A streetcar named 'trouble' is causing pain in the Int'l District

SEATTLE - New streetcar construction is creating a sales nightmare for businesses in the International District as traffic tie-ups block customers' access to their shops.

At the New Saigon Deli, it is supposed to be the busiest time of year. But owner Hoa Thai says she's making fewer sandwiches these days.

"Some people, they order, then they cannot get in. And they call me to cancel," says Thai.

She says they're cancelling orders because of construction along the Jackson Street corridor in the International District.

It's all part of a two-year project to construct a $132 million streetcar line that will run from Pioneer Square through the International District to First Hill and then Capitol Hill, connecting two existing link light rail stations in those neighborhoods.

"Our expectation is that with an operating street car line connecting these neighborhoods it will help move people between (those communities) and at the same time provide an economic boost to this community as well," says Rick Sheridan of Seattle's Transportation Department.

But in the meantime, the street closures are causing short-term pain. Part of the intersection at 12th and Jackson streets was closed this weekend while crews continued utility work.

"With the traffic like this, it's even hard to find a parking spot. We had to circle around a couple times to come here," says International District visitor Liying Cui.

"They're seeing a lot of intense work - intense work that has short term impacts but ultimately will serve them well because they'll have this brand new utility infrastructure that will better support the (business district)," says Sheridan.

In the meantime, Hoa Thai is hoping the final project will outweigh the short-term hardship.

"I hope it's better, but I don't know. But right now it's very slow - we can not make money this year," she says.

The streetcar project is scheduled for completion at the beginning of next year.