Draft Environmental Impact Study/Report released for West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor

UPDATE, Aug. 9: The public review and comment period has been extended through Tuesday, September 28. Comments can best be submitted via the following methods:

Metro has also added three new virtual community information sessions being held on August 16, 21, and 26 to provide an opportunity for a dialogue on the these topics: 1) Property acquisitions, the relocation process and timing, and; 2) Traffic, noise and safety.

These virtual meetings are meant to provide one-on-one dialogue and answer general questions. Official public comments will not be collected during these meetings.

Virtual Community Information Session #1: Property Acquisitions, Relocation Process and Timing
Monday, August 16th, 2021

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Zoom Link: tinyurl.com/hb9zw3ep

Call-In Number: 213.338.8477

Meeting ID: 833 4506 4455

Intérprete en español

Virtual Community Information Session #2: Traffic, Noise and Safety
Saturday, August 21st, 2021

10 a.m. to Noon

Zoom Link: tinyurl.com/y84rdaap

Call-In Number: 213.338.8477

Meeting ID: 996 2656 0726

Intérprete en español

Virtual Community Information Session #3: Property Acquisitions, Relocation Process and Timing
Thursday, August 26th, 2021

10 a.m. to Noon

Zoom Link: tinyurl.com/6y2up3nh

Call-In Number: 213.338.8477

Meeting ID: 872 5853 7996

Intérprete en español

***

Here’s the original post:

Metro has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (DEIS/R) for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor (WSAB) project, a planned light rail line that would connect southeast Los Angeles County to downtown Los Angeles. The entire report is available here.

This new rail line would run through or be adjacent to Artesia, Cerritos, Bellflower, Paramount, Downey, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park, Vernon, unincorporated Florence-Firestone and DTLA. The southernmost part of the rail line, south of Paramount, would be built along the old West Santa Ana Branch streetcar route on land that Metro acquired years ago and owns.

The DEIR/S released today looks at the project’s potential impacts including land acquisitions, transportation (i.e. traffic and parking) and noise — and potential mitigations for those impacts.

Metro is gathering public input over the next 45 days on the report with three virtual meetings scheduled in August. See below for details on how to attend, as well as info on how to submit your comments to Metro on the report.

There are four alternatives for the project’s route that are studied in the report — see the above map. Other key details on the alternatives from the report:

The Metro Board will ultimately select the route — known as the “locally preferred alternative” in government speak. Both federal and state environmental law recommends an agency select a preferred alternative and Metro staff at this time are recommending Alternative 3. After the DEIS/R is circulated, public comments will be analyzed by Metro staff to determine if Alternative 3 should be recommended to the Board as the Locally Preferred Alternative.

The Metro Board is made up of elected officials from across L.A. County and the Board can choose to modify the staff recommendation or select another alternative as the LPA if they decide that would best serve the public and meet the project’s purpose and need.

Metro has about $4 billion from Measure M — the sales tax approved by L.A. County voters in 2016 — and other sources to build the project to downtown and the agency is exploring whether the project could be built as a partnership between the public and private sectors. The updated cost estimates exceed Measure M funding.

Community members are encouraged to visit the project website (metro.net/wsab.net) to view, download and comment on the Draft EIS/EIR. A complete list of locations where the printed document can be found is also listed on the project website. The public review and comment period will extend from Friday, July 30, to Monday, September 13. Comments can be submitted via the following methods:

Please note that comments received outside of that 45-day timeframe are not considered “official comments,” but are still valuable for project development and will be reviewed by the project team.

Metro is committed to a comprehensive outreach program that provides project stakeholders with the necessary tools and resources to be educated and informed and provide valuable input at key milestones. To help support the Draft EIS/EIR, an online interactive tool has been developed to help understand the project, view the Draft EIS/EIR and maps and learn about the proposed alternatives. Visit MetroWSAB.com.

