Orange County transit officials voted in late June to take over a streetcar project previously spearheaded by the city of Anaheim. The Orange County Transportation Authority’s vote to take over the Anaheim Rapid Connection streetcar project calls for the city to forward all planning work on the proposed line from Angel Stadium to Harbor Boulevard to the OCTA from now own.
The ARC project would be folded in the OCTA’s Central Harbor Boulevard Transit Corridor Study, which is analyzing transportation options to move people along the Harbor Boulevard area in northern and central Orange County.
For some members of the OCTA’s board, the decision marks the end of the streetcar project. The City of Anaheim has spent $9 million, much of it granted from the OCTA, to study options about how to best move people around the bustling hub of resorts and amusement parks before finally settling on the streetcar option in 2012.
OCTA board member Jeff Lalloway from Irvine called the project under Anaheim’s management a waste of taxpayers’ money. Putting the ARC project under the umbrella of the OCTA’s Harbor study provides a broader regional focus to what was previously just a local transportation initiative that was struggling to get off the ground.
Potential funding sources for the ARC project included revenue from the Measure M local sales tax, funds from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, the State Transportation Improvement Program, California’s Proposition 1A and 1B as well as the Anaheim Tourism Improvement District.
A number of board members and transit officials expressed their hope that the streetcar project does not go ahead, citing cost overruns and opposition from the local community. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who sits on the OCTA board, said the streetcar project, which the city began before he became mayor, was finally dead. Tait called streetcars 100-year-old technology, and said the city should look forward, not backward, to solve congestion problems.
County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said that moving the ARC project to OCTA’s control would allow the board to consider options other than just a streetcar and address the wider question of how to move people through the busy corridor, which includes Disneyland Resort, while reducing traffic congestion issues.
But not everybody is happy about the demise of the streetcar project. Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, a long-time proponent, said she does not consider the ARC project completely dead just yet. OCTA’s CEO, Darrell Johnson, said the agency’s goal is to look at all transportation options without any bias toward any one mode.
Anaheim resident Cynthia Ward said she was happy with the board’s vote, describing the streetcar project a boondoggle and for more oversight of the OCTA. The vote has yet to go to the Anaheim City Council, which will need to amend the agreement with the OCTA before the costly and long-delayed streetcar project is finally put to rest.
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