Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Seattle First Hill streetcar construction set

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The Seattle City Council Monday approved a $68 million contract to Stacy & Witbeck to oversee the First Hill streetcar project, expected to begin construction next month.

The streetcar line will from Pioneer Square to the International District/Chinatown Station, then past Seattle University and First Hill hospitals, ending at Sound Transit's Capitol Hill light rail transit station on Broadway, currently under construction.

Seattle will manage design and construction, while Sound Transit funds nearly all the $134 million cost of the project. Streetcar service is scheduled to begin in 2014, somewhat later than the original target date of late 2013.

The streetcars will be assembled by Seattle-based Pacifica Marine, which describes itself as "a specialty fabrication and refurbishment company" that has done some rail work, including on Amtrak's Talgo fleet serving the Pacific Northwest. The streetcars will include onboard batteries for operational flexibility. The streetcars are designed by Ostrava, Czech Republic-based Inekon.

Seattle is pursuing a $2 million federal grant to plan a streetcar extension beyond Capitol Hill Station, continuing north to Roy Street and a major commercial district.