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Downtown streetcar project glides forward with $291M construction budget

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The project received approval to go after some potential funding sources

Plans for a Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar leaped forward this week.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a funding plan Wednesday for the streetcar’s construction—expected to cost $291 million. The plan includes seeking out $100 million in a federal grant and asking Metro to give the project $200 million in Measure M revenue that’s earmarked for the streetcar but isn’t slated to be awarded until 2053.

Whether Metro can deliver the promised funds ahead of schedule could be yet another potential hurdle for the much-delayed project. Agency rules stipulate that funding can be accelerated only if it “does not delay or otherwise negatively impact other projects.”

Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose Downtown district includes the proposed streetcar route, says that including those Measure M funds—but not the federal grant—the project has $590 million in “committed funding” for building, operating, and maintaining the streetcar for 30 years.

The remaining $390 million comes from a variety of sources, including Measure R funds and a tax on Downtown business owners in the area around the streetcar.

“Downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of incredible growth, and we need to do all we can to prepare for that growth and our escalating transportation needs,” Huizar said in a statement last week.

The streetcar has been in the works for years, and was once expected to be complete in 2016. It’s now scheduled to open in 2021.