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Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk

The 2012 Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk will be held this Saturday, October 20th, from 7:30 through 11am at the Seattle Center.

Metro Routes 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 43, 47, 120, 125, & Sound Transit Routes ST 522, & ST 554 will be rerouted from 8am until 11am near north Downtown Seattle & the Seattle Center area due to street closures and traffic congestion.

Walk will start and finish at the Seattle Center. Portions of streets near the Seattle Center Campus, and 2nd Avenue through Belltown will be closed to vehicles as part of the walk route.

For more information, visit: http://kintera.org/faf/home/ccp.asp?ievent=1001672&ccp=102823

Funeral March for the Ride Free Area

Ride Free Area Ends

Ride Free Area Ends

This Friday, September 28th is the last day of free rides downtown. A funeral march will be held to commemorate and protest the elimination of the Ride Free Area.

3:00 pm: Rally at Westlake Park
3:30 pm: March down 3rd Avenue sidewalk to the County Courthouse
4:30 pm: Petition delivery and march back up 3rd Avenue

For more information, visit: http://transitriders.org/2012/09/11/funeral-march-for-the-ride-free-area/

Petition to Save the Ride Free Area: http://transitriders.org/rfa_petition/

Pioneer Square Lane Closures on Saturday

First Avenue South will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Saturday, June 2 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the Pioneer Square area. The Seattle Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry section will set up traffic control to allow volunteers to safely perform landscaping work in the street median. The lanes will be closed from Cherry Street to Railroad Way South.

City of Seattle and Sound Transit Break Ground on the First Hill Streetcar

Today the City of Seattle and Sound Transit, joined by community members from across the city, broke ground on Seattle’s newest streetcar line – the First Hill Streetcar. To be constructed by the City with funding provided by Sound Transit, the streetcar line will allow riders to easily travel between neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, First Hill, Yesler Terrace, the Central Area, the Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square, and better access Link Light rail service. The First Hill Streetcar will be operational by the spring of 2014, connecting thousands of riders daily with the places they live, work and socialize.

“Today’s groundbreaking is an important step in the recent momentum to expand rail in our city,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “Our updated Transit Master Plan shows that we need to do better to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with high quality transit. And we are doing just that with projects like the First Hill Streetcar and planning to connect our streetcars through Downtown. I thank Sound Transit and City staff for all of their work, and the public for their vision when they voted to approve the Sound Transit 2 measure that makes these projects possible.”

Mayor McGinn, who serves on the Sound Transit Board, was joined by fellow Board members, members of the Seattle City Council and local community leaders in kicking off the construction. The groundbreaking took place at the site of a future streetcar station that will serve Seattle University, Swedish Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center and the growing First Hill residential neighborhood. The stop will be one of 10 stations along a 2.5-mile route that will serve employment centers, educational institutions, entertainment and sports venues, and residential neighborhoods while enhancing access to regional rail service like Link Light rail and Sounder trains.

“The First Hill streetcar will be an important part of our regional transit system, connecting people who live and work throughout King County with outstanding institutions of healthcare and higher education,” said Sound Transit Board member and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This line will also provide the foundation for future growth at Yesler Terrace and south Broadway.”

The First Hill Streetcar will connect the current Link Light rail station in the Chinatown/International District with the future rail station on Capitol Hill. The line is being built by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) in partnership with Sound Transit. Sound Transit had initially planned an underground light rail stop on First Hill but abandoned the idea because of costs and risks associated with a deep station.

“From the moment we concluded building a deep-mined light rail station on First Hill was too risky, I strongly advocated for this streetcar line as a way to provide vital access to and from a regional light rail system that will stretch more than 50 miles by 2023,” said Sound Transit Board member and King County Council member Larry Phillips. “We made the First Hill Streetcar a top priority in shaping the Sound Transit 2 Plan, and today I couldn’t be more thrilled that we are about to watch our dream become a reality.”

