FTA funds ID’d for (West) Sacramento streetcar

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding could cover half the $150 million projected cost of the proposed 3.3-mile West Sacramento streetcar, contingent, per standard, on matching funding from state, local, and/or other sources, and President Obama's proposed fiscal year 2016 budget includes funding that would enable just that.

Last May FTA officials expressed conceptual support for the proposed line, approved by West Sacramento, Calif., voters in November 2008 at the height of the Great Recession. But project backers long have sought federal funding support and, according to local officials and local media on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, have now received assurances of such aid.

Sacramento political and business leaders, including owners of the National Basketball Association Sacramento Kings, subsequently have thrown support behind the proposal to link the two municipalities by rail.

The line would run from West Sacramento points across Tower Bridge into Sacramento, the state capital, serving numerous business and retail neighborhoods as well as interfacing with Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail service and Amtrak intercity trains.

“Today’s federal budget news highlights that the Downtown Riverfront Streetcar project is becoming a reality,” Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) said in an emailed statement to the Sacramento Bee. “As the project continues, it is clear that the federal government intends to be a true equity partner.”

“This is a huge step in the right direction,” Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen said. “If we complete our local financing plan, it sounds like we will be able to achieve our federal match.”

Still to be addressed are several local funding mechanisms, including $30 million in construction funding that must be approved by roughly 900 property owners within three blocks of the proposed streetcar line. That vote is being conducted and will conclude later this month. Majority approval from registered voters within that zone must also be secured, though unlike the property owners individual voters are not required to provide financial support.

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