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The plan to revive streetcar service in Downtown Los Angeles has taken another step forward, with the release of the project's draft environmental impact report (DEIR).

The proposed streetcar would run along an approximately 3.8-mile loop through the heart of Downtown, connecting a number of destinations and neighborhoods such as the Wilshire Grand, L.A. Live, the Civic Center, the Historic Core, the Broad Museum, M.O.C.A. and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

According to the DEIR, four potential routes are under study, as well as the mandatory "No Build," alternative.

Alternative 2: 7th Street with Grand Avenue Extension

"[Service] would begin on Grand Avenue north of 2nd Street...then continue northward until turning east on 1st Street.  From 1st Street, the streetcar would turn south on Broadway, traveling to 11th Street where it would turn west and continue on to Figueroa Street.  The streetcar would then turn north on Figueroa Street and travel to 7th Street, where it would turn east.  From 7th Street, the streetcar would turn north on Hill Street, then continue back to 1st Street, completing the circuit by turning west on 1st Street to return to the streetcar stop on Grand Avenue."  

Alternative 3: 7th Street without Grand Avenue Extension

"Alternative 3 would follow the same alignment as Alternative 2, with the exception that the Grand Avenue extension would not be incorporated....Hill and 1st Streets would be the terminal point, rather than Grand Avenue north of 2nd Street."  

Alternative 4: 9th Street with Grand Avenue Extension

"The 9th Street with Grand Avenue Extension Alternative would follow the same alignment as [Alternative 2], but would run eastbound on 9th Street between Figueroa Street and Hill Street, rather than 7th Street."

Alternative 5: 9th Street without Grand Avenue Extension

"Alternative 5 would follow the same alignment as Alternative 3, but it would run eastbound on 9th Street between Figueroa Street and Hill Street, rather than 7th Street."

Each alternative would also include modifications to all streets along the 3.8-mile route, including ongoing upgrades such as the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, the MyFigueroa Streetscape Project, and the 7th Street Improvement Project.

Maintenance Storage Facility

The DEIR identifies four potential sites for a maintenance storage facility for streetcar vehicles:

  • Southwest corner of 11th and Olive Streets
  • Southeast corner of 11th and Olive Streets
  • Northwest corner of Hill and 5th Streets
  • West side of Broadway between 2nd and 3rd Streets

The two sites on 11th Street are owned by a joint venture between Mack Urban and AECOM, which has tentative plans to build apartments on both properties.  The Hill Street property is owned by MacFarlane Partners, which has proposed a high-rise and mid-rise development known as Park Fifth.

Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI), the organization responsible for managing the project, has previously announced its intent to explore public-private partnerships to generate additional funding for the streetcar.  This may include incorporating the maintenance facility into a larger development.

The proposed streetcar has been dogged by ongoing questions about its budget, which has grown from an estimated $125 million to $281.6 million.  However, the latter figure is inflated by mandatory contingency fees incorporated into cost estimates.

Although swelling cost estimates had previously threatened the streetcar's ability to compete for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration's Small Starts program, a recent decision has since raised the maximum budget for eligible projects from $250 million to $300 million.  Additionally, the maximum grant through the program has also been raised from $75 million to $100 million.

The budget shortfall could be also resolved by an upcoming November ballot initiative from Metro, which has proposed $200 million in funding for the project.

Construction of the streetcar could last approximately two years.  Previous estimates had expected operations to begin by 2020.

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