The Anaheim City Council Tuesday night approved a contract to build a nearly $127-million transportation hub known as the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center or ARTIC.
The approval caps a 10-year effort to move ahead with construction of the center, envisioned as a gateway to Orange County by its supporters. Construction is scheduled to begin in September with the opening in late 2014, according to a news release.
Members of the Anaheim City Council hailed the project as job-creator — the news release estimated as many as 5,000 — and a solution to congestion on the county’s highways. The center will connect buses, taxis and trains.
“It will provide deeper, stronger connectivity to this region,” said Councilwoman Lorri Galloway.
The project has faced staunch opposition from critics, who say its main terminal shell — 120 feet tall and covering 56,000 square feet — is an unnecessary use of taxpayer funds. They also argue that a major reason to build the project — to connect to high-speed rail — might never happen.
Of the project's $184.2-million total estimated cost, $68 million is for the main terminal, according to Orange County Transportation Authority documents.
However, the Orange County grand jury doesn’t share those concerns. The watchdog body investigated the project and found that the “iconic” structure would be a positive addition to Orange County's landscape and will lead to greater private investment.
The money to build the project will come from Measure M2, the countywide half-cent sales tax that funds transportation improvements, as well as from the state and federal governments.
While it has always been billed as a project that Anaheim wouldn’t have to pay for, the city is spending $32.5 million to purchase the land for the project and settle a months-long dispute.
The money to buy the land came from the city’s share of Measure M2 revenue, typically dedicated to maintaining city streets. City Manager Bob Wingenroth said that the city will have to find “creative ways” to supplement street maintenance funds.