Costs

Streetcars are expensive to install. Given the priorities in funding highway projects in Washington State, and in general the continued saga of funding the ferry system, it is unlikely that the Kitsap Streetcar would be a high priority project for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The State owns Highway 305, so there is no way to develop the streetcar without the cooperation of the state. Even without that hurdle, the cost is currently beyond the reach of the cities of Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, and unincorporated Kitsap County (Kingston) where the streetcar will run. However, as the next section shows, something will be done with Highway 305, and it will be expensive, so we might as well plan ahead.

Highway 305

Highway 305 is 15 miles long. Adding a streetcar line down this whole length would require widening the highway by 15-20 feet in between stops, and wider where there are stops. There are few streetcar installations on similar highways to benchmark the costs. Costs will likely fall between $2 and $12 million per mile (compared with $20+ million per mile for light rail, or $1 – $10 million per mile for an expanded highway).[1]

Agate Pass Bridge

The proposed Green Line from the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal to College Park in Poulsbo must cross Agate Pass. This can either be done on the existing bridge, adding some traffic lights to prevent the street cars from being stuck in the bridge traffic, or by adding a new bridge. Given the infrequency of streetcar traffic, it is possible to have a single track for streetcars, used for both northbound and southbound streetcars.

Winslow and Lynwood and Kingston

For the proposed Blue Line and Orange Line in Winslow and Lynwood on Bainbridge Island, the streetcar would run within the existing right of way. This would require installation of streetcar rails on the remodeled Winslow Way and the recently repaved Madison. Installing those rails will require some manholes and other utility access points to be moved. The same is true for the proposed Purple Line to Kingston, which would be installed within the existing roadway.

Similar installations were done in Seattle for the South Lake Union streetcar line on Westlake, and on Jackson for the First Hill streetcar.

Stages

The proposed streetcar system need not be built all at once. To minimize upfront costs and decrease the time until operation, it can begin as half the Green Line, connecting the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal to ending at the Agate Pass Bridge. It can then grow from there northbound in stages.

Alternative Solutions

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