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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Waterfront Trolley Dead

posted by on April 10 at 20:17 PM

Developer Greg Smith’s plan to build a combo trolley maintenance barn/condo/commerical development in Occidental Park (off Pioneer Square) is dead, Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis told me. The 130-foot-tall building was intended to serve a rebuild of the ID to Waterfront-Trolley.

Cies told me tonight that the waterfront trolley idea “no longer fit into the city’s transportation plan.”

He also cited the fact that plans to revamp the viaduct had thrown the waterfront trolley plans into limbo. Also: too expensive.

“It’s not in our plans, and we’re moving ahead,” Ceis says, saying the new priorities were servicing the transportation grid around the viaduct and around light rail through Capitol Hill.

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This doesn't really bode well for the city's cross-city trolley ideas.

Posted by Ryan on Summit | April 10, 2008 8:34 PM

130 sq ft? That's a tiny little trolley barn!

Posted by Andrew | April 10, 2008 8:39 PM

How does the waterfront trolley not service the viaduct corridor? The whole thing is kind of a fuck-you to ferry riders who took this thing a lot.

Posted by Andrew | April 10, 2008 8:41 PM

....Who must also be wondering on whose authority the thing was shut down in the first place, for the frickin' Sculpture Park.

Anyone got figures on how much the Waterfront Trolley cost the city all told? For nothing? Hell of a way to run things. Not that I ever gave a crap about the thing, but jeez.

We're up to FOUR bullshit "transit systems" -- original monorail, bus tunnel, waterfront trolley, SLUT -- versus zero functioning real transit systems. It's like a parody or something.

Posted by Fnarf | April 10, 2008 8:53 PM

I think he probably means 130k or something like that - the project required an exemption from the height limits in the Pioneer Square Historic District, and was going to fill the parking lot across from Occidental Park.

I wasn't the biggest fan of the George Benson Waterfront Trolley in terms of utility for locals, but it was quaint if nothing else, and was the likely starter for a line further past the ID should that ever occur. And lest we forget, our City and County politicos did actually promise to bring it back after the original trolley barn was torn down to make way for the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Promises, um, promises?

Posted by Mr. X | April 10, 2008 8:55 PM

I think the most interesting news here is that the City of Seattle has a transportation plan!

Posted by oZ | April 10, 2008 9:13 PM

Oh well. But let's not get all exercised and actually vote anyone out of office or anything; that woudn't be nice.

Posted by unPC | April 10, 2008 9:31 PM

loved it used it all the time - local guy, could park in the ID, then do the waterfront to Mrytle Edwards on the trolley. Always took friends and visiting family.

tourist draw, kids loved it, it is like tearing everything apart in the downtown and nothing left that is familiar.

only a total fool, ie. staff at the mayors offices, could ever thought of the trolley as part of a grandiose many, many billions transportation plan.

Too small - you bet - throw it out. Lots of payoffs in the 7 billion sound Transit stuff - cash galore going to a very few companies and consultants ....hum?

Posted by John | April 10, 2008 9:34 PM

the trolleys are stored somewhere - city hall is a fools haven

It is a logical feeder to the sculpture part as well and ALL the water front stuff - oh hell, who cares about all that access - all those venues that create jobs and revenue and fun - just kids, families and tourists, shit, who needs them happy?

trolley folly - use it as a headline

Posted by Amy | April 10, 2008 9:41 PM

They never intended to bring it back. I'm sure they've spent nothing on "repairing" the trolley the past two years. Build a new one from scratch, get rid of one that's already built. That's what we do here.

Posted by D. | April 10, 2008 9:49 PM

Seems weird to have a streetcar and a trolley, but to not have them connected. And to build separate maintenance barns for both.

Ignoring, ofcourse, that the waterfront is going to be torn up for several years...

Posted by Will/HA | April 10, 2008 9:53 PM

Speaking of "priorities", I wonder which streetcar/trolley was part and parcel of Paul Allen's development plans and which one might have actually helped mitigate work on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Someone help me out here...

Posted by Mr. X | April 10, 2008 10:13 PM

The streetcar tracks have been paved over in some locations for a while now.

