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LA Streetcar project inches forward; begins environmental review

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012, at 12:47PM
Eric Richardson

A modern style streetcar rounds the corner in Seattle in this picture.

The Downtown LA streetcar project is slowly moving forward with an environmental review of two possible Downtown routes.

The more than $100 million project will span four-miles and serve a large cross-section of neighborhoods, from Bunker Hill to South Park, Historic Broadway and L.A. Live.

One proposed route will snake south down Broadway between 1st and 11th streets, then head west to Figueroa, north to 7th Street, east to Hill and end on 1st Street. There are slight variations on this system that are also being considered in the review.

"This route will connect Downtown transit, neighborhoods and destinations while boosting the local economy through Downtown," said Councilman José Huizar in a statement. "Thousands of people a day will be delivered right to the businesses, offices and cultural destinations they want to reach."

According to Huizar's office, more than 500,000 people come to Downtown everyday for work and 50,000 people have made it their home. This number is up from 10,000 Downtown residents a decade ago.

To accommodate the residential, professional and tourist population Downtown, the streetcar would run seven days a week for 18 hours a day.

The entire project appears to be running at least a year behind schedule, according to the projected timeline on LAStreetcar.org. The construction phase was supposed to begin in 2012 and last for two years. Instead, the official environmental review process is just beginning.

The Downtown streetcar is an older idea but really began to gain speed in 2008 after Bringing Back Broadway was announced. A nonprofit called LA Streetcar Inc. was created, redevelopment funds secured and a workshops held to discuss contemporary needs for public transportation.

While exact designs for the streetcar are still in the works, it's expected to encompass a sleek, modern appearance similar to those of other major U.S. cities like Portland and Seattle.

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