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City of Seattle

September 6, 3:46 PM click here to comment > 0

Mayor announces planning work moving ahead on Downtown Connector

Today Mayor McGinn announced that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has selected Nelson\Nygaard to move forward with planning work on the City Center Connector, a high-performance high-capacity transit corridor identified in Seattle’s Transit Master Plan recently adopted by the City Council.

“We are excited to soon have Nelson\Nygaard and their team on board, including the engineering firms URS and CH2M Hill, bringing their combined planning and design engineering experience from past successes like the Seattle Transit Master Plan and both the South Lake Union and First Hill streetcars,” said McGinn. “I look forward to the work ahead.”

SDOT will now begin contract negotiations with Nelson\Nygaard with the goal of having them at work on the City Center Connector within a few weeks.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen who chairs the City Council Transportation Committee expressed his support, “I am eager to have the study begin,” he said. “This is an important next step to enhance transit service and to develop a streetcar line connecting Seattle’s major center city neighborhoods.”

“This is a tremendously important step toward realizing a network of high-capacity transit connecting downtown Seattle with Capitol Hill and South Lake Union,” said Pike Place Market PDA Executive Director Ben Franz-Knight. “With the success of the South Lake Union Streetcar and the construction of the First Hill Streetcar the City Center Connector has the potential to greatly enhance mobility for residents, workers and visitors among neighborhoods and destinations throughout the city.”

Today’s announcement follows recent milestones in the work to expand Seattle’s high-capacity transit network, focusing on improving neighborhood to neighborhood connections. The City Council this summer removed a funding restriction on monies that will be used to collaborate with Sound Transit on a study of the Ballard to downtown corridor.

The new Transit Master Plan, first proposed by the Mayor in May 2010 and passed by the City Council in April of this year, uses a data-driven analysis to guide city investments in transit, including high-capacity transit to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods. The planning work for the City Center Connector is funded by a $900,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration to study high capacity transit options, such as a rapid streetcar, through the heart of downtown Seattle, which would connect the existing South Lake Union Streetcar with the First Hill Streetcar now under construction and scheduled to be completed in early 2014. The federal grant is matched by $300,000 in SDOT funds, bringing the total to $1.2 million. The current Seattle Transit Master Plan shows that a rail system on this corridor could generate approximately 10,000 new transit riders in Seattle Center City by 2030.

The City and Nelson\Nygaard plan to begin public outreach in October, a process of stakeholder involvement that will continue over the 12-18 month life of the project. A final draft plan for the best transit technology and street pathway through the Center City will be completed by the end of 2013.

Posted by: April Thomas