OC Streetcar Rolls into Final Design Phase with FTA’s OK

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OC Streetcar Rolls into Final Design Phase with FTA’s OK

ORANGE – Plans for Orange County’s first modern streetcar took another major step forward Wednesday when the Federal Transit Administration issued a letter announcing its support for the project to officially enter the engineering phase.

The letter signals the federal government’s continued support of the project and that the Orange County Transportation Authority remains on track meeting the extensive requirements of the FTA’s New Starts program.

The FTA’s current review of the OC Streetcar project focused on ridership projections and benefits to the community, as well as OCTA’s financial commitment to the streetcar project and the agency’s ability to build and operate it.

The engineering phase is the final stage before OCTA seeks a full funding grant agreement from the FTA, which could fund up to half of the $298-million OC Streetcar that will run through the heart of the county, serving Santa Ana and Garden Grove.

Construction on the OC Streetcar is set to begin in 2018 with the start of testing and operations planned for 2020.

“Orange County is ready and eager to get its first streetcar and this is significant progress,” said OCTA Chair Michael Hennessey. “When the streetcar is up and running, it will help provide better options for people to get out of their cars and use public transportation, whether it’s to get to work, to school or to a business meeting.”

OCTA continues to work closely with FTA officials during each step of the planning process for the streetcar. Last year, the project entered into FTA’s New Starts program, and it got a major boost when $125 million for the OC Streetcar was included in the President’s 2017 fiscal budget.

Other funding is coming from the state, which has awarded the project $25.5 million in cap-and-trade funds, and from local sources, including Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

During the engineering phase, planners and engineers will make important determinations on the exact placement of tracks, stops and maintenance facilities and finalize the design for the streetcar. The final design will also include the relocation of existing utilities such as electrical and fiber-optic wiring, gas lines and water pipes and will determine how to best keep traffic flowing during construction.

Later this year, the OCTA board will consider purchasing the streetcars that will operate on the OC Streetcar tracks. A request for proposals was released last month for the eight streetcars that will be part of the system. April 28 is the deadline for firms to submit a proposal to provide the streetcars.

The OC Streetcar will operate on a 4.1-mile route from the busy Santa Ana train station, up Santa Ana Boulevard and Fourth Street and along the Pacific Electric right-of-way to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove.

The route will serve Santa Ana’s thriving downtown and important job centers that include county and local government offices and courthouses in the Civic Center. The OC Streetcar route will also connect with 18 of OCTA’s busiest bus routes and Metrolink commuter rail. It is expected to carry up to 7,500 passengers per day within its first year of operation.

Up to six streetcars at a time are planned to run along the route, stopping every 10 minutes during peak hours at 10 stations in each direction. Two streetcars will serve as spare vehicles.

For information on the project, visit www.OCstreetcar.com.

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