UPDATE: Two Metro Board Committees have sent this item without recommendation to the full Board for their consideration at their May 24 meeting.
At the Board’s Planning Committee, Metro CEO Phil Washington explained that there are two different tranches of money for the project to be built in two phases several years apart. He explained that Metro is hoping to secure a public-private partnership (PPP) to accelerate the project and build it all at once.
In order to do that, Washington asked that the Board keep this project’s studies moving along and that he will brief everyone on the PPP efforts at a later date. There was also considerable public testimony at both committees about routes and modes.
As soon as the webstreams of those meetings are posted to Metro’s website, I’ll post the links here.
Metro staff are recommending three potential routes to be studied further for the northern part of the Artesia-to-downtown Los Angeles light rail project known as the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor (WSAB).
The big decision to be made at a future date is selecting one of the routes as the “locally preferred alternative.” All three routes proposed for further study would have a station in the vicinity of Alameda and 7th streets to serve the Arts and Industrial districts in DTLA.
The Metro Board of Directors will consider the staff recommendation this month. Here’s the staff report. The next step is to continue to analyze potential routes as part of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report.
The three routes recommended — see the map above — are:
Concept E: Union Station via Alameda Underground
Concept F: Union Station via Alameda Underground/Center Aerial
Concept G: Downtown Transit Core Underground
Metro has identified a route for the project south of DTLA. From the north the line would follow the Blue Line to Slauson Station and then run along Randolph Street to Huntington Park and then use a pair of old rail right-of-ways to Artesia (the southernmost alignment was a streetcar line called the West Santa Ana Branch, thus the project’s name).
The northern part of the route has been more challenging. With concerns raised about construction and visual impacts for the original four northern routes (particularly in Little Tokyo), the Metro Board earlier this year approved looking at additional northern options. Community meetings were held this spring to gather more public input.
Staff are recommending the three routes above based on which best meet the project goals, technical analysis, feasibility and overall community/stakeholder support. If the Board approves the recommendation other route options would be eliminated from further study.
Three other points I’d like everyone to consider:
•The Measure M spending plan proposed building the project in two phases — with the first opening 2028-2030 and the second 2041-43. Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation is working to potentially accelerate building the entire WSAB project in one phase with a project delivery strategy from the private sector. Those arrangements are called public-private partnerships (PPPs). No deal is done yet — but there is definitely interest. Stay tuned.
•Some advocates have proposed this project be built as a heavy rail line — i.e. a rail line that can handle larger and longer trains similar to the Red/Purple Line subway. Staff determined that would cost $12.3 billion to $18.4 billion and be cost prohibitive. There is currently $4 billion in funding from Measures M and R and other sources.
•Each of the three recommended northern routes would result in an estimated total project cost higher than the currently available funding. Also, the cost estimates are expected to rise as the alternatives are refined and studied more intensively. As mentioned above, a PPP is a possibility. The environmental studies for the project will meet both state and federal requirements to make the project eligible for federal funding. A $300-million state grant was recommended for this project.
Metro staff will present their recommendations to the Metro Board’s Planning Committee at 2 p.m. on Wednesday (May 16) and at 10 a.m. to the Board’s Construction Committee on Thursday (May 17). The public is welcome to attend the meetings at Metro headquarters. You can also listen/watch the webstream. Links will appear on this page once each meeting begins. The full Metro Board is scheduled to consider the item at their May 24 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m at Metro HQ.
More about each recommended option from the staff report:
Concept E – Union Station via Alameda Underground
Description: Extends approximately 7.9 miles between LAUS and the Florence/Salt Lake Station along the Metro Blue Line and Alameda Street.
Ridership: It has estimated daily boardings of 81,000 of which includes an estimated 27,000 new riders.
Connectivity: This alignment allows for a direct connection to LAUS.
Cost Estimate: As a mostly underground alignment, Concept E has a preliminary capital cost of $5.8B (2017$).
Overall Evaluation: Concept E received an overall score of High and is recommended to move forward.
Other Factors: This option would provide a one seat ride to the west side of LAUS, providing transfer opportunities to Metro rail and bus and regional rail services. The alignment addresses community concerns expressed as part of the Scoping process. The alignment also includes an optional station at 1st/Central providing a connection to the Regional Connector future north/south and east/west connections. The alignment could serve an Arts District Station in the vicinity of Alameda and 7th Streets.
Concept F – Union Station via Alameda/Center:
Description: Extends approximately 8.1 miles between LAUS and the Florence/Salt Lake Station along the Metro Blue Line, Alameda Street and then Center Street.
Ridership: It has estimated daily boardings of 74,500 of which includes an estimated 26,000 new riders.
Connectivity: This alignment allows for a direct connection to LAUS and therefore one transfer to the future north-south line and regional rail services.
Cost Estimate: As a partially underground alignment, Concept F has a preliminary capital cost of $5.4B (2017$).
Overall Evaluation: Concept F received an overall score of Medium/High and is recommended to move forward.
Other Factors: This option would provide a one seat ride to LAUS, providing transfer opportunities to Metro rail and bus and regional rail services. The alignment addresses
community concerns expressed as part of the Scoping process; however, an aerial configuration would be required on Center Street to terminate at Platform 2. The alignment could serve an Arts District Station in the vicinity of Alameda and 7th Streets.
Concept G – Downtown Transit Core
Description: Extends approximately 8.0 miles between the Downtown Transit Core and the Florence/Salt Lake Station parallel to the Metro Blue Line then primarily under Alameda, 7th and 8th Streets.
Ridership: It has estimated daily boardings of 78,500 of which includes an estimated 25,000 new riders.
Connectivity: If the terminus allows for a connection to 7th/Metro Center, one transfer can be made to Red, Purple, North-South and East-West lines. If the terminus allows for a connection to Pershing Square, then two transfers are required to access the future North- South and East-West lines. Two transfers are needed to access regional rail services.
Cost Estimate: As a mostly underground alignment, Concept G has a preliminary capital cost of $5.8B (2017$).
Overall Evaluation: Concept G received an overall score of Medium/High and is recommended to move forward.
Other Factors: This option would support connectivity for emerging Transit Oriented Communities at South Park/Fashion District and the Arts District South Station, and provide access to very high population and employment densities. It best serves transit dependent/Environmental Justice communities. Extending WSAB to a potential 5th/Flower station at the Regional Connector creates significant problems in allowing for a station connection at Pershing Square. Therefore, this alignment does not allow for a future direct extension to a future 5th/Flower station.
I bet some of you may have opinions about this. Comment please!