The Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan team is releasing its draft alternatives today for improving the venerable station as a transit center. Among some of the proposals (shown above) are replacing the parking lots in front of the station with open space, building a new bus terminal to handle most of the considerable bus traffic at the station and possibly replacing the current transit plaza at the rear of the station with other structures and/or green space.
While all the alternatives will work without high-speed rail, they each offer a variety of ways that high-speed rail could access the station, including configurations in which the tracks are above the current platform, below grade at both the east and west of the current Union Station and running through the current city of Los Angeles Piper Tech facility.
All four of the alternatives and much more will be discussed by Metro officials at a community meeting Thursday (May 2) from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo at the intersection of Central and 1st streets. The meeting will be live streamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lausmp and will be recorded for later viewing.
Here’s a Q&A I put together on today’s news that covers the basics.
What do all the alternatives have in common?
That the historic Los Angeles Union Station built in 1939 is preserved and remains at the center of transit operations. The idea is to embellish the station so that it works as the region’s transit hub for many decades to come while better connecting it to the surrounding neighborhoods — i.e. Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the Arts District, the Civic Center and Boyle Heights. While the details are not developed yet at this stage, all of the alternatives will create improved pedestrian and bike pathways, including a bike lane through the site.
Union Station is already serving about 10 times the number of people it did after opening in 1939. The expansion of Metro Rail, increased bus service and plans for high-speed rail make it extremely likely that Union Station will only get more crowded if nothing is done.
Do the alternatives propose building designs?
No, that comes later. The alternatives released today are concepts about where to put facilities and future development on the 47 acres of land (and in some cases beyond that) that Metro owns.
Of course, the design of any future buildings, open space and bike and pedestrian connections matter a lot — the devil is always in the details. At this point of the master plan process, however, Metro is first trying to determine where to put everything transit-related. In its current configuration, bus and rail operations at Union Station are widely dispersed. For example, there are five different locations where local and regional buses stop, leading to some confusion among riders and a lot of walking.