Here are the details on the virtual meetings:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Zoom Link: tinyurl.com/3f88s7hf

Call-In Number: 213.338.8477

Meeting ID: 980 0887 2988

Intérprete en español

日本語通訳

한국어 통역사

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Noon to 2 p.m.

Zoom Link: tinyurl.com/4asvr4pz

Call-In Number: 213.338.8477

Meeting ID: 986 2612 6175

Intérprete en español

Saturday, August 28, 2021

10 a.m. to Noon

Zoom Link: tinyurl.com/4df3b3rk 

Call-In Number: 213.338.8477

Meeting ID: 986 4545 5706

Intérprete en español

ADA accommodations and translations are available by calling 323.466.3876 or California Relay service at 711 at least 72 hours in advance. To learn more about the project visit the project website or call the helpline at 213.922.6262.

29 replies

  1. I prefer Alternative 2 which connects to 7th and Metro. Best route for current connections and future system extensions ( could connect Pico Union to the west and Echo Park, Glendale to the north). The station entrance at 8th and Figueroa is the where a high-rise is currently being constructed. I hope Metro is aware of that. That entrance would have to be integrated into the new high rise somehow.

  2. Alternate Three with no transfer but instead continuing on the Blue Line as an alternate route for that line.

    • It’s next to impossible to interline the Blue and Santa Ana lines. When the system is fully built, that would mean less service for riders from as far away as Long Beach, Santa Monica, Pomona and Whittier.

      A separate line eventually reaching downtown also allows for expansion north or west.

  3. The main problem with the staff recommended alternative #3 is dumping all those riders on an already over crowded Blue Line (pre-Covid of course) I could find nothing in the 1300+ pages on how that will be resolved. Maybe short turn back trains from Downtown to Slauson?

    To cut costs and simplify the design, make the WSAB and 105/Green Line station ” pedestrian transfer” only between the 2 lines. Cut parking and cut going into the nearby neighborhood. Gardendale station to the north should be where the parking is and to a lessor extent, Bellflower to the south.

    A massive tall bridge over the I-10 is ridiculous. You are already tunneling north of I-10, so why not south also?
    Since you are cutting out the Washington Station (another mistake), you can bring the line back to surface and then to elevated south of Washington Blvd.

    And now would be the time between Slauson and Washington to elevate /grade separate not just the WSAB, but the Blue Line as well.
    Create an elevated version of the famous 4 track right of way.

    While I still prefer the northern terminus to be Union Station, I will accept 8th / Flower IF those those tail tracks under the Harbor Freeway to the west will allow an extension to the north through City West, Temple/Beaudry, Echo Park and to Silver Lake in the future.

    If you do go to Union Station, it does look like both version have the tail tracks after the station in such a way you could continue the route underground a bit further to the existing Chinatown station area (another possible transfer) and then into the existing and now underutilized MidWay Yard for northern storage rather than taking all the cars back to Bellflower or Paramount. Also opens the possibility of extending this route to Glendale or Eagle Rock.

  4. “ Both federal and state environmental law recommends an agency select a preferred alternative and Metro staff at this time are recommending Alternative 3. After the DEIS/R is circulated, public comments will be analyzed by Metro staff to determine if Alternative 3 should be recommended to the Board as the Locally Preferred Alternative.”

    So in other words, Metro is dead set on voting for this alternative (which is still half baked), but the only reason why Metro is gonna waste time and money to receive our feedback is because by law the agency is because the Feds are requiring to do so? Am I getting this right?

    • Hi Dave;

      This is the Metro staff recommendation for now. The Metro Board of Directors may, pun intended, decide to go another route. I can’t stress enough: if you have an opinion about this project and the draft study, please please please submit a public comment. I always appreciate comments on the blog, but it’s not part of the official public record. So please take time to submit a comment — all the info on how to submit is in the blog post.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Always send the comments the official way as well. To be honest, I was actually surprised to receive an official letter in the mail regarding this specific project, which was a bit odd. Thank you for the response.

