Santa Ana selects preferred streetcar route

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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By a 4-to-0 vote, the Santa Ana, Calif., City Council has chosen a proposed 4.1-mile streetcar route along the city's Fourth Street as a preferred option over a route along Fifth Street, citing existing foot traffic as a factor.

The council vote, taken Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, came despite near-immediate pushback from area residents and local businesses concerned about streetcar construction and loss of parking.

City officials see the Santa Ana line as an initial segment of a larger system linking with a similar streetcar proposed for nearby Anaheim, and eventually perhaps reaching beyond Orange County into neighboring Los Angeles County.

The proposed Santa Ana line is designed to connect the city’s downtown with its train station, served by Metrolink and Amtrak.

City officials acknowledge that assistance from the Orange County Transportation Authority will be needed, a problematic premise at best given past OCTA reluctance to strongly commit to passenger rail and urban rail transit options in the past. Local media report, however, that the majority of OCTA board members at present appear to support Santa Ana’s efforts.

Santa Ana also expects federal assistance. Both Santa Ana and Anaheim hope to acquire funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program.

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