Preliminary Metro staff report on potential transportation ballot measure funds identifies $200 million for the Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar – with solid ridership estimates, improved service speed, and the EIR and other 2016 milestones on course, the L.A. Streetcar is advancing toward its 2020 target date
Metro released a report today on projects that could be funded through a new half-cent sales tax on the ballot in November 2016. The report has identified $200 million to be set aside for construction of the Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar. The potential ballot measure would ask voters to increase the countywide sales tax by a half-cent for 40 years and to continue an existing tax (Measure R) for an extra 18 years to run through 2057. The important measure would fund hundreds of much-needed transportation projects and focus on easing congestion and improving transportation options for the entire region. The report now heads to the Metro Board where it must be approved before the measure can go before Los Angeles County voters.
“The people of Los Angeles want to bring the beloved streetcar back to Downtown Los Angeles, which will be a benefit to the entire region’s transportation network,” said Councilmember José Huizar, champion of the Downtown LA streetcar through his Bringing Back Broadway initiative. “This ballot initiative funding would complete the financial picture for this important regionally significant circulator project. We will continue to work diligently with Mayor Garcetti, Metro, the City, LASI and all our partners, as we work toward a 2020 opening date for the Los Angeles Streetcar.”
Each project identified for funding was required to be assigned a projected timeline for receiving funds – first decade, second and third. Still to be decided is whether shovel-ready projects could advance in a different decade than projected in the report. Currently the Los Angeles Streetcar is listed in the third-phase category of funding among proposed projects.
The Downtown L.A. Streetcar is steadily advancing toward its 2020 target date by achieving numerous milestones under the leadership of the City’s Bureau of Engineering, Department of Transportation and non-profit partner Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc., with the support of Councilmember Huizar.
“Streetcar being funded in Metro’s proposed ballot initiative is an important step forward for the project, putting us on a strong financial footing just as we’re planning to wrap up environmental review and preliminary engineering by the end of 2016,” said Steve Needleman, Chairman of Los Angeles Streetcar Inc. “We look forward to continuing our work with Metro and the City to bring new mobility options to the growing downtown community.”
In June 2015, the Los Angeles City Council set a $250 million maximum cost target for the project which will move approximately 6,000 people a day, connecting with four regional rail lines and hundreds of bus lines, providing vital first & last mile circulation service for the hundreds of thousands of workers and tens of thousands of Downtown residents throughout the core of Downtown LA, including the Civic Center, historic Broadway and the Historic Core, the Fashion District, South Park, L.A. Live and the Convention Center, the Financial District, and restaurant row through the Jewelry District.
The project will run along 1st Street, Broadway, 11th Street, Figueroa Street, 7th Street or 9th Street, and Hill Street with an optional spur on Grand Avenue to be built if funding is available.
Preliminary engineering and design work has begun on the project with completion of 30% design expected this year. Environmental review will be released in draft form this summer and completed by year’s end, with a projected construction start in 2018.
The 3.8 mile loop is expected to run at least 6 mph during the evening rush hour, which eclipses earlier estimates.
The L.A. Streetcar’s service frequency will also be greater than most other streetcar systems in the nation, with vehicles arriving every seven minutes during peak hours, every 10 minutes mid-day and every 15 minutes in the evening, with service extending through early morning hours.
For the Downtown LA Streetcar, as much as $100 million in federal Small Starts funding and a public/private partnership, also remain on the table for funding, to address any remaining funding gap should the ballot initiative not proceed.
The Streetcar project already has $367.5 million in committed local funding for capital, planning, and 30 year operations: $62.5 million in local capital funding via the Community Facilities District (CFD), a special tax overwhelmingly approved by downtown voters (73% in favor); $10 million from the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and $1 million from the Measure R Local Return Fund for planning, environmental and pre-construction costs; and $294 million in Measure R Local Return Funds to pay for operation of the system over 30 years.
Councilmember Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway Initiative
Led by Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar, Bringing Back Broadway is an ambitious 10-year plan to revitalize the Historic Broadway corridor in downtown Los Angeles, a National Register Historic District. Goals are to provide economic development and business assistance; re-activate Broadway’s historic vacant theaters, as well as more than one million square feet of vacant commercial space and increase parking and transit options, including bringing the beloved streetcar back to downtown Los Angeles.
Under the initiative, which celebrated its 8th anniversary in January, the area has already experienced a surge in new retail and restaurants, and is becoming a focal point for creative office and boutique hotel development with city policies aimed at creating flexibility for the reactivation of upper-floor spaces.