Orange County Branch Newsletter

April 2016

Transportation Technical Group

OC Street Car Project

by:  Dennis Mak, PE

On April 5, 2016, Mr. Jim Beil, Executive Director of Capital Programs with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), spoke to 65 transportation professionals and university students at UCI’s University Club, about the proposed OC Streetcar Project.

Special thanks to our lunch sponsor HNTB, and special guest Lori Donchak - OCTA Board of Directors Chair and San Clemente City Council member.

In addition, UCI student team members from the HyperXite team provided a brief overview of their Hyperloop development.  This presentation was hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Orange County Transportation Technical Group (ASCE TTG), as part of an ongoing series presenting topical projects and programs addressing regional transportation needs.

The Hyperloop development is touted as a future 5th mode of transportation.   As part of an international SpaceX competition, the HyperXite team is currently ranked 5th of over 100 entries.  The UCI student team is currently engaged in comprehensive design testing and construction of a half-scale Hyperloop pod.  The team is looking to close a current funding gap before the scale testing begins in Hawthorne in August ([url=][/url]).  The ASCE TTG presented the UCI HyperXite team with a surprise donation of $750 which directly helps the student team with parts purchasing for their scale model development.

To complement Orange County’s Metrolink service, passengers need a way to get to their final destination after getting off a train. Through Transit Extensions to Metrolink, a Measure M program intended to broaden the reach of Orange County’s backbone rail system to key employment, population, and activity centers, the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove developed a fixed guideway project that would address this need. 

After evaluating many alternatives and extensive outreach, a streetcar was chosen as the preferred alternative. Expected to begin operations in 2020, the OC Streetcar will link the bustling Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC), which provides regional rail, OCTA bus, and intercity and international bus services, to a new multimodal hub at Harbor Boulevard/Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove. Along the way, OC Streetcar will connect directly with 18 OCTA bus routes. OC Streetcar will serve the historic downtown Santa Ana and Civic Center which includes government offices, federal, state and local courthouses, unique restaurants and shops, an artists’ village, several colleges and a variety of community enrichment organizations.

OC Streetcar will increase transportation options and provide greater access along its 4.15-mile route (in each direction) along Santa Ana Boulevard, 4th Street, and the Pacific Electric right-of-way to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove.

Mr. Beil provided an overview of the project scope, funding plan, project team, and project schedule.  He also discussed some of the technical aspects of the project including the basis of design, risk assessment/value engineering, station locations, proposed track alignment and street design, and the Pacific Electric alignment and bridge crossing over the Santa Ana River.  Mr. Beil provided interesting details of the design of the Harbor Blvd station, streetcar maintenance and storage facility, traction power substations, and drainage design along the project.  Other details of the project discussed included the one contact wire vs. the 2 wire catenary design, utility coordination and utility strategy, safety and security plans, vehicle acquisition strategy, vehicle specification comparison, right of way, and various design improvements that are being assessed.

The final design of the OC Streetcar project is currently underway.  Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2018.  Testing and start-up is scheduled in June 2020 and revenue service is scheduled in December 2020.