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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

March 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Can old waterfront streetcars get back on track?

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Sketched Feb. 27 and March 5, 2013

I’ve yet to talk to a person in Seattle who didn’t love the George Benson waterfront streetcars.

Since 2005, they’ve been stored at a facility in Sodo where Metro kindly let this newspaper artist roam around.

As I was sizing up the cavernous room, I stumbled upon a “RIDER ALERT” sign still glued to a streetcar door. Talk about a blast from the past: “Beginning Saturday, Nov. 19, the Waterfront Streetcar will be temporarily replaced by Route 99 bus service, pending construction of a new streetcar maintenance facility.”

Why that new facility was never built seems beyond the point now that eight years have passed. My question is: Will I ever ride one of these?

Streetcar advocate Tom Gibbs, a retired transit executive, is optimistic. He said the 1.6 mile line that first opened in 1982 could be linked to the First Hill line, which is scheduled to open early next year. And a barn for the new streetcar line planned at 8th Avenue South and South Dearborn Street could also be expanded to accommodate the beloved trolleys.

Since Metro considered selling them last year, 966 people have signed an online petition at saveourstreetcar.org to restore the legacy of the late City Council member George Benson. Gibbs assured me there is a lot of support out there.

I hope he is right.

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The five streetcars date from the 1920s and were used in Melbourne, Australia, before they were shipped to Seattle.

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This is one of the waterfront stops that is still standing.

Comments | More in Public transportation, Transportation | Topics: Downtown, Downtown waterfront

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