A man in a wheelchair was struck and killed by a train Monday evening, according to the OC Register, which also reported that “witnesses told investigators that the signals warning pedestrians and motorists about the incoming train had activated, and the man appeared to move underneath the arm meant to block the sidewalk.”
The fatal collision halted train traffic through the area, according to Metrolink’s official twitter feed. Buses were sent to the area in order to assist commuters.
With this horrible incident in mind, do we really want to move forward with the proposed Santa Ana Streetcar? There are currently four options for this proposed Streetcar under consideration, according to the City of Santa Ana:
- No Build Alternative – Developed for comparative purposes, the No Build Alternative depicts what would happen if only funded, committed and approved long-term projects go forward. Under this alternative, planned street improvements would be made and minor changes to some transit routes would be implemented. The projects in the No Build Alternative are included in each of the alternatives discussed below.
- Transportation System Management (TSM) Alternative – This is intended as a mechanism for exploring what can be achieved with low level investments. The TSM alternative includes bus service improvements along First Street, additional operating hours and an expanded service area for OCTA’s StationLink Route 462 (which operates between SARTC and Harbor Blvd. along Civic Center Dr. and Santa Ana Blvd.) It also includes improvements to intersections, traffic signals and bus stops throughout the study area.
- Streetcar 1 – A streetcar along Santa Ana Blvd. and 4th Street — See green line on the map below. Streetcar 1 proposes a new transit system that would operate primarily along Santa Ana Blvd. and the Pacific Electric Right-of Way (PEROW.) Between Mortimer and Ross St., it would operate westbound only on Santa Ana Blvd. and eastbound only on Fourth St. It would provide easy access to both the Civic Center and Downtown Santa Ana.
- Streetcar 2 – A streetcar along Santa Ana Boulevard, Civic Center Drive and 5th Street — See orange line in the map below. Streetcar 2 envisions a new transit system that would operate primarily along Santa Ana Blvd. and the Pacific Electric Right-of-Way (PEROW.) In the downtown/Civic Center area, it would operate westbound only on Civic Center Drive between Bush and Flower and eastbound only on Fifth Street between Ross and Minter. It would provide easy access to both the Civic Center and Downtown Santa Ana.
The proposed Santa Ana streetcar project would bring the under-used land that used to be part of the Pacific Electric Railway back to service as a dedicated path for the streetcar. The plan calls for a new bridge to carry the streetcar across the Santa Ana River. The new bridge would cross the river next to the historic Old Pacific Electric Santa Ana River Bridge, which Pulido said the city may one day restore and open to foot traffic. After crossing the river, the streetcar would continue its journey along the scenic edge of Willowick Golf Course and into a developing commercial area beyond, according to the OC Register.
The Environmental Impact Report is available for review here.
At the end of the study process, a locally preferred alternative will be recommended and adopted by Santa Ana and Garden Grove City Councils, and approved by OCTA. Based on the current project schedule and approach, the initial phase of the project will be under design in early 2013 and open for operations between the Station District and Bristol Street by 2017, according to Cordoba, the company hired by the City of Santa Ana to work on the streetcar planning and design.
A similar streetcar system has been proposed in the City of Anaheim, but check out what their Mayor, Tom Tait, has to say about that:
- When Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait pictures his city’s future after construction of a similar $320 million streetcar line linking the city’s new transportation center and the Disneyland Resort, he sees years of disruptive construction, traffic congestion, mostly empty streetcars, injured residents and a money pit residents cannot afford.
- Tait said he is concerned that streetcars put pedestrians, bicyclists and passengers at risk because they operate in regular traffic and cannot swerve or stop quickly. They would require about 200 feet to make an emergency stop from 35 mph, according to Tait’s calculations.
- “I don’t know that people have considered the stopping distance when we’ve talked about this streetcar,” Tait said. “I worry about somebody stepping out in front, or a car stopping in front, or just all the things that happen in traffic.”
And, according to the Orange County Register’s analysis of Federal Transportation Administration data for 2011, the most recent year of data available, streetcars had more collisions per vehicle mile traveled than any other mode of mass transit.
I agree with Mayor Tait. These streetcars are a terrible idea. They will cost a fortune to maintain, won’t attract enough riders, and won’t be flexible or adjustable. This is a scam being perpetrated by developers who want to make money off the land adjacent to the streetcar system and by the trade unions who want to build this boondoggle.