Union Station community workshop on Thursday to provide more details of emerging master plan

The front entrance to Union Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The front entrance to Union Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The Union Station Master Plan team is holding a community workshop tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Our Cathedral of the Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles to discuss their latest work on the plan to improve the 74-year-old station. If you can’t make it, no reason to fret — the meeting will be live-streamed and also available for later viewing.

First, a bit of history for those new to the project. Metro purchased Union Station and about 40 acres of land from a private firm for about $70 million in 2011. The acquisition was important to Metro because it gives the agency control over the busiest transit hub in Southern California.

In May, the Union Station Master Plan team released diagrams of four alternatives for the Master Plan that seek to improve transit access and relieve crowding, better connect the station to surrounding neighborhoods and accommodate high-speed rail and future development on the site. Here’s a Source post that explains the alternatives.

We’ll have the full PowerPoint presentation that will be shown at Thursday’s meeting online tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d like to share a few nuggets that will likely be of interest to the many of you closely following this project:

•There are actually three ongoing projects involving Union Station.

In addition to the Master Plan, there is a study underway to improve signage and wayfinding at Union Station. All non-electronic signs are scheduled to be replaced by May 2014. New signs will share a more consistent design style, use more pictograms and be accessible across more languages.

The second study involves working with the city of Los Angeles to improve linkages between Union Station to downtown L.A. and surrounding neighborhoods. That’s important because Union Station is located on the far northern side of sprawling downtown and on the other side of the 101 freeway.

•In addition to those studies, Metro is also pursuing some other short-term improvements for Union Station such as upgrading and adding restrooms, leasing restaurant space and possibly turning the old ticket room at the front of the station into a marketplace with different vendors.

•While the Union Station Master Plan mostly involves what happens on the 40 acres including the station, a couple of the more interesting slides in the new presentation shows a concept to improve pedestrian access and provide more open space at the front of the station:

Alameda Plan

Illustrations credit: Metro.

Illustrations credit: Metro.

Of course, this is just a concept at this time and would involve working with other agencies and the city of Los Angeles. But it’s certainly intriguing!

•There is also some new graphics showing what an expanded passenger concourse providing more room for passengers may look like in the station, as well as maps showing sites that may be best-suited for any future development on the Union Station property.

Enjoy the meeting and we’ll post the new presentation on Thursday. And, of course, please feel free to post comments and questions on the blog.

Keep reading for the full press release from Metro:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today released refined concepts for the Union Station master plan that reflect public input to date and continued technical analysis for the evolution of the station as a transportation hub and an iconic destination.  A public meeting will be held tonight at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the current concepts and continue the public dialogue.   

The master plan team consisting of Metro, and Los Angeles-based Gruen Associates and Grimshaw Architects of New York and London, have refined the concepts with particular emphasis on earlier public input that dealt largely with proposed improvements to transit connections.  Key proposals being evaluated include the possibility of a new passenger concourse, a new terminal for all buses that serve Union Station, as well as improved accessibility through the station and connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ongoing public review and fine-tuning of the alternative concepts is part of a multi-phase process to create a master plan for the historic Union Station and its surrounding 47 acres in downtown Los Angeles.  The effort began with the selection of a Master Plan team in June 2012.  Since then, the team has been involved in data collection and technical studies, has solicited feedback from the community and other stakeholders and created four draft alternative plans.

“Union Station is the centerpiece for this planning process.  We will ensure that it is a world-class destination for Los Angeles now and into the future that can accommodate the growth of our transportation network and be an efficient and convenient hub for our passengers,” said Art Leahy, Metro Chief Executive Officer.

Community input is being incorporated into the four alternative concepts which were first presented at the May 2, 2013 community workshop.  These alternatives focus on transit operations, options for expanded bus operations, and a larger passenger concourse while leaving open the potential for additional heavy and light rail service in the future.

The alternatives satisfy near, medium and long-term goals and allow for the seamless integration of high speed rail at Union Station at some time in the future.  All of these concepts protect and enhance the historic station.  Development opportunities that take advantage of transit access and support a world-class transit facility will be explored more fully in the final Master Plan, which will be completed by Summer 2014.

“The Master Plan will be a guide that illustrates how the Union Station property should be used for transportation purposes, future development, and community activities.  The refined alternatives show optional approaches for a range of land uses.  From these options, one approach will be recommended and developed more fully. Community input will help us determine which approach should be recommended,” added Martha Welborne, Executive Director, Metro Countywide Planning.

