SEATTLE, WA - What's worse: spending way more on the 1st Avenue streetcar, or forcing future generations of Seattleites to suffer in traffic? Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released an independent report on the project Friday afternoon, and it contains both good and bad news.
The bad news: The project would cost about $252 million, which is about $100 million more than originally projected. The 1.2-mile 1st Avenue line would connect Seattle's two other streetcar lines, creating a single route from Capitol Hill to South Lake Union.
More bad news: if Durkan kills the streetcar, the city would still have to pay out about $55 million just to close down the project.
The report, written by KPMG, also projects good ridership numbers. If the project goes ahead as currently planned, a high of about 7 million people might use the line each year. That many people using the line could alleviate traffic in the downtown area. If the project doesn't move forward, ridership for the two streetcar lines would be about 1.8 million. By comparison, about 23 million people rode Sound Transit light rail in 2017.
Durkan has halted work on the streetcar project for now, but no final decisions have been made about canceling it or continuing on.
"No final decision will be made by Mayor Durkan on the project until costs, feasibility, litigation risks, and community impacts are understood. In the coming weeks, Mayor Durkan will continue to seek public and stakeholder input on the opportunities and challenges moving forward and evaluate budget options moving forward," the mayor's office wrote in a bulletin about the KPMG report.
Here's the full report:
Image via SDOT