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LA City Council Desires A Streetcar Named Downtown

LOS ANGELES (CBS) —  If the Los Angeles City Council has their way, a new streetcar system will create thousands of jobs and help revitalize downtown.

The Council agreed Friday to spend $1 million for the environmental and engineering phases of the proposal.

The desire for the streetcar is clearly there but is the cash?

"At a time when the city is undergoing one of the worst economic times in its history, when the unemployment rate is far too high and the industries in our city and everywhere are struggling, a modern, environmentally friendly streetcar will help create a better-connected, pedestrian-oriented downtown, bringing jobs, economic development and revitalization all around the route," Councilman Jose Huizar said.

The money will come from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 to pay for transportation projects. The Community Redevelopment Agency plans to spend an additional $10 million on the Downtown L.A. Streetcar project.

Proponents will also seek funds from the federal government and private sector, in hopes of starting construction in 2014. They intend to have the streetcar run seven days a week, 18 hours a day, and serve Bunker Hill, Grand Avenue and the Music Center, Historic Broadway and the Historic Core, South Park, L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Convention Center.

A recently released study by AECOM projected that an initial $125 million public-private investment in returning the streetcar to downtown would generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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