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Downtown Los Angeles streetcar prepares for environmental review

Downtown business and political leaders push to bring back L.A.'s streetcar.
Downtown business and political leaders push to bring back L.A.'s streetcar.
USC Digital Archive

The long-awaited Downtown Los Angeles streetcar project is another step closer to realization. The route has been finalized and will be presented to the Metro Board of Directors this week en route to beginning the environmental review process.

The approximately four-mile route, according to L.A. Downtown News, would travel south on Broadway from First Street to 11th Street, turn west to Figueroa Street and go north to Seventh Street. It would then head east on Seventh to Hill Street, and then north to First Street. The route would then turn west and head south on Grand Avenue, ending at Second Street, near MOCA.

“We are now focused on two primary issues,” said Project Coordinator Paul Habibi by phone. “Completing the environmental review, which generally takes 9 months to a year, and fundraising,” which Habibi adds will include private and federal funding.

While the initial route does not include a stop at Union Station (a popular proposal at early Metro meetings), Habibi said that doesn’t preclude such a stop being added in the future.

“It will link together a lot of the existing infrastructure, but it’s more of a traditional streetcar,” Habibi added. “I like to call it the ‘last-mile resort,’ a way for residents, commuters and tourists to efficiently get around the area. This is our pilot system. Other cities with similar pilot systems have been able to add more stops and destinations over time.”

 “I think it really does a lot for what the system is, and we have to start somewhere,” said Steve Needleman, owner of the Orpheum Theater, which sits on Broadway along the streetcar route, to the L.A. Downtown News. “This is the place to start and I’m firmly behind it.”