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The Issaquah Valley Trolley
Welcome Aboard the Issaquah Valley Trolley
What is the Issaquah Valley Trolley?
The Issaquah Valley Trolley (IVT) is a working committee of the Issaquah Historical Society. IVT intends to operate a vintage trolley car on the railroad tracks from the historic Issaquah Depot near Sunset Way to the Visitor’s Center at Gilman Boulevard.
What will the trolley operation accomplish?
The trolley will increase the city’s economic vitality by attracting people to the center of Old Issaquah. It will provide a vital link between downtown Issaquah and the Gilman Village area.
The trolley will benefit the historical society by bringing visitors to its two museums, the historic Depot and the Gilman Town Hall. Additionally those riding on the trolley will get to hear about the history of the town while experiencing what it was like to come into Issaquah via rail.
The benefit to the city in general is that riders will move from the trolley to other parts of town, patronizing businesses and restaurants. The trolley project plans to partner with the DownTown Issaquah Association (DIA) for activities such as ArtWalk and holiday events. The trolley can also serve as a modest model for efficient transportation systems.
How do we know that IVT will attract visitors?
Over 6,000 visitors rode the trolley in 2001 when IVT conducted a test project with a car leased from the Yakima Valley Trolley. This was an amazing number of riders, considering that the trolley operated only four hours a day on weekends during late spring, summer and early fall. The leased car was returned to Yakima in spring 2002. To this day museum staff and volunteers continue to be asked when the trolley will run again.
What equipment does IVT own?
The success of the test operation inspired IVT to search for its own trolley cars. Eventually the project located two narrow-gauge cars (#519 & #521) from Aspen, CO. They were built in 1925 for the Lisbon, Portugal trolley system. IVT also acquired a large steel interurban car (#96) from San Francisco, CA, which was built in 1930 for Milan, Italy.
Which trolley will be used for IVT’s operation?
The 519 car, currently stored in the trolley barn near the Depot, is in the best condition. The car will be converted to standard gauge and be refurbished to its original look and running condition. It is anticipated that the 519 will be the only car in operation for the foreseeable future.
The 521 car needs extensive work. It is being held aside as a future project for volunteers. The 96 car also needs extensive work and its size makes it impractical for operation on the length of track available. IVT is seeking a buyer for the 96 car.
What needs to be done to make IVT a viable operation?
In the initial phase – refurbish the 519 car, rehabilitate the track from Sunset Way to just south of the railroad bridge over the East Fork of Issaquah Creek, and install a crossing signal system on Front Street. If enough money remains after this work is done, the project will be completed by reinforcing the East Fork bridge and completing track rehabilitation to Gilman Blvd. Other improvements will be made as funding allows.
How will these objectives be funded?
IVT has obtained three federally funded grants: $177,880 (net after “take down”) from a federal transportation bill, and two countywide grants awarded through the Puget Sound Regional Council in the amounts of $125,000 and $175,000. The countrywide grants require IVT to provide matching money totaling $46,820. The grants plus the matches bring the total amount available to the project to $524,700. This will be just enough to cover capital costs, project management, administration, permits and inspections.
The City of Issaquah is the manager and the certifying acceptance (CA) agency for the trolley project. As CA the City assures that federal guidelines are met and that the grant money is spent responsibly. The city is compensated from the grants for providing these services. As the work progresses, IVT volunteers are raising funds to meet the matching obligations and making plans to begin operations in 2011.
How can I volunteer to help with the IVT, or stay abreast of trolley-related news?
Contact us at email@example.com. We'd be happy to put you on our mailing list, and/or accept your help!