Seattle Mayor’s budget proposal doesn't include controversial streetcar connector line

Photo: KOMO News

SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan did not designate any new taxpayer dollars to the Streetcar Center City Connector Line in her 2019-2020 budget proposal. She announced her 5.9 billion budget proposal on Monday.

Currently, there are two isolated lines in the South Lake Union and Pioneer Square districts.

“Once this is connected, it will start to be used to its fullest," said Mike McQuaid, transportation chair of the South Lake Union Community Council. "Right now it’s not."

The connector line would create one seamless line through the downtown core.

In 2017, crews broke ground on the connector line, but Mayor Durkan halted construction in March after consultants found the project is $55 million over budget.

“We now know we don’t have enough money to deliver what was promised,” said Durkan in an August press conference. “It’s going to cost tens of millions of dollars more to build this than people thought, and it’s going to cost a significant amount to operate it.”

An independent consultant report also challenged if the new cars will be too big for the downtown rails.

According to the City, nearly 5,000 people ride the South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcars daily.

“She’s making a very prudent decision and taking a step back and understanding the cost structure of this,” McQuaid said.

The City is anticipating a $75 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority -- a grant that is earmarked for the connector project.

A city spokesperson told KOMO News the FTA will likely take 12-18 months to make a decision and the City expects an announcement in 2019.

The City hopes to begin operations on the Center City Connector Line in 2022.

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