  5. Loved reading (what I could of) this – there’s a lot in 1,358 pgs!

    I’m personally really excited for this line, as it brings Metro just that much closer to the LA/OC county line. Those of us who are used to driving up to Willow or Wardlow in Long Beach to then catch a (sure-to-be-delayed-in-DTLA) A Line would love to have another option using a separate track entirely.

    Three thoughts:

    1. For a moment, I enjoyed imagining another rail line connecting at Union Station, but in all reality, I know that the majority of passengers on this new line would prefer to go ***straight to 7th/Metro Center*** (Alternative 2 please!), with connections to A B D E Lines instead of just A B D on the NE edge of downtown. Knowing that you can just make one easy transfer to the E Line to Santa Monica sounds just amazing – but having to make two transfers (one at LAUS to A or B/D, and a second at 7MC to E), is really unappealing. Even if the option to transfer at Little Tokyo is made, it requires exiting one underground station, walking a block, and entering another underground station, and even then, you’re backtracking from this line to the E to go westbound.

    2. Aside from the better connectivity and easier transfers, the second huge reason to go with Alternative 2 is that we finally have a station in the Fashion District. One of my earliest memories of riding the (then) Blue Line was to go to Santee Alley with family, but that required quite a hike from 7MC or Pico, a walk that we would not do anymore in our older age. But a line that takes us directly to the Fashion District with a station at Santee Alley itself would be a game-changer. This is a much-needed station, and only is possible in Alternative 2.

    3. This is more unrelated from the other points – I’m just really confused about the station at Gardendale. With a station just 3000 ft to the south (for the C Line transfer), and with no parking planned, no bus connections, no transit-oriented developments proposed, and no major attractions at that intersection, I’m confused as to why there’s a station planned here and NOT further north at Imperial/Garfield, where there are businesses, industries, major bus connections, etc.?

    • Hi Sameer;

      Anyone who can get through a majority of the pages is to be commended. Not exactly a beach read. Completely unrelated if any of you are looking for a good beach read, I highly recommend “The Plot.” Good page turner. Or wait for paperback and save it for future ride on this train 🙂

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. No write up for the LAFC Tap cards? I got one at Hollywood & Highland, when I was reloading my tap card!

  7. I am told the Joint Gateway Cities-Westside Central Service Councils Special Meeting on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 6 p.m. is an additional opportunity to see a staff presentation and comment on the documents.

  8. Alternative 4 should be rejected. If the line can’t make it to downtown LA, at least it should make it to one of the lines that go to downtown LA.

  9. A lot to digest in 1358 pages. It still seems like we have no cohesive vision for what downtown’s transit should look like. Alternative 3 – basically make it a branch off the blue line – is the only one that makes any sense to me. Spending an extra five billion to build a subway under warehouses and Skid Row doesn’t add much usability to the system.

    I love me some Greyhound but whoever thought Alameda/7th needs a full subway station should probably give up the transit planning business. It’s not a pretty area but maybe just sit there at McDonalds for a few minutes and look at the vast stretches of parking lots and cold storage facilities and wonder why a subway station would work well there.

    If the 9.6 billion is burning a hole in our pockets then use half for the Randolph spur and use the rest to fix the disaster that is the blue line downtown. Grade-separate along Washington Blvd. and Flower St. and build somewhere to stash a few extra trains since we’re building the Regional Connector to be obsolete the day it opens.

    • Hi Thomas;

      All fair points. I think the one ‘x’ factor at Alameda/7th is the amount of development planned in the area, “planned” being the key word. I know in the Before Times there was a lot of talk about new housing in that area. How much of that shakes out remains to be seen and I agree it takes a lot of imagination to see 7th/Alameda in a different light. That said, I was recently at Highland Park Brewery’s patio on Spring Street in DTLA looking at the state park, Gold Line, new housing (with more on the way) and thinking about the aerial tram to the ballpark that could be part of scene. All this stuff was built in the past decade (including the brewery) and shows things can change. So maybe that part of DTLA at 7th/Alameda looks very different in the future. But predicting future is hard, as you know 🙂

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve
        If we’re really looking at potential development in that section of the Arts district, wouldn’t the stronger (and less costly) option be the long-discussed Red/Purple (BD) Arts extension? Build that and the case for West Santa Ana to 8th/Fig is even stronger.

