Federal Transit Administration makes way for West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor Project federal funding

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved Metro’s request for entry into the Project Development Phase of the Capital Investment Grants Program for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor Project.

“I am pleased and thankful to the Biden Administration for advancing Metro’s West Santa Ana Branch project in the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts pipeline into the project development phase,” said Metro Board Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, representing the First District. “This is a critical step towards addressing disparities in communities across Downtown and Southeast Los Angeles, whom I had the honor of representing on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for seven years.”

“Many of these communities suffer from severe pollution burden and lack sustainable mobility options. Once the West Santa Ana Branch comes to fruition, Southeast Los Angeles residents will finally have direct and quick access to Downtown Los Angeles and the rest of the County, opening up access to more jobs, schools, and housing,” continued Supervisor Solis. “As the Chair of Metro’s Board of Directors, I remain committed to advancing this regionally significant project and all other projects like this that support the Administration’s Justice40 initiative.”

Funding from FTA is a key step toward making the project potentially eligible for federal funding. The 14.8-mile Slauson/A Line to Pioneer route was also approved as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the project’s initial segment between Artesia and Downtown Los Angeles.

“This is a big moment for the West Santa Ana Branch project. I appreciate our federal partners for working quickly and acknowledging this project is a priority not just for LA County, but for the nation,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Janice Hahn. “Our Southeast LA communities deserve high quality transit, and this milestone gets us one step closer.”

As the project enters the project development stage, Metro will retain eligibility as it completes the environmental review process, as well as engineering and design activities that the agency finds necessary. Once the environmental review process is complete, the FTA will extend the pre-award authority to project sponsors in project development to incur costs for engineering and design work necessary to develop a cost estimate, financial plan, utility relocation, and property acquisition.

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14 replies

  1. If “direct and quick access to Downtown” was the main intention, Metro made the wrong the decision to select Union Station instead of 8th/Flower as the terminus.

    • Seriously, its like a slower ride from one end of LOSSAN south to the other end.

      This was a good opportunity to get a line to serve the south east end of DTLA (fashion district & the east side of south park)…

  2. LA STEVE,
    MTA’s Offices are adjacent to Union Station so they believe they are the “Center of the Universe” and the center of Downtown Los Angeles. What I can’t believe is the plan to build tracks adjacent to the Blue Line tracks where they share the Long Beach Ave. right of way instead of sharing the track. The Amateurs at the MTA are unable to grasp the concept of an integrated Light Rail System and instead isolate the various lines from one another.

    • Fine

      The non-sharing of track is actually understandable. Taking into account the regional connector tracks, another line on the A/Blue track would have an impact on headways for all trains on the Long Beach/Pomona and Santa Monica/East LA lines.

    • It’s not that I don’t agree but you do know that’s how it works in other places correct? Actually better yet, let’s look at the current Blue/Expo configuration between Washington and 7th/Metro where both these lines share tracks.

      Pre-COVID, both the Blue/Expo Lines we’re running 6-8 min headways, that means that every 3-4 min a train was crossing through some point of this section of track. While I never expect a city of Tokyo, New York, or even a future Seattle to encounter issues. That’s not the Case in LA, where even just simple scenario of a train missing their green light, could cause a traffic jam on both lines from as far as Vermont on the Expo Line to as far as Slauson on the Blue Line creating a domino effect of delays. I DEFINITELY expect this to occur with the Santa Ana/Blue Line sharing tracks as well.

      So while I do agree that “The Amateurs at the MTA are unable to grasp the concept of an integrated Light Rail System and instead isolate the various lines from one another,” and believe me I do, it also makes sense to isolate both Lines in this case. It’s already done in other parts of the world with no issues. At Slauson, People on the Blue Line can transfer to the Santa Ana Line if their destination is NOT 7th/Metro, but rather Pasadena/Azusa/Montclair, East LA/Whittier or beyond with Amtrak/Metrolink, and likewise, people on the Santa Ana Line can transfer to the Blue Line for Santa Monica, North Hollywood, and Westwood.

