OC Streetcar rendering.

OC Streetcar rendering.

Plans to build Orange County’s first modern streetcar took a major step forward today as the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) board of directors approved seeking a federal full funding grant agreement that would cover nearly half of the overall cost to build the OC Streetcar.

OCTA, the lead agency planning to build the OC Streetcar in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, will seek a full funding grant agreement from the Federal Transit Administration for $148.9 million.

Overall, the project is expected to cost approximately $299.3 million, with other funding coming from state cap-and-trade funding, other federal funding and locally from Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, and additional federal funds.

OCTA has been working closely with the FTA from the beginning of planning on the project to meet strict eligibility requirements for funding and has received several approvals along the way signaling strong support at the federal level.

Back in January, the FTA reviewed the project’s ridership projections, financial commitments, and benefits to the community and granted permission for the project to enter into the engineering phase, the last phase before construction. And earlier this month, Congressional leaders identified the OC Streetcar as a project worthy of funding by allocating $50 million in funding for the current fiscal year.

Design is now 90% complete and a contract to construct the OC Streetcar is scheduled to be awarded this winter.

The FTA’s full funding grant agreement is the contract between the federal government and OCTA that solidifies funding commitments and defines roles and responsibilities.

Through the application, OCTA will demonstrate that the project has met all requirements to receive funding through the federal Capital Investment Grant Program.

OCTA is scheduled to submit the final documents supporting the full funding grant agreement application to the FTA by late May. Following FTA review and approval and a 30-day Congressional review, the agreement is scheduled to be finalized by early December.

The OC Streetcar will operate on a 4.1-mile route from the busy Santa Ana train station, along Santa Ana Boulevard and Fourth Street and along the Pacific Electric right-of-way to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove.

Construction on the OC Streetcar is set to begin in 2018 with the start of testing and operations planned for 2020.

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