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LA Streetcar Not Among Winners Announced for 2011 TIGER Grants

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 10:24AM
L.A. Streetcar L.A. Streetcar / Metro

A rendering of the proposed L.A. Streetcar is shown next to a map of the proposed alignments to be advanced for study.

The L.A. Streetcar was one of 848 transportation projects nationwide to apply for funds from the Federal Transit Administration's third round of TIGER grants, but it will not be one of the 46 projects splitting $511 million in awarded funds.

The awards announced today include $37 million for Southern California, $20 million of which will go to improvements on the 91 freeway and $17 million of which will go to freight rail improvements in the Port of Long Beach.

While the effort to return a streetcar to Downtown would have gotten a big boost from a positive response, L.A. Streetcar director Dennis Allen said Thursday that the TIGER funds were never a make-or-break deal. The project had applied for $37.5 million.

"They're not necessarily part of our financing plans. We had always anticipated getting funding from the Small Starts program," he said. "It's not like it derails us."

The project hopes to eventually receive approximately half of its $125 million price tag from the federal government. That application will be made toward the end of 2012, once the environmental work currently being conducted by Metro is nearing its completion.

In the meantime, funding opportunities like the TIGER program give the project a chance to stay in front of federal planners and assess where it needs to improve.

Finalizing plans for the $50 to $60 million that the project intends to collect from property owners near the route is an important piece of that.

"Until we can get our local match together," Allen noted, "the FTA probably looks and asks 'How serious is L.A. Streetcar?'"

While many property owners have bought into the project's promise of increased property values and economic development, negotiations on how the assessment district should be set up and what it will fund are still ongoing.

Project backers hope to see the streetcar up and running in 2015. Plans call for a first line that connects L.A. Live and the Convention Center to Bunker Hill via the Broadway corridor.

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