Trolleys To Return To Eastlake -- No. 70 Route First In Electric- Bus Expansion
The trolleys are coming to Eastlake - slowly.
Sometime in 1995, the quiet electric buses will go into operation along Fairview Avenue North and Eastlake Avenue East, replacing the noisy diesels that now carry thousands of passengers daily between downtown Seattle and the University District.
For trolley fans, it has been a long wait.
Streetcars and trolley buses once operated on Eastlake, but the wires were pulled down many years ago as the old Seattle Transit System junked much of its electric fleet and turned to diesel power.
Then in 1983, Metro proposed expanding trolley service on three routes - the No. 70, which follows Eastlake; the No. 36 to Beacon Hill and by providing express (or passing) wire on the No. 2 route between downtown and Queen Anne Hill. But nothing happened.
Metro renewed work on trolley expansion in 1992 and conducted public meetings on its original plans to restore overhead wire to the No. 70 and No. 36 and to add express wire to the No. 2.
Although more public meetings and a hearing are coming up, the Eastlake trolley work has been at the top of rating lists and the project seems guaranteed.
"Route 70 will be done first," said Emmett Heath, a Metro manager. "We have plans and funding approved to complete final design for Routes 70, 36 and 2 and enough funds to build one of the three.
"Our decision is to build the 70 first.
"It has strong community support and it is a very high
ridership route between downtown Seattle and one of our largest regional centers, the University of Washington," Heath said.
Work on Routes 36 and 2 will be scheduled when funds are available, he said.
The cost of electrical work on the three routes totals about $38 million, with the Eastlake project alone costing about $17 million. Most of the money will come from the federal government.
Not only will some standard diesel buses be eliminated from Eastlake, but the conversion project also will give Metro the ability to operate its dual-power tunnel buses as trolleys along the route, further reducing noise and odor.
The dual-power buses now switch from electric power to diesel as they leave the downtown bus tunnel.
Metro has planned three open houses, at which neighborhood residents may learn about the project.
Scheduled for 7 p.m., they will be Thursday in the Police Officers' Guild building at 2517 Eastlake Ave. E., next Tuesday in the Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S. Myrtle St. on Beacon Hill, and May 12 in the Metro Council chambers on the 17th floor of the Pacific Building, 720 Third Ave. in downtown Seattle. A public hearing will follow the May 12 open house at 7:30 p.m.
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