UPDATE: The Board on Dec. 6 approved of these refinements. The Board also directed Metro to conduct a separate Feasibility Study for a potential station at the L.A. River and Rio Hondo confluence site in South Gate to determine whether to advance it into environmental review.
Planning continues to move forward for a light rail line to run between downtown Los Angeles and Artesia, a project known as the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor. The rail line has funding from Metro’s Measure R and M sales taxes, as well as from the state.
Metro staff has been working with stakeholders and cities to refine plans for the line and are asking the Metro Board of Directors to consider the following changes (staff report here) as part of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report:
•The Washington, Vernon and 183rd/Gridley stations will be removed from further study because they’re too close to other stations and have limited ridership potential. In the case of Washington and Vernon, the vast majority of transfers from the Blue Line will occur at Slauson Station.
•The rail line would run on aerial structure that would begin on the north side of the 10 freeway and continue south to Slauson Station — running alongside the Blue Line in this stretch.
•Five bridges over streets will be added to speed up the rail line and reduce car traffic impacts. Please see the project’s profile map below.
•For the Downtown Transit Core option that is under study, a station at Pershing Square will be removed from further study. The sole terminus for that option will now be Flower and 8th. That location is adjacent to the existing 7th/Metro Center Station and would serve as a better transfer point between this project, the Red/Purple Line subway and Metro’s light rail lines running to Azusa (and beyond), Long Beach, East L.A. and Santa Monica.
•The optional Bloomfield station in Cerritos will be removed from further study. A station at Pioneer Avenue in Artesia would serve better as a multi-modal transit hub.
•In response to a motion asking Metro to study the possibility of using four-car trains on this project, staff determined that three-car trains on this line would have enough capacity in the year 2042 to handle expected ridership if the underground Alameda option (Alternative E) is chosen for the project. Staff found that capacity would not be adequate for the Downtown Transit Core option but that it would be better and less expensive to offer extra trains in peak hours between Slauson and 7th/Metro than build four-car platforms.
•The Board will also consider a motion to add an optional station at the confluence of the L.A. River and the Rio Hondo in South Gate.
Metro staff have also revised the potential cost of the project upward to $6.5 billion to $6.6 billion. The Measure M spending plan has $4 billion available to build the project in two phases, with $1 billion available prior to 2028.
This project is also part of the Twenty-Eight by ’28 Initiative that seeks to complete 28 major projects in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Metro staff is currently studying ways the ’28 Plan could be funded and built. That includes possibly accelerating this project as a public-private partnership (P3). The private sector, however, must first have a better idea of what Metro wants to build — the main reason why it’s important to keep planning of this project on track.