It took years of effort to get a trolley clanking through downtown Issaquah. Now the red-and-white streetcar, on loan from Yakima, will disappear next month, and supporters have begun a campaign to raise money to buy another, to keep the rail dreams on track.
The Issaquah Valley Trolley began to ply its one-mile route from the city's historic train depot north to the Gilman Village shopping area on weekends last spring. The city spent $1 million to buy a mile of abandoned rail corridor between downtown and Northwest Gilman Boulevard. Volunteers built a storage shed and spruced up a borrowed streetcar.
Supporters called the inaugural year, in which the trolley carried 5,000 passengers, a great success.
The trolley must return to Yakima next month. The next phase is to raise between $150,000 and $180,000 to buy and restore a used trolley, perhaps from Aspen, Colo., or Dallas, said Craig Thorpe, operations director.
A new, vintage-style trolley can cost $500,000 to $800,000, Thorpe said.
In the next five years the trolley system, a project of the Issaquah Historical Society, hopes to work with King County to re-lay two miles of track between Gilman Boulevard and Lake Sammamish State Park.
More stops and more trolley cars are also planned. The changes would cost "several hundred thousand dollars," Thorpe estimated. The city has not yet committed money to the next phases.
In the last two months the new fund-raising drive received $10,000 from Microsoft and $10,000 from an anonymous donor.
The trolley will continue to run Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., through Mother's Day, May 12. It will also run Wednesday, May 1, during the city's art walk. A ride costs $2.
Chris Solomon can be reached at 206-515-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.