One of the big transit challenges involving downtown L.A. is this: it’s big. Really big. Our downtown more or less runs from the 10 to the 101 and from the L.A. River to the 110 and could swallow whole the downtowns of many other cities.
To date, Metro Rail is mostly concentrated in the central part of downtown — i.e. DTLA’s western side. That is going to change. One of the Metro transit projects in the pipeline is a light rail line between Artesia and Union Station, also known as the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor Transit Project. While the route on the southern end is largely set (it uses old rail right-of-ways), the route on the northern end to/from Union Station is still to be determined.
But this much is known: the route will definitely serve the eastern half of DTLA, where there is no shortage of current and future development projects underway. The Metro Board of Directors this month will consider approving four possible routes — see the above maps — for study as part of the project’s formal environmental review, which will begin this year.
Six routes were identified in an earlier Technical Refinement Study. A new Northern Alignment Options Screening Report (the exec summary is posted below) by Metro took a deeper dive on those six and concluded that four of the routes warranted further study.
Two of the routes would run alongside the Blue Line — certainly an interesting notion. That could be helpful for riders on the Artesia line heading into the heart of DTLA. The two other routes would be further east and would connect to the Metro light rail system in Little Tokyo and the Arts District. (After the Regional Connector project is complete, there will be one light rail running between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles and another between Azusa and Long Beach).
The West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor has funding from Measure R and Measure M. The Measure M spending plan has the project breaking ground in fiscal year 2022. Metro is looking for ways to accelerate the project, including potential public-private partnerships.
What do you think of the project and the routes, readers? Pros and cons? Comment please.