The maintenance base for Seattle’s next streetcar route is sprouting a green roof, while workers prepare for the First Hill line to launch in mid-2014.
The site is at 701 S. Dearborn St., next to the Chinatown International District. The $134 million project, funded by Sound Transit, extends from Pioneer Square to mid-Capitol Hill, where a light-rail station opens in 2016. Bikeways are being added on Broadway, but the streetcars will have virtually none of their own running lanes, so they will be susceptible to traffic jams.
The roof includes 28 solar panels. These will provide 2 percent of the power for the maintenance building, said Steve Smith, an engineer for prime streetcar contractor Stacy & Witbeck. Small plants cover most of the surface, which slopes downward toward the west to help drainage. The 10,000-square-foot roof is covered in drought-resistant sedum plants, says the LiveRoof company, which installed it.
Inside the shed, a 75-ton crane is being installed, to service three rail cars inside. Five more rail cars can fit on three tracks alongside the building, Smith said.
Worldwide, green roofs are gaining popularity as a means to reduce heat in urban neighborhoods, absorb carbon, beautify a skyline or provide recreation (though the public won’t be allowed atop the streetcar base). Fresh data are unavailable, but a 2010 study found 62 green roofs and rooftop gardens in the city, including City Hall, drinking-water reservoirs and a Seattle Center parking garage.