Los Angeles — Streetcar Engineering Fully Funded
Rail Transit Online — May 2011
The proposed downtown Los Angeles streetcar project is just getting into the serious planning stage and so far has very little funding, but officials are already talking about expanding the route.
Originally promoted as a link between the Civic Center and the Convention Center in the historic but faded Broadway corridor, newly-released suggestions call for extending the tracks north through Mexican-themed Olvera Street, where L.A. was founded, to Chinatown and south to Washington Boulevard, with connections to the Gold Line at the northern end and the Blue Line in the south.
The extensions may actually be required because the congested central city doesn't
have affordable land available for a yard and maintenance facility. Public meetings are being held seeking citizen input on the project, including several route alternatives, as part of an environmental analysis now underway.
"For the FTA's purposes, we have to go back to every bit of work that has been done and ask the question, 'How did you get there?'" MTA Planning Director Robin Blair told the LA Downtown News. "It's all revisited. Every alignment, who is the community and did you listen to them?" Much of the early planning was carried out by the non-profit LA Streetcar Inc., established in large part by 14th District City Councilman Jose Huizar as part of his effort to revitalize the shabbier portions of downtown.
However, the MTA is now the lead agency.
Several route alternatives have been suggested, including some one-way couplets, but Huizar is determined to keep the tracks on Broadway. "That for us is the main goal, and having the streetcar... connect to other transit and not become just a tourist attraction, but something that is really used by folks downtown," Huizar spokesman Rick Coca told the LA Downtown News.
Funding, of course, remains key to the project's success. At least 50 percent of the capital cost will have to come from the federal government with the local share possibly generated from property assessments or other special taxing districts.