Too bad they didn't tear up the ones still sitting on Main St. Have to cross those bitches every day on my way to/from Bikestation.

Ethan Melone is a tool of Nickels. We need him fired.

Posted by Anon | April 10, 2008 10:36 PM

Here I am fucking up the Waterfront streetcar in 2001:

And here I am fucking up the Monorail:

Posted by Ethan Melone | April 10, 2008 10:40 PM

Have you guys seen the cover of The Thomas Guide 2008 Seattle & King County: Street Guide?

You'll never guess what's on the cover in pristine condition.

Mmmmm hum.

Posted by Uncle Amazon | April 10, 2008 10:57 PM

Before it was shut down, I never rode the Streetcar a single time. I never needed to. Why? The Waterfront is walking distance away!

The city fails for wasting money on transit ideas that service few people at best and are little more than quaint novelties.

Posted by Gomez | April 10, 2008 11:04 PM

well. ok. i just died a little inside but ok.

lets hope this money goes towards a line that is better integrated with a new system!

Posted by Cale | April 11, 2008 12:24 AM

I KNEW IT! I knew they were lying when they said it was just temporary. (Which they did. I was paying attention.)

When it shut down, I assured my 3-year-old son, who was devastated, that they promised it would be back. He still asks me when that's going to happen. Now I get to tell him they were lying. Just like I knew they were. Assholes.

Aah, those trolleys weren't too useful, but they added something. World-class city, my ass.

Posted by sara | April 11, 2008 12:24 AM

So, when do I get to NOT vote for Ceis next?

Posted by Simac | April 11, 2008 6:55 AM

Little late on the trigger Josh: The waterfront streetcar has been dead for some time - at least since 2006, when the P-I reported:

"It looks like the waterfront streetcar line, which seemed to be saved last year when city and county leaders announced a new location for the displaced maintenance facility, has hit another bump and could be in serious jeopardy.

Developer Greg Smith said Wednesday that "as currently planned" he won't be able to complete a $50-million development project in Pioneer Square that would have included housing, retail, and a maintenance barn for the waterfront trolley..."

Posted by P-I Reader | April 11, 2008 7:23 AM

That (D) that shows up after Hizzoner's name and his gaggle of goons must surely stand for Dumb.

Posted by Spoogie | April 11, 2008 7:53 AM

I agree with the above: SEATTLE HAS A TRANSPORTATION PLAN??!!??

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 11, 2008 7:58 AM

we lose the trolley but get slut? not cool.

at least they could have saved a bunch of money and just moved the trolleys over to south lake union.

Posted by infrequent | April 11, 2008 8:11 AM

@23, they could have saved money by just putting busses on the route that the SLUT takes.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 11, 2008 8:18 AM

hey, i'm with you there. i'm just left dumbfounded by how much we spent on our non-transit transit systems. at least the trolley didn't pretend to be as useful as the slut does.

Posted by infrequent | April 11, 2008 8:33 AM

@25, and to keep going: the SLUT is nearly empty all the time I see it and I work downtown: it is empty in the morning and only partially full in the evenings and at lunch time.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 11, 2008 8:52 AM

Um, this isn't "breaking news," Josh. It's been out there for quite a while. You need to go back and recategorize this hot tidbit under "breaking wind"

Posted by Who's Rat Barked? | April 11, 2008 9:34 AM

well, at least we got a piece of shit useless trash heap of a sculpture park out of the deal.

at least capitol hill and first hill will get to join in on the carnival of futility when they get their own useless amputated leg of the outwalkable trolley system.

Posted by kinkos | April 11, 2008 9:44 AM

I'm disappointed. I thought this was going to be a poignant piece about a colorful waterfront TROLLOP that had recently died.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 11, 2008 10:08 AM

The only thing this city can do is kill mass-transit. We never can actually get one going.
Fucking lame.

Posted by poster Girl | April 11, 2008 10:09 AM

@ 27. Where did you read about it first? Are you a reporter?

Posted by Tim | April 11, 2008 10:12 AM

"The trolley is dead!"

"You bastards!"