The line will be constructed by Stacy and Witbeck, the firm that previously built the City’s South Lake Union line, and is estimated to cost $132.8 million.

“Many residents and business owners along the streetcar line, from Pioneer Square to Broadway, have told me that they are eager for operations to begin,” stated Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “The streetcar is intended to improve transportation and to attract people to visit and shop in our neighborhood business districts.”

Once operational, approximately 3,000 riders each day are expected to use the First Hill line. It will provide service from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays/holidays, running with 10-minute headways during peak/daytime hours. A trip from Pioneer Square to the future Link Light rail station on Capitol Hill is anticipated to take just under 20 minutes.

“For 101 years now, Swedish has recognized the importance of accessible transportation options for our employees, patients and their health,” said Dan Dixon, Vice President of External Affairs, Swedish Health Services. “The First Hill Streetcar is a brilliant continuance of creative transportation for our city. Elegant, quiet, environmentally friendly – we believe that all of us on First Hill will benefit for a generation from this mass-transit addition to our neighborhood.”

The line’s six streetcar vehicles will be made through a partnership between Inekon, a Czech Republic firm, and Pacifica, a Seattle-based manufacturing firm. With Pacifica assembling the vehicles locally, this partnership will provide approximately 20 living-wage manufacturing jobs in Seattle for this project. It also creates the opportunity for streetcar assembly in Seattle for other agencies nationwide, which could provide additional local jobs.

A facility for storing, cleaning and maintaining First Hill Streetcar vehicles will be located at the City of Seattle’s Charles Street yard at Seventh Avenue S and S Charles Street. The facility will serve as the center for First Hill streetcar operations with reporting, dispatch, streetcar maintenance, system maintenance and administration. Construction of the facility will begin in May 2012.

For more information about the First Hill Streetcar, visit the project website at http://www.seattlestreetcar.org.

High Capacity Transit from Ballard to Downtown

Seattle’s elected leaders welcomed the Sound Transit board’s vote today approving an amendment to their 2012 budget to include $2 million to study of high-capacity transit from Ballard to downtown. Funding to study this corridor was included in the Sound Transit 2 package approved by voters in 2008. This agreement would accelerate that work by several years.

Sound Transit and the city of Seattle will work early next year to craft an inter-local agreement before the planning work begins using these funds.

This planning money, along with a $900,000 federal grant awarded to Seattle in October and City matching funds, will allow the City and Sound Transit to conduct a detailed analysis of alignments and technologies to meet the longer-term demand for transit between some of Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhoods and downtown.

“This is an important step forward for expanding high capacity transit in Seattle that makes sense for our regional network. We thank the Sound Transit Board and staff for supporting efforts to accelerate planning for the Ballard-Downtown Corridor by several years,” said Mayor Mike McGinn, a Sound Transit Board Member. “With this vote behind us, we can get to work developing an inter-local agreement between Sound Transit and the city of Seattle that will ensure our joint planning effort meets both the city’s and the region’s high-capacity transit needs.”

“This is a great opportunity to collaborate with Sound Transit on our common goal to expand regional transit service,” said Council President and Sound Transit Board Member Richard Conlin. “In this era of shrinking budgets, pooling our resources and expertise is a smarter and more efficient way of delivering on that vision.”

“As we look toward to the future and efforts to connect light rail to Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond, we can begin considering how to connect the substantial and growing transit market in Ballard and northwest Seattle to our regional transit system,” said King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board Member Larry Phillips. “This work lets eager transit riders in Seattle know we’re planning for their future, while assuring our regional partners that we’re committed to building out the light rail spine through the three-county region.”

The Downtown to Ballard corridor was highlighted in both the Seattle Streetcar Study in 2008 and the Sound Transit Long Range Plan in 2005. The corridor also ranked highly in the City’s recently completed Transit Master Plan, which indicated rail could carry as many as 26,000 riders in 2030.