      What is so stupid though is both patrons having to deal with the Green line instead of turning Slauson into the next great rail hub but having a rail line down Slauson to LAX via Union Station. That right there is the idiotic stunt I still don’t understand.

      • There’s no need for Blue line passengers transfer at Slauson unless they’re going south on the WSAB. Blue/A trains will continue all the way to Pomona (no transfer needed). If East LA bound passengers transferred tracks to WSAB, they’d have to transfer tracks again at a potential Little Tokyo station. It makes more sense to stay on Blue and do a same track transfer at any station on the regional connector.

        Keep in mind with the regional connector, Santa Monica/East LA trains will not go to Union Station.

        The at-grade mid-street Y connector at Washington limits capacity on the Blue/A and Expo lines. Fix that and the interlining discussion might be able to be considered.

        • “Pomona (no transfer needed)”

          Except, if the little Tokyo station is built for this line, then it would actually be faster to continue/transfer on the Santa Ana Line and then transfer to Little Tokyo to go to Pomona and East La as it’s a straight (and grade separated) line to Little Tokyo where you can bypass as many as 3 blue/expo line trains that have to turn west, go at grade along Washington plus traffic congestion at the Wye, and then yet another 5-7 min to go from Pico to Little Tokyo.

          So yeah, once blue line patrons realize it will be easier to do 2 transfers to get to Montclair and Whittier faster than having to take a 15-20 min detour (maybe longer if there’s an incident) just to keep that dirty seat warm, plenty of people will probably take advantage of that. A hassle? Sure. But for those that value time, a necessity.

          • Not sure you’re taking into account transfer time (especially not knowing the design of a potential Little Tokyo station and whether they put an escalator at Slauson) No guarantee that it would a stacked station like 7th|Metro. You also assume that a train would be there as soon as the rider got to both stations.

            In high likelihood, using your scenario, a rider might get off the train at Slauson just to get back on the same exact train again in Little Tokyo.

  3. Wait they went with Union Station? I knew they would make the stupid decision they always do. You know after looking at the map the more it looks like extending the Green Line (C) would have probably been a cheaper. Then again god forbid any of the lines be interchangeable.

  4. The only reason this project is going to Union Station instead of 7th Street and the heart of Downtown LA with the most vital connections for West Santa Ana riders is Metro Board member Janice Hahn. Her reasoning? She promised a rail line to Union Station three decades ago, before LA even had a rail system, so we have to do what she promised instead of what makes sense for transit riders and the transit system. Metro’s own ridership studies show 7th Street was the better connection but it looks like staff has once again been strong armed by a boardmember and is acquiescing to a purely political demand that has no rational or logical basis, and which performs worst.

    • You’re correct on the history/promises made on this line. If built as proposed, there’s no guarantee of single connection to the Santa Monica/East LA line. As a Little Tokyo station is listed as optional in the plan, riders from the southern points of this line wanting to go to Santa Monica or Culver City may have to connect two or more times (WSAB to A to E, backtracking at Pico or convoluted transfers via Crenshaw or Union Station.)

      Maybe Hahn is thinking the WSAB riders value connecting to Metrolink more than Metro? If that’s the case, she should be pushing for a Green line extension to Norwalk Metrolink.

      Getting a headache just thinking about this.

      • Exactly! Little Tokyo won’t allow yet another station built in their community (after almost 2 decades of construction so far for eastside and regional connector. So Hahn wants to build a north-south rail line that won’t even connect to the regional east-west rail line from Santa Monica to East LA/Whittier. You’ll have to transfer TWIcE just to go from north-south to east-west! Does Hahn care though? Of course not. She won’t actually have to ride or rely on the rail system, so instead she’s forcing Metro end it at Union Station, which is almost nobody’s actual destination!

        • Has the Little Tokyo community actually made any sort of threat to try to stop this project though? Yes, I know they don’t want it, but just haven’t heard too much noise in regards to that.

          Again, I definitely get why this route is not popular by any means, especially if Metro’s intentions is to simply built the line, clean their hands and say “okay we’re done” at the end and not redevelop the land around Uni. . . Oh wait, that’s EXACTLY what they are going to do aren’t they?

  5. At least this line is better than the Eastside Extension mess.