Seattles new trams may be too big to lay rails, maintenance center Mayor's Office says
Mayor Jenny Durkan in March held the tram extension ̵
1; covering the city's two fragmented lines with a new lane along First Avenue would connect – according to a Seattle Times report to increased costs for the operation of the system.
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Durkan hired an independent consultant, KPMG, to review the costs and benefits of the project. This review was due to be completed last month, but Durkan's office said on Tuesday that it was more complicated than expected and should now be completed in August.
The mayor's office refused to publish drafts of the KPMG report. Durkan's office said Tuesday they had "learned at the same time as KPMG's Review" that the new trams ordered for the extended system in the fall were larger than the city's current trams and raised questions about their fit with existing tracks
But the Department of Transportation of the City (SDOT) knew of at least some of these problems last year, as shortly thereafter the $ 52 million contract was signed for 10 new trams.
Almost all of the railroads that Seattle Streetcar included operate on a normal gauge – the distance between the two rails. Both the current Seattle trams, manufactured by Inekon, and the newly ordered, manufactured by CAF USA are standard sizes, with wheels spaced 1.435 meters apart to fit on the rails. The bodywork of the older Inekon trams is an inch wider than that of the CAF cars.
But the new CAF cars are longer and heavier than the Inekon cars.
The CAF cars weigh 81,461 pounds; The Inekon cars weigh about 60,200 pounds.
The CAF cars are 75 feet long; the Inekon cars are 66 feet long.
This nine-foot difference in length was raised as a problem last fall.
SDOT signed the contract with CAF in late September, with the first of the road cars to be delivered in June 1969.
In early November, the "King County Metro," which operates the trams for SDOT, wrote to the city with concern that the new cars would fit into the two tight maintenance workshops where the underground service pits were custom built for the shorter Inekon cars.
"Has the increased length of the new car, 75 feet vs. 66 feet, been applied to yard parking drawings showing the storage capacity?" Tedd Hankins, Subway Tram Superintendent,
wrote to Chris Eilerman, the city's tram manager. "Have we also verified that the pits are long enough to keep us [e] at both bases?"
A week later, on November 11, Hankins wrote again to Eilerman with reservations as to how the longer cars would work the peculiarities of the street's street scene.
"In addition to store interference, on Broadway the front of the new car will interfere with a driveway when docking," wrote Hankins. "We can also put a down-car at the end of Broadway and make another one before that, and that will not be possible, which also means we can not get a CAF car for towing or towing, the existing loop to get out will also not work for the CAF car. "
Hankins refers to the area near the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station, where the First Hill tram stops its journey and turns on a wishbone-shaped lane
The emails were part of a vast collection of documents previously received by the Seattle Times through a public request to the King County Metro. The e-mails do not reveal what SDOT's answer was, and Eilerman and SDOT did not respond to requests for comments.
Ultimately it is still unclear how important these problems are.
Combined with uncertain and rising costs for the now $ 200 million project, they were enough to make Durkan pause, leaving the project in abeyance.
But City Council member Rob Johnson, a longtime supporter of the extended tram, said he has some concerns about funding the project, but not the size specifications
The tram project has been planned since at least 2012 and has essentially $ 50 million backed by federal funds, with another $ 25 million to follow. Proponents refer to this as an efficient way to get into the city center and improve the existing lines of the city.
"I trust that we always do this work from a technical point of view, so I do not care about these aspects of the project," Johnson said. "I think the mayor is very detail-oriented. She brings her up for reading the entire KPMG report.
"For me, that's an indication that she's clearly attracted her lawyer's hat and has additional questions about these details," Johnson continued. "I do not have the same level of concern, and I'd like to think that has something to do with my two decades of transportation experience."
Keith Kyle, the executive director of Seattle Subway, a transit advocacy organization, saw a shameful reason for the mayor's actions.
He pointed to the identical teachings of the two trams and wondered why the mayor's office said the new trams were wider than the old ones.
"We think this is the beginning of a predefined decision by the mayor's office to end the project," Kyle said. "We really only have a lot of questions and it all depends on what purpose it is to publish this information now because we have a study that is supposed to come back soon, there's a draft out there, why do we get it this information not? "