Posted by Mike of Renton | April 11, 2008 10:42 AM

the elected officials at both the county and the city did not stand up to the big money behind SAM, both new and old money, and ask them to fold the George Benson waterfront streetcar maintenance facility into the sculpture park. Imagine a glass-walled maintenance barn (the Smith plan had a restaurant looking into the maintenance area). But all verbally supported the waterfront trolley.

With some funding, perhaps the Melbourne cars could be operated between Woodinville and Redmond via the wineries and Willows Road. Could an LID help fund the capital cost; it would help the two downtowns and the wineries. It is a right-of-way of opportunity.

Posted by eddiew | April 11, 2008 11:11 AM

I didn't realize this had been decided...but here it is in the ST trolley article:
"Construction to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled to begin in 2012"

There goes another Stranger campaign issue down the drain.

Posted by Cato | April 11, 2008 11:13 AM

This is good news. The highrise planned for the trolley barn would have cast a huge shadow on Occidental Park - keeping it dark for most of the day. So why don't they use the old fire station for the trolley barn? It's right across the street and will be empty in a few weeks.

Posted by crazycatguy | April 11, 2008 11:14 AM

Easy solution: Bulldoze the Sculpture Park.

Nobody will miss it, other than the MSM.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 11:56 AM

Don't forget... The Waterfront Streetcar was the only thing at Metro that ever made a profit.

Posted by sw | April 11, 2008 1:25 PM

No, a number of our bus lines make a profit. It's just the bus lines in the suburbs that make us run at a loss.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 2:22 PM

@35: not really. it would cast a shadow in the morning, but in the winter, the buildings to the south block the sun all day long. besides, that's what happens in a city - buildings adjoin open space.

i cannot believe you're making an argument that an empty lot is an asset to a dismal, crackhead-ridden failure of an urban park. should we tear down the buildings to the west because they block the afternoon sun?

redevelopment of that lot is essential to creating a thriving urban park. and re-opening occidental to vehicle traffic. both blocks from jackson north. fuck the art walk. close the street 1 night/month if it's so great.

Posted by max solomon | April 11, 2008 2:49 PM

Why don't we just relocate the Sculpture Park to West Seattle?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 4:02 PM

I used to be a motorman on the streetcar, and knew George Benson. He would get in his lincoln, and come down to the barn to clean the trolleys. He always brought Winchellís donuts for everyone. That streetcar was, as far as I knew, his proudest achievement as a Seattle City Councilman.

After his wife died, he would take my #5 to downtown from the Ida Culver House once a month so he could talk to me. Why was he going downtown for lunch, you ask?

He had a monthly lunch with one of his former protegeís: Greg Nickels. Now Nickels has destroyed Bensonís legacy. That is how the mayor rolls. I wonder how many times Nickels promised Bensen that he would make sure the Waterfront Streetcar would be put back in service someday, or how many times he assured that old man that he had his back on the Streetcar.

I will also say this, as sure as anything I know. The Waterfront Streetcar was an tourism power house in the summer, generating big time tourism bucks along the waterfront and Pioneer Square. Those Streetcars were packed all summer long.

Anybody want to bet who would have more ridership..the streetcar, or the SLUT? I would be happy to take your money, because the Streetcar WAS SELF SUPPORTING! THAT IS RIGHT!!! IT MADE MONEY!!!

This town is lucky it has natural beauty, because otherwise it would have less personality than Cleveland.

Posted by busdrivermike | April 11, 2008 4:49 PM

Will, could you define profit? I would love to see your accounting of profit on any Metro bus line. Metro says it costs at least $75 an hour just to operate a bus, not counting the cost of the bus to maintain it, or pay for the bus itself, or the huge overhead King County charges Metro in order to steal the transportation tax base.
Did I mention those buses get 2 miles to a gallon? That is another 20 to 30 bucks an hour. Get a grip Will, you have no concept of the cost of operating a transit system.

As Lincoln said, it is better to keep your mouth shut, and have people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and leave no doubt.

Posted by busdrivermike | April 11, 2008 4:58 PM

Gotta say, I spent 27 years in Seattle, and busdrivermike hit the nail on the head. The arty crowd has really showed what they're made of in this case.

Posted by serial catowner | April 12, 2008 5:37 PM

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