About a Proposal from Century Transportation Authority

by Bob Fleming

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An organization called Century Transportation Authority (CTA or CenTran) has proposed construction of a monorail line from West Seattle to Ballard. They have now gathered and submitted enough signatures on an initiative petition to place the issue on the November ballot.

CTA logo

These are the basics of their proposal (from their website):

Part I — Project Overview

The first part of the CTA Proposal includes the following:

Purpose: a brief description of the purpose of CTA, to operate trains on fixed guideways with connections to other modes of transporation, and providing a forum in which peoples and organizations can work together to help design a suitable system.

Preliminary Cost Estimates: Here Centran states certain things; 16-mile dual guideway with 18 stations and an estimated cost of $1,360 billion. My opinion: I am very much in favor of a dual guideway (double tracks) over the entire length of the route and it appears that this is what CenTran plans. Regarding cost, the Green Line’s last estimate was a little over $2 billion, after some cuts were made to the design.

Part 2 — Conceptual Routes and System Info

The current proposal consists of a small-scale map of the entire route and the route superimposed on aerial views (Google Maps or similar) of portions of the route, with many streets unnamed and often with no directional arrows (North, etc.). So I am having trouble orienting myself in the various views.

Ballard Area: The best I can figure out is that the north terminus is on the west side of 24th Ave. N.W. south of N.W. 85th St. From there it goes south along 24th Ave. N.W. to N.W. Market St., then southeasterly along Shilshole Ave. N.W. to a bridge crossing of Salmon Bay just west of the Ballard Bridge (15th Ave. N.W./15th Ave. W.). My opinions: I have mixed opinions of this route. The Green Line was supposed to go along 15th Ave. N.W. to its terminus at 15th Ave. N.W. and N.W. 85th St. The new route will miss Ballard High School and the cluster of businesses at Crown Hill. However the heart of the Ballard Business district is around Market Street from 24th Ave. N.W. to 20th Ave. N.W., so the CenTran route will actually come closer to the main business district than the Green Line would have. Also, there are many apartment houses along 24th Ave. N.W.

Interbay to Seattle Center Area: I am not going to try to describe this part of the route in detail, but basically it goes west of 15th Ave. W. until Armory Way, then crosses to the east side of 15th Ave. W. and then further south follows 15th Ave. W. to W. Harrison St., where it follows Harrison to a station ourside the southwest corner of Key Arena, then over to 2nd Ave. N. and south on that street.

Central Waterfront-First Avenue S.: CenTrans proposes that at Denny Way the route would follow Eagle Street from 2nd Ave. N. to Western Ave., then along Western Ave. and the Waterfront (it appears following the current route of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, to be torn down in a few years) to CenturyLink Stadium, where it would switch over to 1st Ave. S., then south on 1st Ave. S. to Spokane St.

West Seattle: CenTran has two alternatives after crossing Duwamish Waterway. Alternative A crosses under the West Seattle Freeway bridge and follows Delridge Way S.W. south to S.W. Genessee St, then west along that street to Avalon Way and after a few more turns gets to California Ave. S.W., then somehow ends up at Westwood Village. Excuse me for the vagueness, but some of the maps are small scale, no street names (or illegible), and north may be at the top, bottom, left, or right and they are not consistant from one map to the next — very confusing!

Central Waterfront HCPRT Collector Distributor System Details: This part of the proposal appears to be a work in progress that has just gotten started. The only thing provided is a small-scale map of downtown Seattle with some colored lines, apparently showing various routes. There is a legend, but it is too small and blurry to make out. Basically, it shows a north-south red line that is presumably the CenTran monorail, and an orange line around South Lake Union and Belltown, and some pink lines that show a route from the waterfront into the downtown area. I am guessing this is some kind of PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) system as there is mention elsewhere in the Proposal about a HCPRT (High Capacity Personal Rapid Transit).

Monorail System Basics: In this part of the CenTran proposal there are three links, two to the Scomi website and one to the Monorail Society website. The links are about why monorail, costs, and cars and operation. For those who want to check the three CenTran links, here they are: Why Monorail? How Much Does a Monorail System Cost? Monorail Cars and Operation

Part 3 — System Economics

This section of the CTA Proposal spells out various ideas for financing the monorail system.

Part 4 — Board

This is a list of members of the Interim CenTran Board along with their bios.

Part 5 — Contact

This is only their contact information. Here is the infro: inquiry@centran.org

3213 W Wheeler No. 271
Seattle, WA 98199
206-295-2845 Leave Message Please

Part 6 — Ballard Canal Crossing Study

This part of the Proposal consists only of four renderings of a bridge that is a low level bridge, probably about the same height as the adjacent Ballard Bridge, and it is a draw bridge.

But I have an even bigger idea, and more costly. That would be to work with the City of Seattle to finance a new high-level bridge for 15th Ave. N.W./15th Ave. W. with the monorail down the center. The Ballard Bridge, a draw bridge, in an impediment to traffic flow and disrupts bus schedules. We need a high level bridge at this point and sharing the bridge between auto traffic and monorail would reduce the cost to each.

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©2012 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 4 August 2014

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