Pedestrian and bicyclist circulation and connections to neighboring communities are a priority for the master plan but require study beyond the master plan’s boundaries.  To that end, Metro is conducting a study of pedestrian and bicycle linkages to and from Union Station, funded in part by a Caltrans grant and in collaboration with the Southern California Association of Governments and a number of Los Angeles City departments.  This “linkages” study will create a prioritized public improvement plan that will be closely coordinated with the final Union Station Master Plan and will completed at the same time as the Master Plan.

The public will next be invited to comment on the refined alternatives, as well as comment on a recommendation for a preferred alternative, at a workshop with the Metro Board of Directors on September 18 at 3:30 p.m.  Following this workshop, the Metro Board will be asked to adopt a preferred alternative for further development at its regular meeting in October.

For additional project information, visit www.metro.net/projects/LA-union-station/  or visit Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/launionstationmasterplan. Follow the project on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lausmp.

Note:  Tonight’s meeting will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Ballroom A/C, 555 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.  It will also be streamed live and can be accessed at  ustream.tv/channel/lausmp and will be recorded for later viewing.

5 replies

  1. I submitted the following e-mail comment to lausmp@metro.net. It may interest The Source readers as well:

    Having reviewed the August 1 Community Workshop Presentation slides for the Union Station Master Plan, I would like to comment on an aspect that may at first appear only tangentially related, but is in fact central to Union Station’s role as a transportation center. I am talking about access to Union Station by light rail, for the medium-term future.

    Starting in 2015, the Expo Line will connect downtown LA with a large part of the Westside. A few years later, the Downtown Connector will connect Little Tokyo with the Westside. But as transit and station options get built out, I would expect that many people passing through the “new” Union Station will be commuting to jobs on the Westside. So why not connect Union Station with the Westside?

    Thus far, Metro has been adamant that *no* light rail trains will travel directly through the Downtown Connector between Union Station and Santa Monica, and that a transfer will be needed. I cannot understand the logic for this. And while it may seem like a minor operational detail, it in fact relates fundamentally to the Union Station Master Plan discussion. The Master Plan will be successful if people use the station, and we all agree that its core use will remain as a transit hub. Can we not have an equally broad agreement that, in order for the maximize the success of the transit hub, we must maximize the ease with which people can reach their destinations?

    Please, let’s give some serious thought to increasing the impact of the Master Plan, by making it as convenient as possible for commuters to make their way from Union Station to the Westside in the medium-term future (i.e., long before the Wilshire subway extension is completed). If Metro could be open to the possibility of through-routing Expo Line trains from Union Station to Santa Monica, that would really enhance the relevance of this entire Master Plan discussion.

    • Hi Allon;

      Good point and I’ll pass it along to Metro staff. Thank you for reading and commenting,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Something that should be put in at union station is a small bike service station like this:

    It costs less almost $1000 but can be a great help to cyclists at union station. This is a small investment compared with most of metro’s projects. One of these was recently put in at PCC. It is great because people can easily go and get air and make adjustments to their bike to fix small problems that otherwise might leave them walking home. Also the customer service at gateway center should carry inner tubes in the most common sizes. The service station should be put in an area that is locked after hours and were security guards can keep an eye on it so that nobody breaks the pump or tries to steal the tools.

  3. Capping the 101 to make a park would be a good thing that would help to connect US with DTLA. Adding green space to DTLA is a good thing and even though it does not shortern the walk, makes it more enticing, because it will be more pleasent.

    Maybe Metro can work with CalTrans on a program to progressively cap freeways to make parks and greenspace. The City of LA could contrbute in the areas where the freeway is within the City. Areas to include: Hollywood (already discussed elsewhere), the 101 ‘slot’, the 110 through DTLA, the 110 south of Adams, the 5 south of the Goldline, 110 through South Pasadena, the 710 stub in Pasadena (only if there the tunnel is dug), and maybe there are other locations.

  4. I love the idea of closing off Los Angeles Street to reunify the park! At a minimum, that street should be shunted to the south of its current position, to allow the “raised pedestrian crosswalk” to replace the little crosswalks that currently exist.

    Alameda Street, El Pueblo and the current surface parking lot in front of Union Station should all be considered (for design purposes) a single “open-air concourse”, with each of these leveraging the other (sum is greater than the parts) and with all of them taking great advantage of the wonderful weather we enjoy here in Southern California.