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Downtown LA streetcar project passes another milestone

A new multi-million dollar streetcar system for downtown Los Angeles has cleared another hurdle.

On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council unanimously approved the nearly 4-mile route for the proposed line, as well as the project’s environmental impact report.

The project would send streetcars on a 3.8-mile loop through the Civic Center, by the Convention Center and through the Fashion District.

Councilman Jose Huizar has championed the streetcar project as a part of his Bringing Back Broadway campaign to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor.

“The streetcar goes with the traffic, so it doesn’t really add to congestion on the street, but it actually may help!” Huizar told KPCC. “People will be more willing to ride the streetcar, hop on the streetcar, than to take their cars.”

One estimate puts the cost of the project at about $280 million. It would be funded by a combination of sales taxes, federal grants and support from the private sector.

In the past, funding sources for the project have been up in the air. But the passage of Measure M, a countywide sales tax that will fund billions of dollars in transportation projects, helped accelerate the streetcar project’s development. The measure’s language includes $200 million earmarked for the streetcar project.

The EIR, meanwhile, is an important step in the development process of major transportation projects. It outlines the ways a development can impact, either negatively or positively, the area around the proposed construction site.

If the streetcar wins final approval, construction could begin in 2018 and be completed in 2020.