The city has temporarily halted work on the proposed 8.1-mile people-mover system after learning that the city lacks a sufficient economic base to support it and that it would cost more than three times the initial $200-million construction estimate.
However, consultants hired by the city told council members in a Tuesday workshop that such a system was needed to cut traffic congestion, encourage regional mobility and link Anaheim's major tourist and convention destinations. The people mover envisioned by Anaheim consists of small cars that carry four to six people along an elevated track.
The consultants said construction of the $755-million system, though, would largely depend on whether the Walt Disney Co. elects to build its proposed $3-billion resort in Anaheim or the city finds alternatives for future economic development.
"What's required to make this work is an economic engine," said Craig Miller, a vice president with Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. and consultant on the project. "An announcement by Disney would provide a very strong economic base."
Disney officials have said they would decide by the end of the month whether they will build in Anaheim or in Long Beach, where the entertainment company has plans for a separate $3-billion resort.
Still, consultants and city staffers found that even with a favorable decision from Disney, construction of an inner-city rail plan would be only "marginally feasible."
"The important finding is that this system is needed and warranted in Anaheim," said Greg Trombley, the city's administrative services coordinator. "What we're looking for is a major triggering device. Disney is one device. . . . It could be a short wait or it could be a long wait."
In addition to Disney, other economic "triggers" identified by the consultants and city staff members that could possibly support rail system construction included: increased development of the Anaheim Stadium area; construction of a proposed Orange County six-city elevated rail system that would connect with the Anaheim system, and a major development in the city's commercial/recreation zone near Disneyland.
According to the city's plan, the people-mover project would connect Disneyland, the Convention Center complex, Anaheim Stadium, sports arena, major hotels and a proposed regional transportation center.
Original estimates put the cost of such a project at more than $200 million, but Trombley said the $755-million projection presented Tuesday was a "maximum."
Trombley and the consultants said initial estimates often don't include costs for project maintenance, relocation of city utility lines and other "intangibles."