Plans for Orange County, Calif.’s first modern streetcar got a major boost Tuesday when President Barack Obama included $125 million for the OC Streetcar in his budget for next fiscal year, signaling federal endorsement for the much-anticipated project.
The OC Streetcar is planned to travel along a 4.1-mile route from the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, through Downtown Santa Ana and the Civic Center, along the Pacific-Electric right of way, and connect to a new multimodal transit hub at Harbor Boulevard and Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove.
Up to six streetcars are planned to run along the route, stopping every 10 minutes during peak hours at 10 stations in each direction. On the current schedule, construction for the OC Streetcar would begin in late 2017, with service beginning in 2020.
The inclusion of the OC Streetcar in the president’s budget puts the project into the federal funding pipeline on the path to receiving up to half of the project’s cost from federal funds. Within the next two years, the FTA will consider a full-funding grant agreement, which finalizes the total project funding amount from the New Starts program.
“The OC Streetcar has earned the support of the local businesses and residents of Santa Ana and Garden Grove and now we are seeing officials at the federal level recognize what a strong transportation project this is,” said OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson. “We look forward to partnering with the federal government as we continue toward construction.”
The OC Streetcar, now in project development, is intended to provide easy connections for people traveling from trains and buses to employment, retail and recreational areas in the heart of Orange County.
The Orange County Transportation Authority is the lead agency developing the project, which is expected to cost about $289 million overall. OCTA has been working with the Federal Transit Administration through the federal New Starts program. Other funding is coming from various state and local sources, including Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.
Last year, the project took several steps forward when it earned state and federal environmental clearances, hired HDR to manage the project and selected a designer, HNTB, to advance the streetcar plans.
For information on the project, visit www.OCstreetcar.com