Metro staff provides update on Eastside Gold Line

One of the key projects with funding from Metro’s M ballot measure is an extension of the Eastside Gold Line from its current terminus at Atlantic Avenue in East L.A. Studies thus far have focused on two routes — one on Washington Boulevard to Whittier and the other to South El Monte along the 60 freeway with a third combined option that would also allow trains to run between South El Monte and Whittier.

With more information now in hand from technical studies, Metro staff are providing a comprehensive update to residents and stakeholders. Staff are recommending: 

•Withdrawing the route along the 60 freeway to South El Monte and the combined (South El Monte-Whittier) routes from further consideration and focusing on building the Washington Boulevard alignment.

Technical studies found too many challenges with building a rail line along the 60, including steering tracks away from a Superfund site, not getting in the way of Caltrans planned widening of the 60, impacts to homes and environmentally sensitive areas and the lack of a large-enough site for a rail yard.

•Metro is proposing to launch a feasibility study to look at other short- and long-term transit options outside this project that might better serve the needs of the area and the southern San Gabriel Valley.

•To expedite environmental studies going forward, staff is proposing to continue the state-required part of the studies (known as CEQA) and dropping the federally-required part of the studies (known as NEPA). That would eliminate a federal review — which is time consuming — but also means that the project would not eligible for federal funding at this time. Metro does not see that as problematic given that there are other Metro projects that are more likely to be eligible for federal dollars anyway.

Some quick background: Measure M called for this project to be built in two phases with $6 billion in total funding. Under the Measure M spending plan, the first phase would begin construction in 2029 and be completed in 2035. The second phase would begin in 2053 and be done in 2057. The idea now is to focus on finishing the studies for the first phase on Washington and building that while using the separate feasibility study to determine what could be done now in the other corridor.

The Washington route includes a three mile-long tunnel (mostly under Atlantic Boulevard), as well as a station near the popular The Citadel shopping complex in Commerce. The route then follows busy Washington Boulevard with the train frequently traveling above the road on an aerial structure and or at-grade.

One other note: when Metro’s Regional Connector project is complete, trains from East Los Angeles will be able to travel directly to the heart of downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, meaning riders will no longer be required to transfer to the subway at Union Station. That will make for far faster rides for those on the Eastside Gold Line.

Metro staff are scheduled to take these recommendations to the Metro Board of Directors in February with the item first being heard in the Board’s Planning and Programming Committee on Feb. 19 at Metro HQ adjacent to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. That meeting will be live-streamed.

16 replies

  1. I am happy Metro is extending the line beyond East LA Civic Center station. However, I really hope that the new addition is subterranean or elevated railway. Otherwise the train will be a bus on rails creating more traffic on the surface streets (just look at the Expo Line). Metro should also consider the amount of vehicle to train collisions they will prevent.

  2. Extend the redline east to the el monte station along the center of the 10 freeway. It’s the most dense traffic congested artery thru the SGV and appeases the political and social demand. The metrolink can be rerouted along the mission road ROW and stations will serve dense walkable communities in boyle heights, alhambra, rosemead and el monte.

    • Red Line in freeway is no good for walking-passenger access.
      If anything after leaving downtown LA, the Red or Purple should hit the USC County Hospital, then Cal State LA, then head out Valley Blvd into Alhambra and beyond. Valley Blvd in the SGV is what Wilshire Blvd is to the Westside. Whittier Blvd would have been better, but that ship sailed.

      If they do build someday the ELA line out the 60 , it need to either connect to the Metrolink Riverside Line somewhere around the 60/605 area or curve it up to the EL Monte Bus Center.

  3. Steve I inquired about this previously. The Expo Line Yard is at capacity. With the addition of the Eastside Gold Line trains where are they going to service them and store them? Is the current Little Tokyo connection going to be maintained so the Old Gold Line yard can be used or is this another fiasco that will be dealt with after the new service is started like we saw when the Expo Line started service into Seventh and Flower Station?

    • A new maintenance yard would be built along the new alignment for the Eastside Gold Line. The location is TBD. The technical studies from 2017 looked at some sites in Commerce. Trains would not travel directly from the Eastside Gold Line to the Azusa Gold Line after the Regional Connector is built but as far as I know the Gold Line yard along the L.A. River will continue to be used.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. This is a great decision by staff and hopefully the Metro Board agrees – the Whittier route goes through a denser area and most importantly is not next to a freeway. Above all, I’m glad they are ditching the awful idea of running a line directly between South El Monte and Whittier.

    My only question – isn’t Metro required to someday build the South El Monte route as an extension of the Eastside Gold Line? The Measure M Expenditure Plan clearly states that “Gold Line Eastside Ext. Second Alignment” has about $2.9B allocated in Measure M funds. Are these funds being reallocated to “what can be done now” on the South El Monte corridor?

    If both lines are eventually built, how will the Regional Connector (and specifically the eastern wye near Little Tokyo) accommodate trains coming from Montclair, Whittier, AND South El Monte? Will we need another regional connector to deal with train congestion from so many overlapping lines?

  5. The line doesn’t go to Whittier as they didn’t support it. This line always should have come out of downtown as a subway down Whittier Blvd through Montebello, Pico Rivera and into Whittier being built in segments much like the Wilshire Line is today. Wilshire on the west of downtown and Whittier on the east of downtown would have been a major east/west line with nice balanced ridership on both sides.
    No matter where Metro takes the Eastside line, I worry that its ridership won’t match that of Expo on the West since the plan is to through-route this line.
    I am now glad they are dropping one of the lines and that awful and expense dual route with the wye. Lots of cost savings with dropping this.
    BUT, I agree with the other post, this line should be hitting the Montebello Metrolink/Bus Hub and large parking area after the Citadel stop and in fact, thats where this line should stop for the time being.
    Would seem after coming down Atlantic and making the Citadel stop, it could follow the UP line elevated to the Montebello Hub, then back underground to get back to Washington Route. Or why not back to Whittier Blvd and stay underground being built in segments.

  6. This rail line tragically misses Uptown Whittier. You should really consider fixing that. If you want people to ride transit it has to go to dense activity centers.

  7. This new route will have several nearby Metrolink redundancies. Is there any proposal for integration/transfer with Metrolink stations?

    • Hi Colin;

      There is not. I’m not sure they’re really redundant — Metrolink’s Riverside line is a long haul commuter train whereas the Eastside Gold Line is a local transit service with more frequent service for more hours of the day. Both rail lines will head into downtown L.A., a major job center. Also this: finding a route for our project has been challenging and trying to get this project to the Montebello Metrolink station would have meant diverting away from a corridor we thought was important to serve (Washington Blvd.).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. If the Gold Line reaches Whittier, it’s close enough to the Green Line at Norwalk. At some point, a new line should link up the Gold to the Green Lines and reach El Monte by going North and South along the 605 Freeway.

    • Hi Jonathan;

      Metro requires that each new rail line also have a rail yard so trains can be relatively near areas served — that helps us clean and maintain them while also having space for the number of rail vehicles needed.

      Also, Monrovia is distant from this project and keep in mind that the L Line (Gold) will operate very differently once the Regional Connector opens. At that time, there will no longer be East LA to Azusa service. Trains to/from East LA and Azusa will continue through downtown L.A. and then to Long Beach or Santa Monica (the Metro Board is scheduled to vote on an operating plan later this year).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source