Local manufacturer will help build Seattle's second streetcar line

Oct 26, 2011

Seattle has selected a contractor to build its new fleet of streetcars. The city is gearing up to start construction of a route through First Hill. 

Officials say it could be the beginning of many more streetcar possibilities.

Workers are slated to begin construction of the new line between the International District and Capitol Hill in January. That’s also when a local manufacturing company will start training workers to assemble the cars.  Seattle-based Pacifica and its partner company Inekon in the Czech Republic won the bid for the project. Inekon also built cars for the South Lake Union line. 

At a press conference, Mayor Mike McGinn said building the First Hill line is a step in a greater vision sparked by the success of the South Lake Union streetcar:

“We recently received a federal grant for planning money to talk about how we can connect those streetcar lines and have one streetcar," he said. "And we’re talking to the city council about how we can take that investment once we build the network that connects our neighborhoods downtown, how can we reach out into the rest of the city?”

McGinn said the emphasis on streetcars is part of a larger push for increased mass transit in the region.

In fact, the First Hill line is just a small piece of a big Sound Transit package voters approved in 2008. Its major role will be to connect riders to nearby light rail stations. 

Passengers can expect to get on board in late 2013. 

The Seattle company chosen to help build the line will also maintain it. It expects to hire 20 employees for the First Hill project and is vying for similar jobs across the country. The company's goal is to turn Seattle into a streetcar manufacturing hub.