Santa Ana — Transit Agency Takes Over
The four-mile, $250 million modern streetcar project that Santa Ana wants to build has been taken over by the Orange County Transportation Authority [OCTA], the Voice of Orange County site reports.
Orange County’s transportation agency was given control over Santa Ana’s streetcar project this week, as two board members continue questioning whether there are more effective ways to spend the project’s $250 million expected cost.
“I think it’s wildly expensive compared to other alternatives that I think are better,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, speaking as an Orange County Transportation Authority director at the August 11th board meeting. The county could have electric buses that “look almost like a streetcar, but as demand changes” as years go by you can change the route, said Tait, who is one of the most vocal opponents of a similar and also controversial project in Anaheim. “It’s wildly cheaper. You don’t have the upfront capital costs,” Tait added. “You could have a system almost countywide.”
Meanwhile, the project’s lead supporter, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, said the streetcar would be a significant step in the growing urbanization of Central Orange County. “We’re basically setting a framework which I think long term is going to make this county – and I mean this entire county – a better county,” said Pulido. “We can continue to widen freeways,” he added, but “ultimately we can’t widen freeways forever. We just cant.”
OCTA Chairman Shawn Nelson concurred, citing Los Angeles County’s aggressive efforts to expand their light rail network. “You’re ignoring the facts if you think that their implementation of light rail hasn’t been” the most successful implementation of light rail in U.S., said Nelson. “The future of this county is employers are going to either be on rail – not because I say so – but because” it’s not realistic not to, he added.
Almost all of the five members of the public who commented at the meeting supported the project.
The proposed takeover was passed on a 13-2 vote, with directors Tait and John Moorlach opposing.