    • “I love me some Greyhound but whoever thought Alameda/7th needs a full subway station should probably give up the transit planning business. It’s not a pretty area but maybe just sit there at McDonalds for a few minutes and look at the vast stretches of parking lots and cold storage facilities and wonder why a subway station would work well there.”

      I don’t think anyone is claiming that there is a huge population living in that part of Downtown, but it certainly is a major employment center, currently served by absolutely no rail access. On p. 123 of the Draft EIR/EIS (Figure 1-3), we can see that the Warehouse/Industrial District (that pretty diamond shape SW of the label for “Arts District”) is given the color for highest employment density, with Produce Row and all the industries/suppliers located SW of the planned station. That’s using 2017 numbers, before the development of ROW DTLA and other current uses of warehouses directly adjacent to the planned station, and we can expect even higher numbers given all the future development planned for that corner and the larger district.

      To me it makes a lot of sense to have a station in this highly underserved area, weaving transit-orientation into the neighborhood as it changes and grows.

  10. No update on the Rio Hondo Confluence Station? If that project is deemed feasible, will it be folded into this project’s construction, or will it stay seperate throughout consturction ala 96th/LAX?

    • Hi Adam;

      Here’s what the draft study says about that station:

      This study is being conducted separately, but in parallel with the WSAB EIS/EIR. It will build upon and utilize the environmental analysis from the WSAB Draft EIS/EIR. Findings from the study shall be presented to the Metro Board at the conclusion of the WSAB environmental process. At that time, the Metro Board shall determine if the potential station is to advance into a separate environmental phase.

      We don’t know exactly when the feasibility study it will be completed and released — but will push out when it’s ready.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. It’s waste to parallel the Blue Line. Why duplicate the same route when there’s an opportunity to expand the network to new stations? Instead, it should continue North on Downey Rd to Olympic Blvd where it has the choice of going West on Olympic Blvd to link with a Red Line station or continue towards Lorena St to a Gold Line station. This will bring in new riders and entry points.

    • Not trying to be offensive here but have you traveled overseas before? I strongly suggest you google the Yamanote Line and tell me that something like that wouldn’t work here in LA.

      Actually, screw going international, this line will be grade separated the ENTIRE WAY to Downtown from Slauson, eliminating transfers and providing a faster bypass to the everlasting Blue and Expo Line Delays downtown. That is the reason why this NEEDS to duplicate the Blue Line.

      People hate transfers. Yes, they are inevitable, but if this thing is going to suddenly end at Slauson with no future proposals to extend it to LAX or Glendale and Burbank via Downtown like the Original Yellow Line proposal, then keep this thing going into Downtown and enough with the third world transit system we have to continue tolerating.

  12. Good analysis. I agree completely on taking the opportunity to four-track the blue line except I would go all the way to 7th/Metro. The I-10 bridge is puzzling too since you’re essentially building a bridge over your own dedicated ROW. It was a last-minute pivot so maybe there is some pressing reason that we’re missing.

    • From the Draft EIR/EIS (p. 141, Table 2.1), it looks like that’s because in the original plan (at-grade on the ROW under the 10), there would be street crossings at 15th St & at 16th St, and Metro determined that those would be too disruptive to street traffic. Putting that whole section on elevated or underground track would be better alternatives, of which, from what I understand, elevated is always a lot cheaper wherever it’s at all possible.

      • Metro decided 15th & 16th St. crossings would be disruptive to traffic? The same Metro that runs the blue line down the street across ten major arterials and a freeway on-ramp?

        There is no traffic there. There isn’t even a street light at either intersection. Drove by at 4:30 pm today and I was the only car at either intersection. Completely desolate.

