The dream of again riding a streetcar in Downtown LA is one step closer to reality. Blogdowntown reports that an environmental review is now underway for two potential routes. The two paths, each four-miles long, were selected as part of the federally-required Alternatives Analysis (AA) process and were recently sent to METRO’s Planning & Programming Committee and Construction Committee.
According to a press release from LA Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office, the primary route “proceeds south on Broadway from 1st Street to 11th Street, west to Figueroa Street, north to 7th Street, east to Hill Street, and north, terminating at 1st Street. The route would also include the ability to travel up 1st Street and into Bunker Hill on Grand Avenue as funding becomes available.” The alternate route would travel east on 9th Street instead of on 7th Street.
If approved the streetcars would run 18 hours a day, seven days a week, according to blogdowntown, and would service the 500,000 workers and 50,000 residents in the area. The site describes the streetcars’ expected style as sleek and modern, similar to those of Portland and Seattle. Cost estimates for the project are in the area of $110-$125 million, according to published reports. While city sources have raised $10 million so far, a tax on property owners near the route must be passed before federal grants (covering half of the cost) can be requested. Passage of the tax would require two-thirds approval from the area’s roughly 7,000 voters.
Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI), which is heading up the project’s development and fundraising, is a public/private non-profit partnership composed of Downtown LA stakeholders. The formal environmental review and preliminary engineering process is estimated to take about a year, while groundbreaking is planned for 2014 and completion for 2016, according to the Huffington Post. Councilman Huizar’s press release cites an AECOM study estimating that the streetcar “would generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.”