Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) construction crews are nearly finished with a weeklong excavation project for the county’s first streetcar track in Santa Ana, California.
OCTA media relations specialist Eric Carpenter told The Epoch Times that crews have been preparing to lay down a bed for the project’s 4-mile westbound track installation. The project has kept downtown’s Bristol Street closed to through traffic between First Street and Civic Center Drive since Dec. 4.
The crews were scheduled to pour concrete on Dec. 10 before opening the following morning at 5 a.m., depending on the progress of the work.
“Construction is being completed around the clock during the Bristol closure to expedite the work and reopen it to traffic as soon as possible,” Carpenter said in an email.
The current closures are a precursor to setting the first segments of track for the OC Streetcar, a "major milestone" according to OCTA. The segments have been pulled into the project zone throughout the week.
“Track has been pulled into the project site and is expected to begin being set later this month,” Carpenter said.
When completed, the OC Streetcar will operate on a 4.1 mile route between Santa Ana and Garden Grove.
“When the current work at Santa Ana Boulevard and Bristol Street is complete, it will allow for track to be set in the ground west of Bristol toward Raitt Street. Similar work will be done in the eastbound direction early next year, which will require a similar closure period,” Carpenter said.
The OCTA outreach team works to inform the community of construction updates and hopes to minimize disruptions to the public, he said, adding that additional future closures will be necessary.
“We appreciate the patience of nearby residents and business owners and look forward to sharing the benefits of this project once complete,” said Carpenter. “We encourage people interested in getting the latest updates to sign up for the free OC Streetcar app, which has route maps and schedule updates.”
The route will serve Santa Ana’s downtown population, including the county and local government offices and courthouses in the Civic Center. The streetcar will also have a transit stop at Harbor Boulevard and Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove, running along Santa Ana Boulevard, Fourth Street, and the Pacific Electric right-of-way.
Carpenter said OCTA urged Walsh Construction, the contractor hired to build the track, to expedite the recent closure process, hoping to minimize its impact on travel during the holiday season. Walsh Construction was awarded the contract in 2018 by OCTA and the City of Santa Ana, following a competitive bidding process.
Construction on the project began in early 2019, and testing and operations of the system are expected to begin in late 2022, according to Carpenter.
“The entire project is expected to cost approximately $408 million,” he said.