Ideas to Improve the Seattle Center Monorail

The historic Alweg monorail built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair Needs Improvements

by Bob Fleming

Seattle Center Monorail web site Advantages of monorail My opinions about Seattle area monorail Former Seattle Monorail Project A Proposed Regional Monorail System Arguments against monorail and my responses My ideas for monorail system design My ideas for routes (PRT) Personal Rapid Transit Vocabulary Frequently asked questions Links to other monorail sites Contact me

Other Sites of Mine

A Greater Seattle My mobility web site My transportation web site My mass transit web site The Fleming Family home page

History

In 1962 there was a large World’s Fair in Seattle. Officially the fair was The Century 21 Exposition, but was better known as the Seattle World’s Fair. The fair itself was very successful, but perhaps more remarkably, the area used for the Fair has been preserved for public use as the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center is an area with fountains, park space, amusement rides, entertainment venues, and other attractions.

Since the World’s Fair the station at Fifth and Pine has been relocated and redesigned, and there have been some other lesser modification, but essentially it is still the same line that began operations in 1962.

There are two monorail trains, one for each of the two guideways. There is no switching mechanism — each train remains forever on its own guideway, running back and forth from one end of the line to the other. One of the trains is painted red and the other is blue, so they are called the Red Train and Blue Train.

The Downtown station was originally in the area at the southwest corner of 5th Avenue and Pine Street, but in 1988 demolished and a new station built on the north side of Pine Street, alongside of 5th Avenue and built into the east side of the Westlake Center shopping center. At this time the guideway beams (tracks) were realigned and moved closer together to fit into the narrower new station. The problem is that now that the beams are closer together, there isn’t enough room for the trains to be alongside enach other withour sideswiping each other, so only one train at a time can be in the station. In fact, in 2005, due to some kind of error, two trains actually did sideswipe each other just north of the station, causing considerable damage to both trains and to the guideway.

Proposals to Improve the System

Improve the Westlake Station:

There should be a new station at Westlake Center that is larger and with tracks further apart so that both trains can enter the station at the same time, and with facilities such that passengers can board and depart both trains at the same time.

One such plan is proposed by VIA Architecure.

Another possibility would be to build a new station south of Pine Street, but with better appearance than the original station, and in a way that it would not interfere with other activities in the space, now known as Westlake Plaza. This plan would separate the station from the Westlake Center shopping center building, eliminating any conflicts with use of that building by tenants and customers, eliminating any possible conflicts in operating hours, and increasing convenience for passengers.

Extend the Line to Key Arena:

In the area where the existing Seattle Center station is located, just west of the Museum of Pop Culture, curve the guideway to the south and then along Thomas Street to an new station in the area south of Key Arena, north of Thomas Street, and east of 1st Avenue North.

The guidway curving to the south from where the exit the Museum of Pop Culture would mean that the new alignment would pass wouth of the existing Seattle Center station, so a new station would need to be built just south of the existing one, alont the new guideway. A switch would permit trains to enter the existing station for maintenance and storage.

More about the Seattle Center Monorail, as it is now, on their web site.

News

There is no recent news to report.


Return to the monorail home page Contact Us


©2003 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 28 May 2018.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional