Plans Advance for Orange County Streetcar

The $289 million streetcar would serve the cities of Santa Ana (population 329,00), county seat and second densest in California after San Francisco, and Garden Grove (population 170,000) on a 4.1-mile route. Service could begin 2020.

April 2, 2016, 7:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

"Plans for Orange County’s first modern streetcar took several important steps forward this week when the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors approved a series of actions to help facilitate the design and construction of the project," according to an article in the Orange County Breeze.

Credit: Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)/ OC Streetcar

Among them was "(a)pproving respective cooperative agreements with the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove – the two cities where the OC Streetcar will be built – for the design phase of the project." 

"Expected to begin operations in 2020, the OC Streetcar will link the bustling Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC), which provides regional rail, OCTA bus, and intercity and international bus services, to a new multimodal hub at Harbor Boulevard/Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove," according to the website.

sa projectCredit:  OC Streetcar

At the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC), the OC Streetcar will serve passengers transferring to and from Metrolink trains and the 351-mile LOSSAN Rail Corridor, serving passengers using the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service from San Luis Obispo in the north to San Diego.

"OCTA is the lead agency developing the project, which is expected to cost approximately $289 million overall," notes the Breeze.

OCTA has been working with the Federal Transit Administration through the federal New Starts program. In February, President Obama included $125 million in the federal budget for the OC Streetcar, signaling strong federal support for the project.

However, as posted in February, Obama's $300 billion transportation budget, funded through an unprecedented $10-per-barrel oil fee, "would have difficulty clearing the Republican-controlled Congress." Sizable grants from New Starts were authorized by Congress last December thanks to the "must-pass" Omnibus Spending Bill.

For the project to receive federal funding, a “full funding grant agreement” is necessary.

The website indicates that on "May 5, 2015: OCTA receives approval [PDF] to enter Federal New Starts Program" [now called the Capital Investment Program].

Other sources include Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. On the current schedule, construction for the OC Streetcar would begin in late 2017, with service beginning in 2020.

[Note from the Orange County Breeze: The article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.]

The OC Streetcar should not be confused with the streetcar proposed to serve Anaheim, the most populous city in Orange County, that goes by the name Anaheim Rapid Connection or ARC (not to be confused with the 2010 canceled Hudson River Rail Tunnels that went by the same acronym, standing for Access to the Region's Core). Hopefully the new ARC will fare much better.

Earlier this month, the city of Anaheim released a proposed map that the streetcar would take to link the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) to Disneyland. "If approved, the 3.2-mile route would have eight stops, including a new transportation center built by Disneyland Resort where park visitors could hop off buses, taxis and the new streetcar," write Art Marroquin and Joseph Pimentel for The Orange County Register.

Hat tip to LA Metro Headlines.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 in Orange County Breeze

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