solid Council support, as of Monday afternoon.