"The FTA just green-lighted us to enter project development," West Sacramento Mayor Chris Cabaldon told local California media Tuesday, May 6, 2014, addressing them in Washington, D.C. "We are now officially a federal project."
The development mitigates previous unsuccessful attempts by West Sacramento to secure federal funds for the project. No FTA funding has been pledged yet, but FTA's willingness to assist the project is viewed as a major positive development.
Defying national election trends concerning taxes, West Sacramento voters in 2008 approved a local tax specifically aimed to establish an initial 1.2-mile streetcar line to link the municipality with the state capital and with existing light rail transit service overseen by Sacramento Regional Transit District. The line as currently envisioned would run from West Sacramento City Hall down West Capitol Avenue, over the Tower Bridge, and terminate near Old Sacramento.
Sacramento city officials later joined in the effort for a streetcar line; local partners now also include the Yolo County Transportation District and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). In a letter to SACOG Tuesday, the FTA instructed the local entities to choose a preferred route for the streetcar and conduct an environmental review of the project, as well as come up with costs estimates and a financial plan.
The project in part aims to serve as an economic development tool for both downtown Sacramento and the West Sacramento riverfront.