Meetings begin tonight to discuss latest news on Eastside Gold Line Phase 2 project

More work on the technical study for extending the Gold Line to South El Monte and Whittier has been completed and will be shared at community meetings that begin tonight. Much of the info to be discussed is in the above presentation.

Here’s the lineup:

A draft environmental study for the project was completed in 2014 but a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since then. First and foremost: Measure M was approved by Los Angeles County voters in November, meaning there is now funding in place to extend the Gold Line to both South El Monte or Whittier.

The Metro Board still must select which leg would be built first, but at least it’s no longer one area or the other (Measure R only had funding for one alignment). Under the Measure M spending plan, the first segment would be completed in 2035 and the second in 2057. Yeah, I know — that’s not easy to get a brain wrapped around. But as with other Measure M mega-projects, Metro is exploring ways to possibly accelerate some of them.

On this project, a technical study was launched in 2014 to help resolve some issues that came up during the draft EIR study and find solutions satisfactory to other government agencies involved. Two of the larger issues: how to get the train through a Superfund site along the 60 freeway en route to South El Monte and how to get the train to Washington Boulevard en route to Whittier?

As for the first issue, Metro continues to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Caltrans on how to best get the train through the site while preserving the option of widening the freeway at a later time.

On the Whittier segment, the Metro Board in 2014 eliminated the possibility of the train using an elevated structure to travel above Garfield Avenue in Montebello and unincorporated L.A. County — such a structure would have literally loomed over too many homes. Instead, Metro has looked at some other possibilities, including one that shows promise: an underground segment on Atlantic Boulevard that would run through Commerce on the way to Whittier and have a stop adjacent to the Citadel Outlets in the city of Commerce.

Another issue that has come forth: if both segments are built, how would that impact rail operations? After the Regional Connector is completed, Metro will operate one light rail line going between Santa Monica and East L.A. (and later South El Monte and Whittier) and another between Long Beach and Azusa (and later Claremont or Montclair). The plan is to run trains as often as every five minutes on those two lines.

Of course, if that line is split at Atlantic Station one day in the future, running trains every five minutes to both South El Monte and Whittier gets trickier. That’s why Metro is exploring is a junction at Atlantic Station that would also allow trains to run between South El Monte, Atlantic and Whittier. That would allow more frequent service on the new alignments.

After this round of community meetings, Metro staff plan to take the technical study to the Metro Board in April to address their concerns and get their approval of going ahead with more studies of these concepts.

If you would like us to come out and share information with your group, please contact Lilian De Loza-Gutierrez at 213.922.7479 or email us at eastsidephase2@metro.net.

10 replies

  1. Unfortunately, despite some grade separation, the Whittier leg overall looks to have way too much of a street-running emphasis due to the Washington segment. Travel times will be poor on this line even if signals are somehow optimized or even preempted for trains due to the 35 MPH max speed. And if present examples are an indication, performance will be even worse due to stopping at red lights. This will feel more like a long distance streetcar at this rate.

    It’s a shame that such a large portion of our metro rail system has this characteristic (i.e. expo phase 1, east side gold, blue line on both ends). Light rail CAN be just as fast as a normal metro/subway, albeit at lighter capacity, but not in this form, not with so much street-running. It’s just not very indicative of rapid transit, and so much of the existing east side line is already at street level with all of the above problems. I just hope metro phases out this type of design for future rail lines. It really isn’t a suitable design choice for such a large populated area like ours for the long term, especially given the distances, risk of accidents, and reluctance of municipalities to provide signal preemption.

    Imagine if the Chicago EL or the New York subway/EL had long segments where the top speed was 35 MPH and stopped intermittently between stations as part of its normal operation… yeah… But yet that’s essentially what’s being built here in LA and it’s time for that design to change.

    • Well, until Elon Musk figures out how to make tunneling almost free [lithium-ion batteries?], surface routes are going to be the rule.
      At least I know what I can ride when I am 80 years old.

      • Surface routes dont need to be so painful. The train carrying 300 people just needs to have priority over a half dozen cars with less than 10 people. LADOT seems to value said cars over the train, hence the problem.

        • That certainly would help but it isn’t even just LADOT that has this problem. Just look at Long Beach or the 3rd street segment of the gold line which is not in LA city and neither is this segment. Santa Monica is a bit better with priority/sync at least but still could be improved.

          In any case the Whittier leg should be extended further east to Santa Fe Springs Blvd. to get it that much closer to downtown Whittier. And hopefully more major intersections along Washington will have flyovers like what is shown at Rosemead Blvd.

      • Metro should reach out to Elon Musk to discuss a joint venture to build the Sepulveda Pass and 710 Tunnels.

      • Metro doesn’t service the OC. Anaheim and the OCT is planning to build a light rail from the Anaheim train station to Disneyland. You can take Metrolink to the OC from LA.

  2. How about a connection to the OC Metrolink line? The Commerce station is currently too far away. Either swing the southern leg down a bit or move the Metrolink station.

  3. before you extend the gold line, please make sure that the current route is enough to handle additional ridership and speed up the travel time, there’s too much street running on that route. Also the line should follow on Whittier Blvd instead of Washington Blvd, and NO MORE STREET RUNNING PLEASE. Comparing MBL line 10 and 50, you will see line 10 (runs on Whittier) has more frequent services and higher ridership than the line 50 does (runs on Washington).