A four-mile streetcar through downtown Los Angeles moved closer to reality after a $590 million funding plan outlined how a combination of federal grants, county Metro funds and local dollars could lead to groundbreaking on the project in the near future.
Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents much of the downtown area, called the project "shovel-ready" and will oversee a hearing on the plan Tuesday during a meeting of the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which he chairs.
"Downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of incredible growth, and we need to do all we can to prepare for that growth and our escalating transportation needs" Huizar said. "In DTLA, we have approximately half a million workers daily, an exploding residential market that continues to grow, and 19 million visitors coming to downtown annually. The streetcar is not only shovel-ready, it is ready to help the region meet our transportation demands as a first-mile, last-mile solution for thousands of riders a day, connecting to four Metro rail lines within downtown L.A. I look forward to seeing a funding plan that will allow us to clear the last hurdle to bring the beloved streetcar back to the streets of Los Angeles."
Huizar's office noted that with the required state environmental reports on the project completed, the city's Department of Transportation can move forward with pursuing up to $100 million in Federal Transit Administration "Small Starts" grant funds for the streetcar before a Sept. 7 deadline.
About $200 million for the project is set to come from the L.A. County voter-approved Measure M, and although the funds will not be available until 2053, Friday's report from the Office of the City Administrator also instructs LADOT to submit a request to Metro to move the funding up through either a city-built or public-private partnership construction delivery method.
"DTLA's population is projected to triple to 200,000 residents by 2040, and the streetcar -- paired with other important investments in our transportation network -- will help them get around downtown without adding more cars to our already-congested streets," said Jessica Lall, president & CEO of the Central City Association. "Frequent, accessible, and convenient streetcar service will help transform downtown into a truly walkable community where cars are optional, and we're excited to see the project take another important step forward."
Huizar's office said the streetcar currently has $390 million in committed local funding, including $294 million in Measure R Local Return Funds to pay for the operation of the system for 30 years.
The round-trip length of the streetcar would be 3.8 miles, according to the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. It would run within existing traffic lanes extending between 1st and 11th streets while running along 1st, Broadway, 11th, Figueroa, 7th and Hill streets. There would also be an option to extend the streetcar along Grand Avenue.
NBC4's Rudy Chinchilla contributed to this story.