OC Streetcar Breaks Ground After Receiving Full Funding Grant Agreement

It's only the third full funding grant administration signed by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The $149 million capital investment grant will help fund the 4-mile modern streetcar line from Santa Ana to Garden Grove in Orange County, Calif.

December 4, 2018, 9:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

The site for Friday's signing ceremony by Federal Transit Administration Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams and Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Darrell E. Johnson was the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, which serves Amtrak, Metrolink commuter rail, Greyhound and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) bus lines. 

The $149 million capital investment grant (CIG), along with other federal funding, should pay for about half of the $408 million cost for what will be the first modern streetcar line in the state's third most populous county.

"It’s the third such agreement signed under the Trump administration, and comes days after FTA announced funding for five other transit projects," reports Sam Mintz for Politico Morning Transportation on Monday. The Trump administration has been delaying the release of transit funding authorized by Congress.

The administration's first full funding grant agreement (FFGA) was the Caltrain electrification project in the Bay Area announced in May 2017. The 16-mile light rail Purple Line in Maryland received a $900 million FFGA in August 2017.

According to USDOT's news release on Nov. 30, the "FTA has advanced funding for 17 new CIG projects throughout the nation under this administration since January 20, 2017, totaling approximately $4.8 billion in funding commitments. The present administration will have executed 13 CIG funding agreements by Dec. 31, 2018 for $3.3 billion in CIG funding."

Local and state funding sources include Orange County Measure M2 sales tax and the California Air Resources Board's Low Carbon Transportation Investments which assigns funding from the nation's only state-run cap-and-trade program. See related post, "Big Payoff for Transit from California Cap-and-Trade Program," August 19, 2016.

The groundbreaking also took place at the transit center. The 4-mile line will run from Santa Ana, the nation's fourth densest city with a population exceeding 300,000, to Garden Grove, population 174,000. 

"A fleet of eight streetcar vehicles will serve the route making stops at 10 stations every 10 to 15 minutes, carrying up to 180 passengers at a time," according to OCTA. Service is expected to begin in 2021.

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