Council OKs up to $352 million for downtown streetcar
The Los Angeles City Council approved up to $352 million Wednesday to maintain a streetcar that would run from the Civic Center to the Convention Center.
The line would run primarily along three of downtown's main arteries -- Broadway, Hill and Figueroa streets -- and connect various neighborhoods, including the old banking district, South Park, Civic Center and the fashion district.
The vote was a victory for the proposal's supporters, who have fought for years to begin laying tracks.
"We are rapidly moving from a city that focuses on how many cars we can move to one that asks how many people we can move, and what are the best ways to do that," Councilman Jose Huizar, who sponsored the motion, said in a statement.
Supporters have emphasized the trolley's potential to create economic growth in downtown, particularly along Broadway, where the city is working to revive old theaters and other historic buildings. Studies commissioned by the city have estimated that the streetcar could create 9,000 jobs over 25 years.
The funding approved Wednesday would cover repair and operational costs for the streetcar for three decades. The money will come from Measure R, the 2008 ballot measure that added a half-cent sales tax to fund county transportation projects, officials said.
The $125-million project will be built with no general fund money. Voters living where the streetcar would operate approved a special tax in December that will finance the public half of the construction.
Huizar will go to Washington, D.C., next week to ask federal officials for $75 million to finance the other half of the project.
The council also asked the Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Engineering to look into the possibility of a wireless streetcar, similar to trolleys in Bordeaux, France.
The line would run 18 hours a day, seven days a week. The proposed route would run along Broadway, 11th, Figueroa, 7th and Hill streets. The line is scheduled to open in 2016.
-- Laura J. Nelson