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$1 Million for Streetcar Project Up for Council Vote on Friday

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, at 04:54PM
LA Streetcar Rendering LA Streetcar Inc

Rendering of the proposed L.A. Streetcar project on Figueroa next to Staples Center

The L.A. Streetcar could take a small step forward on Friday as the City Council votes on $1 million in funding that would be applied to preliminary engineering and the project's final environmental documents.

Update (Friday): Voting on the $1 million for streetcar has been pushed back to March 18 voted on and approved. Our updated story is now online.

Funds would come from Measure R's Local Return, a piece of the half-cent sales tax passed by voters in November 2008. $8.7 million in unallocated 2010-2011 funds would be directed to specific projects under CF 10-0600-S49, the item that will come before the Council.

That item was continued last week after Councilman Jose Huizar made an amendment redirecting $1 million toward the streetcar project.

The move sparked an intense debate in the often-unanimous Council. Councilman Bernard Parks urged his colleagues to pass the item unamended and to send Huizar's request to the Transportation committee for discussion.

Huizar told the Council that the streetcar funds had been promised in the body's discussion of Measure R.

"We were promised that we should wait for the Local Return money," Huizar said in Council. "Here we are with the Local Return money, so I hope that we could move forward."

Councilman Tony Cardenas backed Huizar, saying that the entire list of projects should be sent back to committee if the amendment was not added.

"Let me warn you, when I look at the list of projects, I would love to make my arguments about what legitimate project-ready projects are in my part of the district," Cardenas said. "We're looking at $8.7 million on this list and it's shy of a million dollars being used for the entire San Fernando Valley."

In the end, the Council voted to continue the item one week in order to allow Transportation committee chair Bill Rosendahl to weigh in on Huizar's request.

The $1 million would be reprogrammed from items where staff has said the funds would not be spent in this fiscal year.

Councilman Tom LaBonge, who supported Huizar's amendment, asked that engineering staff be instructed to study streetcar systems that do not use overhead wires. He specifically pointed out the system in Bordeaux, France, which uses a third-rail system that supplies power only to the track segments underneath the train.

The streetcar project is estimated to cost $125 million. A recently-released economic study said that the project would generate $1.1 billion in new development and 2,100 permanent jobs.


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