Thursday, December 19, 2013

URS hired to aid LA Streetcar project

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Los Angeles' Downtown Streetcar project, recently beset by cost concerns and pushback from some anti-rail quarters, has hired URS to restore momentum to the proposed project.

In a press release, LA Councilman Jose Huizar, a streetcar supporter, says the hire will help proponents determine a project timeline, resolve utility relocation conflicts,and provide cost estimates for construction. Most current estimates range between $150 million and $160 million. At least one estimates of $300 million has been claimed.

LPA modifiedHuizar noted San Francisco-based URS assisted with streetcar implementation in Portland, Ore., and Seattle.

Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. General Counsel Shiraz Tangri said a more accurate estimate of utility costs should be available by early next year. He noted the utility cost estimates by some are high because alternatives have not yet been determined.

"They're based on the cost of if we had to do really substantial utility relocation where we're relocating water lines and other major utilities all throughout the route," Tangri told local media.

Disputes between cities and local utilities over such relocation efforts, and covering the costs for such moves, has been common in other U.S. cities considering streetcar projects, including Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

The proposed line would link LA's South Park and Bunker Hill neighborhoods, with LA's Department of Transportation operating the line.