        So Expo/Barrington (where EIR said intersection delay would improve after construction!) and Crenshaw/Slauson (14 combined lanes of traffic) – no grade separation; 15th/LB Ave. (4-way stop sign with the occasional motorist) – 1/4 mile long bridge over twelve lanes of already-elevated freeway traffic. Got it.

        • Yah it’s really perplexing how that was calculated, and I’d love to learn more about it. The comparison with Crenshaw/Slauson is really apt.

          (To be fair, given that the A Line was designed in such a different era, I’m sure it would not be anything like that if they built it today. The comparisons with the E and K Lines are spot-on though.)

  13. This Line is Flawed…

    It will get you to the Southeast Corner of L.A. County, but won’t Serve Direct or Connect Nearby to Bus Connections.

    1. With Pioneer Station, it Bypasses the Cerritos Mall & Two Neighboring Shopping Centers to the West.

    2.With Belflower Station, it Bypasses Lakewood Bl & Line 266 Which Provides a Connection to LBT 111 at Lakewood Mall Going to L.B. Airport, but will Connect to LBT 90 Series & Norwalk Transit #1, as well as Restructured Metro 127 & 128, No Station at Lakewood Bl.

    3. With The I-105 Station, the Proposed K Line that will Operate alone E/O of Rosa Parks, Replacing the C Line to Norwalk Station in the Future, would have to be Shut Down for at Least 2 Years to Build a Station at that Location, having Metro Operate a Shuttle from Norwalk & Lakewood Station to Long Beach Station.

    The Good Part is Metro would also Redo & OVERHAUL Norwalk & Lakewood Stations & Tracks & Signals while that Section is Shut Down E/O Long Beach Blvd.

    3. With Gardendale Station, what is around that Area for Business & Metro would have to Reroute the 117 & 120 to Serve Gardendale Station, I can’t Understand why you can’t have a Imperial Station where you Have Rancho Los Amigo Nearby & the Juvenile Hall, it make no sense to put a Station at Gardendale, is South Gate City Officials Responsible for this to have a Station to Nowhere at Gardendale?

    4. From Slauson to Downtown, Mainly to Downtown L.A. I don’t even know where to Begin?

    5. Where does Union Pacific Stand at because they still have Freight Traffic along the Proposed Route & what Impact would they have, Very Little has been Talked about Union Pacific’s Role & how they would Operate along the Proposed Line?

    If they can Build Line as Far as Slauson or Washington & Opened up in Time for the 28 Olympics, that would be a Godsend!

    • 1) Blame Metro because they insist on building parking over simply buying land at the mall for a park & ride.

      2) That was my initial thought as well, but bus service can be rerouted

      3) the existence of Gardendale station is ALL politics. It’s in Downey so now they can say that the city of Downey has a Metro station (yeah, stupid isn’t it?).

      4) I think people are not seeing this as an opportunity to create a circular line Downtown and this will serve as a bypass for the slow crawling Blue Line in Downtown and it’s everlasting delays.

      5) ehh, can’t really speak on that subject personally.

      I mean if Alternative means that it can only be build to Washington in time for the Olympics, that’s fine, but that’s not the appropriate dead end for this line at all and needs to be extended either to LAX via Harbor Subdivision or North Hollywood via Glendale and Burbank.

    • It seems as if Metro really forgot about buses. All these stations have parking for cars but no bus bays or layover area. They can fit 316 parking spaces at the I-105 transfer station but they can’t fit any bus bays for their own buses or Long Beach Transit buses. Shouldn’t this i-105 station become a major hub like Willowbrook?

  14. Is this project still considered for a P3? Given the growing price tag is that even feasible now?

    • Hi Jerard;

      Yes, but not a done deal by any means. From the project fact sheet:

      Metro is evaluating the feasibility and potential benefits of delivering the WSAB project through a Public-Private Partnership (P3) program. P3s do not provide additional funding but may enhance financial capacity to advance construction in certain cases, along with other potential benefits to the project. Metro is engaging with the P3 industry to explore options to enhance financial capacity in order to advance construction of the full corridor.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source