Plans for a downtown streetcar have seemed far-fetched to some, but this week the L.A. City Council unanimously certified the project's environmental impact report — a major hurdle.
November was a good month for the streetcar. On Nov. 8, voters approved the transportation-focused retail tax hike known as Measure M. Among other things, the measure will provide $200 million for the downtown rail loop.
The approval of the report and of Measure M has pumped up the confidence of longtime streetcar booster José Huizar, who represents the area on the City Council. He believes this thing can be up and running by 2020. The council's approval "marks a very important milestone in bringing the beloved streetcar back to downtown Los Angeles,” he said in a statement.
Plans call for a 3.8-mile track running along First Street, Broadway, 11th Street, Figueroa Street, Seventh or Ninth streets and Hill Street. The council approved the environmental report for this loop without assessing a possible extension to Grand Avenue, which could be considered in the future.
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Boosters say ridership could reach 6,000 people per day. Huizar's office says the expected cash from Measure M would help close the last funding gap for the $282 million streetcar system. The nonprofit Los Angeles Streetcar Inc. is managing the project.
"Language was included in Measure M that allows the Metro Board to move up projects currently slated for future decades, like the streetcar, that are otherwise shovel-ready and fully funded," according to Huizar's office.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the price tag of the streetcar project. The cost for planning and construction is $282 million, according to Huizar's office.