Transportation

What does Trump’s budget mean for Sacramento’s planned streetcar line?

Watch streetcars roll along Sacramento streets in the 1940s

These downtown scenes show streetcar operations of the Sacramento City Lines in a circa 1946 educational documentary.
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These downtown scenes show streetcar operations of the Sacramento City Lines in a circa 1946 educational documentary.

Sacramento and a handful of cities across the country want federal funding to help build streetcar lines. President Donald Trump is not on board.

In his budget proposal this week, the president said he wants to eliminate federal matching funds for any streetcar project that does not have a signed agreement with the Federal Transit Administration.

It is uncertain what effect that proposal, if approved by Congress, would have on Sacramento’s proposed $200 million streetcar project.

The Sacramento line, which would run in downtown and in West Sacramento, recently won a $50 million congressional funding allocation, but local officials have not yet signed a grant agreement with the FTA. Local officials say they expect to sign that agreement this fall.

Sacramento congresswoman Doris Matsui, a streetcar project leader, issued a statement Wednesday expressing disappointment in Trump’s proposal, but said the issue is up for discussion. Congress, which will put out its own budget proposal, has supported streetcar funding.

“While it is disappointing that President Trump’s budget proposes to cut transit construction funding across the country, it is important to remember that Congress sets federal appropriation levels,” Matsui wrote in an email to The Bee. “The fact that we secured $50 million in federal funds for the streetcar earlier this month demonstrates that this project has momentum. I will continue to fight to secure additional federal funding for the Streetcar as Congress puts together a funding package for 2018.”

Trump, in his budget synopsis, said cities who want streetcars should fund them with local money only.

The president also proposed eliminating federal funding support for long-distance Amtrak trains.

“Amtrak’s long distance trains do not serve a vital transportation purpose, and are a vestige of when train service was the only viable transcontinental transportation option,” the Trump administration wrote in its budget proposal, which was published Tuesday.

The president, however, did propose continuing federal funding for shorter-distance Amtrak trains that have state support. The Sacramento and Bay Area-based Capitol Corridor passenger train service is a shorter distance Amtrak service with state support.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak

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