Garden Grove

A new front door to the city’s future?

ARTISTS’ rendering of the Harbor Boulevard station of the planned OC Streetcar (OCTA image).

By Jim Tortolano

Back in 1905, a new era was introduced in Garden Grove when a rail depot opened just west of the busiest part of town. It transformed a village into a growing town, and was the community’s door to the rest of the world.

If all goes as planned, what’s now a city of 175,000 plus will get what could be a similar portal to the future in 2020 or 2021.

The OC Streetcar now under development to link Santa Ana to Garden Grove will have its western terminus at Harbor Boulevard, just north of Westminster Avenue.

According to Eric Carpenter of the Orange County Transportation Authority, passengers going from or to the “depot” – really an enhanced stop – will be able to use this facility to connect with two of the most heavily-used OCTA bus lines – Route 43 and Bravo Route 453.

All the stops along the 4.1-mile path will feature a raised platform for level boarding, a shade structure and seating area for passengers and a stationary route map, along with digital messaging to update passengers about streetcar scheduling and other information.

So what’s different about the Garden Grove location? Will it be anything like Union Station in L.A.?

Well, no. The stop will have dedicated parking for 46 vehicles so you can park your Toyota or Chevy and take the streetcar to any of the station stops eastward past the Willowick Golf Course – itself the subject of considerable development speculation – through Santa Ana’s downtown commercial district and on to the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, where you can jump on the Metrolink/Pacific Surfliner north to Los Angeles or south to San Diego.

The OCTA already has the land for the stop, “which will be located in the [former] Pacific Electric right-of-way,” according to Carpenter. “There had been a car wash business leasing the property.

“After that lease ran out, the building was demolished and is now a dirt lot where the stop will be built.” So might, more than a century later, a new era of rails and trains in community history.

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