Parking During Thanksgiving

The following is a redistribution from the Seattle Department of Transportation

On-street parking is free on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, but drivers must pay for parking on Friday, November 25, and observe time limits and other posted regulations as on any other Friday. Paid on-street parking ensures that drivers limit the time they occupy parking spaces, making these spaces available to more customers. Access to commercial areas is particularly important on the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The City wants to ensure that as many people as possible are able to find on-street parking near their destinations.

In addition, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Washington State Department of Transportation, downtown parking operators and others are providing a parking program called Your Spot is Here during replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and seawall. The goal is to help local businesses by encouraging shoppers to visit Pioneer Square and the downtown waterfront. On the Your Spot is Here Web site the public can find discounts, coupons and promotions from businesses and merchants, a list of special events, and the location of affordable parking in the Pioneer Square and waterfront areas. Downtown visitors may also refer to the EPark Web site and may follow E-Park signs to find off-street parking.

Downtown shoppers are also encouraged to park at the City of Seattle’s Pacific Place Garage where the first hour of parking is $3 and where evening rates are capped at $6 after 5 p.m.

First Hill Streetcars

Mayor Mike McGinn and Council President Richard Conlin, joined by labor and business representatives, today announced Inekon-Pacifica as the winning bidder to build six First Hill Streetcar vehicles. Inekon, based in the Czech Republic, is partnered with Pacifica, a Seattle-based manufacturer. The announcement, made at the Seattle Streetcar Maintenance Yard, highlighted investments in high capacity transit that are bringing, living wage manufacturing jobs to Seattle. The partnership will bring streetcar manufacturing jobs to Seattle and compete for other streetcar contracts around the country.

“This investment in improved transit will produce family wage jobs and send money back into our local economy,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “An expanded rail network will also support economic development in our neighborhoods and give people affordable transportation choices. I congratulate Inekon-Pacifica on winning the bid to construct the vehicles and thank our Office of Economic Development, Transportation Department, Finance and Administrative Services and my staff for helping making today’s announcement possible.”

The City of Seattle is developing the First Hill Streetcar with funding from Sound Transit under an interlocal agreement that was established following the 2008 passage of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The project will link First Hill to the regional Link light rail system via connections on Capitol Hill and in the International District.

“Bringing this work home to Seattle is a big boost to our economy,” said Council President Richard Conlin, Chair of the Regional Development and Sustainability committee. “This is great synergy! It advances our goals of getting more people to work by transit and putting more people to work in Seattle’s high-wage manufacturing sector.”

Today’s announcement was also a significant step in building capacity for a new industry in Seattle. Inekon and Pacifica will be bidding on other streetcar projects around the country, and the city of Seattle’s contract for the First Hill Streetcar vehicles includes purchase options that can be used on expansions of the Seattle system, or transferred to other transit agencies that may need additional streetcar vehicles. An estimated 20 new high-wage union manufacturing jobs will result from this contract, with Pacifica’s facility scaling with other future successful bids. Streetcar maintenance will also be performed by Pacifica employees – guaranteeing long-term employment.

Ing. Josef Husek, Director General of Inekon Group expressed his gratitude to the city of Seattle and the Seattle Department of Transportation. Ing. Husek said, “We are proud to work with you again and look forward to delivering our streetcars to the City of Seattle.” Ing. Husek also expressed his pride in partnering with local company Pacifica Marine for this contract. Bill Patz, Chief Executive Officer of Pacifica Marine, said, “Pacifica is thrilled to be entering this manufacturing agreement to provide Inekon’s outstanding streetcars to Seattle today and to other U.S. cities in the future.”

The six First Hill Streetcar vehicles will be manufactured in the Czech Republic. They will then be assembled, painted, tested, and maintained in Seattle.

