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OC Streetcar to Receive $50 Million in Federal Funding

OCTA’s OC Streetcar project was included in Congress’s most recent budget package under the federal New Starts program. Image: OCTA.net

The OC Streetcar got a reprieve this week when it was included in Congress's recently agreed-upon funding package. If it is signed by President Trump, the Garden Grove-to-Santa Ana streetcar project would receive $50 million from the federal New Starts program, which faces an uncertain future under the current administration.

“We’re thrilled to see the federal government continue to join us at the local level in recognizing what a strong transportation project this is,” said Miguel Pulido, mayor of Santa Ana and Orange County Transportation Authority Director, in a news release. OCTA is the lead agency on the OC Streetcar project.

Though the package to keep the government running until October includes neither the administration's proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency nor funding for the border wall, the news that it will fund public transportation projects is still a surprise.

So far it seems the dog's bark is worse than its bite. Even Caltrain's rail electrification, a project that was being threatened locally and at the Capitol, was included in this week's package, getting a funding allocation of $100 million.

The OC Streetcar project  is expected to cost about $298 million total. OCTA has been working with the Federal Transit Administration to get funding through the federal New Starts program, while other funding will come from various state and local sources, including Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

The FTA is expected to consider a full-funding grant agreement, which finalizes the total project funding amount from the Capital Investment Grant Program. Federal funding could pay for approximately half of the overall cost.

As currently planned, the OC Streetcar will 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 for the route, stopping every ten minutes during peak hours at ten stations in each direction.

Construction for the streetcar is expected to begin next year, with service beginning in 2020.

Two OC Streetcar community meetings are scheduled in Santa Ana next week:

    • Tuesday, May 9, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.Ebell Club, 625 French St
    • Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.Lydia Romero-Cruz Elementary School, 1512 W. Santa Ana Blvd

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