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Seattle Wins Federal Grant to Study a High Capacity Transit Project

This is great news for our region. On October 17, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded the City of Seattle a $900,000 grant for “Seattle Center City Connector Transit Alternatives Analysis”. This grant will be used to study a high capacity transit project, such as a rapid streetcar, through downtown Seattle and will support Mayor McGinn’s plan to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with high capacity transit. Existing and proposed high-density neighborhoods would be connected to one another and the regional transit system under this project. 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 study will examine the benefits, costs, and impacts of implementing an urban circulator in the corridor between the Lower Queen Anne, Uptown, and South Lake Union neighborhoods to the north, and the King Street Station and International District Multimodal Hub on the south end of downtown. The selected alignment will have the potential to connect all three of Seattle’s multimodal transportation hubs, King Street and International District Stations, Colman Dock, and Westlake Center.

The federal funding will be applied to the Mayor’s 2012 proposed budget which includes $1.5 million to start planning to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with high capacity transit.

In related news…  the First Hill Streetcar vehicles will be built in Seattle!

14th Ave & S. Washington Street

On October 26, Mayor McGinn announced that Inekon-Pacifica is the winning bidder to build six vehicles for the First Hill Streetcar. The project is now in final design.

Inekon Group is based in the Czech Republic and partnered with Pacifica Marine Inc, a Seattle-based manufacturer. The vehicles will be manufactured in the Czech Republic, and will then be assembled, painted, tested, and maintained in Seattle. An estimated 20 new union manufacturing jobs will be created as a result of this contract. Inekon built the South Lake Union Streetcars and Pacifica has worked on trains for Amtrak Cascades, the monorail and streetcars.

The Inekon-Pacifica partnership was chosen as the best value of three bidders on a contract worth $20 million to $30 million. They will bring high quality, living wage manufacturing jobs to Seattle and the opportunity to compete for other streetcar projects around the country.