The announcement follows recent developments to expand Seattle’s streetcar network. Mayor Mike McGinn announced last week that the Federal Transit Administration awarded Seattle a $900,000 grant to study a high capacity transit project, such as a rapid streetcar, through the heart of downtown Seattle. 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 mayor’s Proposed 2012 Budget also includes $1.5 million for further high capacity transit planning in line with the priorities of the City’s updated Transit Master Plan. That proposal is currently under consideration by the City Council.

Background

Pacifica is a specialty fabrication and refurbishment company in the mass transportation vehicle industry. The International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers started Pacifica to bring family wage jobs to its members in the State of Washington. The company is structured around the Association’s High Performance Work Organization program which is designed to have employees involved in the operation of the company from the top down. This company is unique because of its goal is to create family wage jobs for its workers, not profits for the corporation. All of the profits from this company will be used to start other projects to benefit workers and their families.

The Inekon Group, of the Czech Republic, was established in 1990 as a private company focused on the export of rail vehicles and import of raw materials for the chemical industry. It has since developed into a commercial and production holding company focused on three areas: rail vehicles and railway tracks; chemical products and waste water treatment; and the export of investment units. The Inekon Group has a design studio for rail vehicles and a production site in Ostrava. Inekon also offers repairs and modernization for rail vehicles, and construction and renovations of railway track superstructures. The company was the provider of streetcars for the South Lake Union line of the Seattle Streetcar System.

Federal Grant for Downtown Streetcar Project

Seattle Streetcar

Seattle Streetcar

The Federal Transit Administration today announced the City of Seattle has won a $900,000 grant to study a high capacity transit project, such as a rapid streetcar, through the heart of downtown Seattle. The project would connect existing and proposed high-density neighborhoods to one another and the regional transit system. 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 federal government took a close look at our proposal and believes the project is a good investment in moving people quickly and reliably through downtown and to our neighborhoods,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Combined with rail planning money I have proposed in the 2012 budget and funding from other sources, this brings us closer to expanding our streetcar network and giving people better transportation choices.”

“I’m pleased that Seattle has been selected to receive this grant to help the city plan responsibly for its future high-capacity transit needs,” said Congressman Jim McDermott. “This will put Seattle in a better position to compete for transit dollars, and the family-wage construction jobs that will come with them when Congress passes the American Jobs Act. I take great pride in being able to support continued investment in critically needed projects like these that plan, maintain and improve our city’s transportation systems.”

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.

Mayor McGinn’s 2012 proposed budget also invests $1.5 million to start planning to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with high capacity transit, including rail. The federal grant would augment this funding and help move plans for the downtown connector closer to completion.

Alaskan Viaduct Closed From Oct. 21st through Oct. 31st

Beginning at 7:30pm Friday, Oct. 21st, crews will close the majority of the Alaskan Way Viaduct until 5am Monday, Oct. 31st. The closure is needed to start demolition of the structure’s southern mile in SoDo.

For further information and recommended routes available, visit:

http://wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR99/HolgateToKing/ViaductNineDayClosure.htm#KeepTrafficMoving

Improvements at 3rd and Pine Bus Stop

Wait times for buses serving the northbound stop at Third Avenue and Pine Street are now available to bus riders via a large T.V. screen located in the northwest window of Macy’s. Installed by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the T.V. means passengers no longer need a smart phone to access “OneBusAway” real time bus arrival information. The improvement is just one of many coming to this popular stop where over 2,500 passengers get on and off buses every weekday. This first feature was installed early as an added amenity that shoppers and others will find particularly useful during the upcoming holiday season.

Next year, SDOT and King County Metro Transit (Metro) will extend the bus stop north, past Macy’s loading docks, making room for the increasing number of buses serving this stop in the future. The sidewalk will also be widened by six and a half feet creating more room for pedestrians and passengers and new lighting, trees and railings will be installed. Delivery trucks will continue to have easy access to Macy’s loading dock. Loading dock access is restricted during peak travel times.

“OneBusAway” was developed by UW Computer Science and Civil Engineering graduate students and is now being maintained by Metro.

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