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CRA Board Approves $5 Million for Streetcar

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, October 02, 2008, at 01:14PM
With Traffic Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A streetcar travels with traffic through Portland's Pearl District.

The Downtown streetcar got its first big infusion of cash today, as the Commissioners of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) unanimously voted to approve a budget that allocates $5 million toward the project.

CRA staff also presented the board with a potential budget and proposed funding sources for the project, which is estimated to cost $90 million and could be up and running in 2014.

Commissioners were surprised to find the streetcar appropriation buried in the attachments on the budget item, which was a lengthy report documenting how carryover funds would be allocated. After eight public comments in favor of approving the project, Commissioner Alejandro Ortiz said he hadn't been prepared to see the item, but was pleased. "I'm absolutely thrilled to be a part of this effort," Ortiz said.

Project backers are currently in the process of forming Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc., a non-profit that would design and build the line. Though preliminary, the CRA-prepared numbers give a solid estimate of the scope of the project. The largest single budget item is for track and infrastructure improvements, which are estimated at $20.6 million. Operating expenses are estimated at $4.9 million per year, with property owners funding $1.2 million of that through an assessment district.

Speaking in support of the streetcar item were Bringing Back Broadway Executive Director Jessica Wethington Mclean, broker Ed Rosenthal, Jim Atkins (formerly with the South Group), Orpheum owner Steve Needleman, Tara Jones of National Preservation Partners, Fashion District BID head Kent Smith, myself, and Historic Downtown BID head Russell Brown.

CRA Downtown Regional Administrator David Riccitiello told the commissioners that a small portion of the money would be used up front to prepare grant applications seeking additional funds for the project, but that most of the money would be held until the non-profit was up and running and the effort was ready to go.

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Downtown Streetcar

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