A motion calling for further study of possible Arts District stations for the Red/Purple Line in downtown Los Angeles will be considered by the Metro Board of Directors this month. The motion is above; pdf for download and printing here. The motion is authored by a trio of Metro Board Members: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Hilda Solis and L.A. Council Member Mike Bonin.
Obviously this has been an issue that has received a lot of buzz in the past few years as the Arts District has continued its revival with new developments. There are also 20 more projects in the pipeline — which could potentially bring thousands more residents to the neighborhood.
Some background that may be helpful:
•The final station on the Red/Purple Line subway is Union Station. But the tracks continue east and south beyond Union Station and emerge above ground to a storage and maintenance yard for subway cars along the Los Angeles River (it’s called Division 20). This is the only storage and maintenance yard for the subway and must accommodate Metro’s growing fleet of subway cars.
•As we discussed in this recent post, Metro is building a project that will allow subway trains at Union Station to turn around much more quickly. The project will speed up trips into and out of Union Station and also allow Metro to run subway trains as frequently as every two minutes into and out of Union Station. That project, Metro has said, will not preclude an Arts District station or stations.
•The challenge in this part of town is that the Division 20 is constrained when it comes to space. On the west side, there is Santa Fe Avenue, which has industrial, residential and commercial buildings. On the east side of the yard are tracks used by Metrolink, Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) and the Los Angeles River. That railroad corridor in the future may also have to accommodate Link Union Station (a project to build run-through tracks to Union Station) and high-speed rail tracks.
The balancing act here is to preserve space for the turnback facility, as well as space to store and service a growing fleet of subway cars in Division 20 and then to find space for revenue service tracks leading to a station platform(s). These are big issues and the study will take a close look at them.
Some additional contextual information that you may also find helpful:
•A project with both Measure R and Measure M funding is the West Santa Branch Corridor, which is a proposed light rail line between Union Station and Artesia. An early technical study for that project identified possible routes that could serve the Arts District. More about that project here. I mention this project just so stakeholders know that it is in the works along with the subway effort and because this project is lesser known than the subway.
•As many readers know, the Gold Line currently has a Little Tokyo/Arts District Station on the northeast corner of 1st and Alameda — which is basically on the north side of the Arts District. The Regional Connector project is moving that station underground and to the western side of Alameda. The Connector is tying together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines and trains on all those lines will use the 1st/Central Station in the future. Obviously that’s not the same as a station in the heart of the Arts District, but it does mean getting to the northern part of the district will be easier in the future via Metro’s light rail lines.
Something else that I think is worth mentioning: It’s refreshing to write about a project sought by YIMBYs (translation: yes in my backyard). A lot of downtown L.A. residents and stakeholders are engaged on this issue and the challenges involved — and that bodes well for finding a good solution for improving service to the Arts District. The study the motion calls for should help answer some of the more technical questions that I know people have and also take a deeper look at the funding issues. In the meantime, Metro will also be pursing the near-term improvements necessary to make the Purple Line Extension a success.
And a couple more views from Google Maps — the top image is the southern part of Divison 20, the bottom image is the norther half of the yard, including the portal to the subway tunnel.