Redmond City Council tables potential trolley to Woodinville winery district
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
March 23, 2011 · Updated 4:01 PM
Redmond City Council decided to table the possibility of creating a trolley line from downtown Redmond to Woodinville's winery district.
City officials hired Shiels Obletz Johnsen, Inc. (SOJ), a Seattle firm that specializes in urban development and project management, to do a preliminary feasibility study on having a trolley line. Bradley Tong from SOJ presented the firm's findings to council members at Tuesday's study session meeting at City Hall council chambers. Tong's presentation covered different aspects of the study ranging from the trolley's route to Redmond's authority to operate a trolley to possible types of vehicles that could be used.
"(The study) does answer some questions," said Carolyn Hope, a senior park planner for Redmond.
Hope, who is in charge of the Redmond Central Connector (RCC) project, said the study began in fall 2010 as a way to explore Redmond's options for the old railroad tracks the city purchased along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Corridor — whether to keep or take out the tracks, which are also part of the trail and park space that will be created as part of the RCC.
The proposed trolley's route would run along the corridor and north to winery district in Woodinville and would have focused on tourists rather than commuters.
"Commuter service would not likely be successful," Tong said.
The track beds are in very poor condition and would limit the trolley's speed to about 10 miles per hour, he added.
Tong said the initial capital expenses for a Redmond-Woodinville trolley would range from $2 million to $5 million, depending on existing conditions. The potential revenue, using a fare range of free to $2, is 30,000 to $100,000 per year.
With the high cost of the project but nominal potential revenue, council members don't think now is the time for the city to pay for such a project. They said, while the idea may sound nice, neither city is ready for a trolley.
Council member Kimberly Allen added that while Woodinville's wine district is charming, it is not charming enough to draw a strong ridership for the trolley and the same could be said for downtown Redmond.
"I think it's not yet time for something like this," she said. "I would love to see something like (a trolley)."
Council member Pat Vache said while now may not be the time, he thinks Redmond should preserve the option to have a trolley for the future.
If Redmond does have a trolley in its future, council member David Carson said the city should not be in charge of running it. He said it should be a third party with the knowledge and expertise to operate a trolley.
"All (the city has) to do is preserve (the tracks) until that time," he said.
Council member John Stilin agrees, saying if a Redmond-Woodinville trolley is truly a business opportunity, people would be approaching them. And if and when the time comes, he would rather have these businesses do the additional research, similar to how construction companies would when putting in a bid for a project.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.