Sacramento’s planned downtown streetcar line got a boost from Gov. Jerry Brown this week, who included it on a list of 51 “critical” infrastructure projects California would like to see the Trump administration help fund.
Brown sent that list this week to the National Governors Association to be forwarded to Trump transportation officials for consideration.
Sacramento has won federal agreement, in principle, for a $75 million grant to help fund the project. But that approval came from the Obama administration. Sacramento officials say they expect the new administration to honor the agreement, and are talking about upping their grant request to $100 million this year. Trump officials have not yet offered details of their transportation spending priorities.
The streetcar line, which has been in the planning stages for a decade, would run through the Bridge District in West Sacramento and hit key spots around downtown Sacramento. Half the cost of the $150 million to $200 million project cost would be borne locally.
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Brown’s transportation agency secretary, Brian Kelly, said the governor put the streetcar on the list in hopes of pushing the project over the finish line this year. “It can be transformative for Sacramento,” he said. “We need to see that come to a conclusion.”
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, a key streetcar advocate, cheered the governor’s support. “Governor Brown and I agree on the statewide value of Sacramento’s streetcar project. Bringing streetcars back to our city will improve transit connectivity and spur economic development, which is a win for Sacramento, California, and our nation.”
The state’s funding request came days after Trump tweeted that California is out of control and that he might try to withhold federal funds from the state because of state leaders’ opposition to his immigration policies.
Asked about that, Kelly largely demurred, saying only that the state has had a good relationship with federal transportation officials in the past and that he expects that to continue under new U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
Matsui has contacted Chao to explain and pitch the streetcar proposal.
Brown’s infrastructure wish list also includes funding requests for several other local projects:
▪ Carpool lanes on Interstate 5 between Elk Grove and downtown Sacramento.
▪ Levees in Marysville.
▪ A Lower Elkhorn Basin levee project to expand capacity in the Yolo and Sacramento bypasses.
▪ Natomas Basin flood protection.
▪ Sacramento River levee rehabilitation work.