The Los Angeles City Council approved a report Friday that pushes completion of the downtown Los Angeles Streetcar back by seven months to July 2021 and acknowledges the project also lacks funding to meet the new deadline.
The planned streetcar would run in a loop from the Civic Center area where City Hall and other major government centers are located to the Convention Center, traveling through the Financial District and other downtown neighborhoods.
The project long has been in the works, and this is not the first delay, as it was estimated in 2013 the streetcar would be open for business in 2016.
The report from the Office of the City Administrative Officer, the Bureau of Engineering and the Department of Transportation outlines includes a new project cost estimate of $274.2 million, up from $250 million, with finance charges bringing the total to $290.7 million.
Before the report was approved by the Transportation Committee on Wednesday, Councilman Jose Huizar said he was optimistic the project was back on track.
“This report sets us on a path that I think we can get to finalizing this much-anticipated project,” said Huizar, whose 14th Council District includes much of the streetcar’s proposed route.
The project has $98.3 million in secured funding and the report notes that LADOT will be applying for a $100 million Small Starts grant from the Federal Transit Administration, although it is unclear if the city could get it because President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the upcoming federal fiscal year calls for an elimination of new applications for the grants.
According to the report, at least $200 million could come from Measure M funds, a county sales tax hike approved by voters last November, but the Measure M money isn’t available until 2053.
The council also approved a recommendation from the Transportation Committee that directs LADOT to begin the process of asking Metro to move up the schedule to release the funds early. Measure M includes a provision that allows funding to be accelerated with an amendment and approval by a two-thirds vote of the Metro Board of Directors.
The recommendation also says LADOT should not officially submit the request until the council receives a report from Metro on how the move could impact other projects.
Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who represents the northeast San Fernando Valley, said at the committee meeting she was concerned moving up the streetcar could mean projects in the Valley would get pushed back.
“We would not move on anything before we have the full analysis before us,” Huizar said.
Councilman Mike Bonin, a Metro board member, also said he believed Measure M had different pots of money and accelerating the streetcar would not likely impact the Valley or other geographic areas.
— City News Service