Disputed Light Rail Proposal Wins a $2-Million Boost

From Staff and Wire Reports

Orange County's languishing CenterLine project received a financial shot in the arm Friday when Congress approved a national transportation funding package that earmarks $2 million for the light rail project.

The transportation bill would appropriate $59.7 billion for projects across the nation. The bill cleared both houses of Congress on Friday and is headed to the president for his signature.

The money set aside for CenterLine will be used for preliminary engineering, according to George Urch of the Orange County Transportation Authority.

The project, which would give Orange County its first light rail system and was initially proposed to run from Fullerton to Irvine, has struggled with opposition from certain host cities for years.

OCTA officials recently launched a new effort to build the rail line and are seeking to convince local officials that it's needed.

"We're planning it and we assume it's going to be built," Urch said. "This appropriation shows that the federal government sees the benefit of the project."

The system would cost $2.3 billion if was elevated above street level and $1.5 billion if it was built at ground level.

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