The downtown Los Angeles streetcar proposal sustained a setback as proponents lost their bid for $25 million in federal urban rail funds.

The Federal Transportation Administration has announced grants totaling $130 million for rail streetcars and busways that will go to six cities this year: Charlotte; Cincinnati; Dallas and Fort Worth; Chicago and St. Louis.

Los Angeles was one of 59 other cities that did not make the cut; others included Washington, D.C.; Raleigh, N.C. and Sacramento. The grants were announced on Thursday as the Business Journal was going to press with an article on the progress of the project that was published in today’s edition.

Federal funding is a crucial component for the $100 million downtown Los Angeles streetcar project, which would connect the cultural attractions of Grand Avenue with the historic theater district along Broadway and the sports and entertainment venues at L.A. Live.

The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency has committed $10 million toward the project. And three local business leaders – billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, shopping center magnate Rick Caruso and AEG/LA Live chief executive Tim Leiweke – are headlining a fundraiser that aims to raise about $1 million to complete the preliminary work on the project.

Backers had hoped to secure up to 50 percent of the funding from the federal government. The remainder would come from an assessment on property owners and other local and state government sources.

Downtown streetcar proponents say they will try for the next round of funding, when they expect to be further along in the environmental and planning process.

See a related Los Angeles Business Journal story.

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