The CenterLine light rail was a project ahead of its time when it was first proposed about ten years ago. That light rail route would have traversed Bristol street in Santa Ana and ultimately reached its two termini in Fullerton and Irvine. It would have served UC Irvine, Santa Ana Airport, Santa Ana College, Cal State Fullerton, and many points in between.
The project was not started back then, in part, because of Costa Mesa’s reluctance to have a light rail car running at-grade on Bristol. They wanted it to go underground upon reaching South Coast Plaza and this brought the cost of the project too high.
Now that Santa Ana is close to getting light rail along Santa Ana Blvd to serve the downtown and the train station, and now that the Bristol street widening is near completion, the city can think about putting the CenterLine back on the burner.
Ideally, most if not all of the CenterLine would run as a subway, but that would cost too much. Sadly, in Orange County there is no leader as progressive and aggressive about getting Federal transit money for light rail projects, no one like Antonio Villaraigosa, who’s lobbied much to get LA Metro federal funds.
A project like the CenterLine would need federal capital and enough boosters on board from all interested Orange County cities.
If I were in city business somewhere at City Hall I’d consider hiring Villaraigosa, now that he’ll no longer be LA Mayor, as a consultant to benefit from his network in Washington. He has experience lobbying specifically for these types of projects.
For more about the CenterLine click on the following links: