The Santa Ana Sentinel

West Santa Ana Transit Corridor Update

Posted in Progress Report by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on June 28, 2011

Garden Grove, CA. A community meeting was held at 12732 Main street in Garden Grove concerning the West Santa Ana Transit Corridor project currently being studied by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Southern California Association of Governments and the Orange County Transit Authority. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the general public of what transit options are being studied for the Pacific Electric Right of Way, and to take public input on the matter. For boards from the presentation, cick here.

There is a new development in the study process, which is the low-speed maglev alternative. This is an elevated rail option that was suggested as a potential alternative to a light rail, street car, bus rapid transit or a no build option. The maglev option is more expensive than the light rail and street car options, but is not as expensive as a below grade option, that is, a potential subway. A chart was shown indicating the cost of having a light rail operate below grade, to the price tag of over $10 billion USD.

The question arises as to whether or not it makes more sense to have a light rail option put in place at the Santa Ana side. So far, Santa Ana Transit Vision mentions that there will be a street car running along Santa Ana Blvd modeled after the ones in Portland, Oregon. The problem is that the street car operates at slower speeds and while this is acceptable for the City of Santa Ana in the short term, the long term goal is to connect to Los Angeles County and its Downtown. That means that a street car running at a maximum of 40 mph along the PE ROW is not an attractive option to transit riders that are traveling longer destinations.

The light rail option along the PE ROW at least goes a bit faster, to a maximum of 55 or 60 mph.

The completion of the potential light rail is dependent on federal funds for OCTA. The Santa Ana end is planned to be built in two phases, SARTC to Bristol street by 2015, then Bristol to Harbor Blvd. The rest of the rail development along the PE ROW after Harbor Blvd, at this point, is up in the air because it is dependent on federal funds and the political will to get those funds.

The ultimate long term goal is to connect LA and Santa Ana. LA Metro is probably waiting for the locally preferred alternative to be announced in Santa Ana in order to proceed, but given that Metro is investing heavily in light rail, it is probably safe to say that Metro wants and will push for a faster light rail option along the PE ROW versus a street car.

But this will be years down the line and after OCTA decides on laying track from the Orange County line of the PE ROW.

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