Gold Line Extension ‘Divides’ Eastside

Arizona Avenue, Atlantic Boulevard now on the table.

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

Variations in the plan to extend Metro’s Gold Line Light Rail down two of the busiest streets in East Los Angeles would further divide a community that has for decades already shouldered more than its share of transportation projects in the region, eastside residents told Metro officials Tuesday.

“Every community must share the burden of traffic,” said Martha Hernandez, who last year advocated against a light rail being included in plans to alleviate traffic congestion between the 710 Long Beach and 210 freeways, from East Los Angeles to South Pasadena.

“East L.A. has no more land to share,” Hernandez said firmly.

Lea este artículo en Español: Línea Dorada ‘Divide’ al Este de Los Ángeles

The Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 project aims to extend the Gold Line east from where it currently ends at Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. The two alternatives Metro is considering include a light rail line along the SR-60 Pomona Freeway that ends in South El Monte, or a north-south connection to Washington Boulevard, which would then travel east with a final stop in the city of Whittier.

Both proposals are similar to the alternatives presented nearly two years ago to residents and the business community, but have now been tweaked to reflect comments received from the community and regulatory agencies, according to Eastside Phase 2 Project Manager Eugene Kim.

The SR-60 NSDV alternative would travel for 6.9 miles along the southern edge of the Pomona Freeway, transitioning briefly to the north side of the freeway, stopping at the Shops of Montebello before continuing on to its final stop on Peck

Road in the city of South El Monte. The cost for this plan is estimated at $1.3 billion.

The Washington Boulevard alternative now includes Arizona Avenue, Atlantic Boulevard and Garfield Avenue, three variations for the north-side connection to Washington Boulevard in the city of Commerce, with a potential stop at the Citadel Outlets. The route would travel 9.5 miles and is estimated to cost up to $1.7 billion.

Metro officials pointed out that unlike two years ago when an aerial rail line was proposed, an underground subway would be used for the new Garfield route.

Kim stressed that no determination has been made on whether the light rail would travel at grade, above grade or below ground in the Arizona and Atlantic variations.

Metro has hosted public meetings on the revised plans in East Los Angeles, Montebello and Whittier. An additional meeting will be held Thursday at the South El Monte Senior Center at 6pm.

On Tuesday, the Washington Boulevard alternative proved to be the most controversial for attendees at the meeting at the East Los Angeles Library. Many of the participants recalled how business suffered when the Gold Line was first extended to the eastside along 3rd Street.

To this day, many in the community to this day say the community and businesses have still not recovered.

“Our businesses will suffer, our kids will suffer while Montebello or Commerce benefit,” complained East L.A. resident Raul Daniel Rubalcaba.

Meeting participants, from East L.A., South El Monte, Montebello, Pico Rivera and other areas were broken up into small groups where they discussed possible benefits and their concerns for each of the alternatives.

A Gold Line light rail train arrives at the Atlantic Station in East Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A Gold Line light rail train arrives at the Atlantic Station in East Los Angeles. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

What came across loud and clear Tuesday, was East L.A. residents do not want a light rail that travels above ground.

“If a subway is good enough for the people on the Westside, it’s good enough for us,” said Clara Solis.

Most cited the loss of business among their greatest concern.

“We don’t want to transport our customers to the Citadel or The Shops at Montebello,” said Eddie Torres, the owner of a sign company and member of the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

If the Washington Alternative moves forward, argued Torres, the Citadel and Commerce Casino  would be the winners in the long-run, while eastside residents, forced to live through the construction, traffic and noise would be negatively impacted for the rest of their lives.

“I’ll be dammed if I help send business their way on my grass,” Torres said.
Ben Cardenas, president of the Montebello Unified School District and assistant city manager for the city of Pico Rivera, told residents at his table that the community should really be advocating for both alternatives, something Metro is also considering.

“The goal is to bring mass transit” to the area, said Cardenas. “The bottom line is, are we willing to compromise short term for a long term benefit?”

He said another light rail could bring a new tax base to the eastside community, but only if riders get off and shop.

“These streets are already congested, the alternatives would just kill business,” countered Lily Hernandez.

Opponents of the SR-60 alternative pointed out the list of regulatory agencies that could complicate efforts to move forward. The SR-60 alternative travels near the EPA Superfund site, Southern California Edison transmission lines and near a flood control basin at Whittier Narrows. The north side variation could prevent any plans for widening the Pomona Freeway in the future, they argued.
Nothing has been set in stone, representatives for Sup. Hilda Solis and Metro assured residents.

“Before recommitting to an environmental process we want to get feedback from the community again,” Kim explained.

Kim told EGP the agency has allocated $1.7 billion in Measure R funds for the project. He said the board is looking to allocate additional funds if voters approve a new transit sales tax in November.

Rubalcaba pointed out that when the Montebello residents and business owners complained two years ago that an above grade or at grade route would devastate their community, Metro listened and came back with a less intrusive option. He told the East L.A. residents in the room it was their turn to unite and demand what they want instead of allowing transportation projects to divide their community any further.

“Our grandparents may have let it go, our parents were too busy raising us, but this is where we draw the line.”

—-

Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

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March 31, 2016  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

One Response to “Gold Line Extension ‘Divides’ Eastside”

  1. CALIFORNIA TAX PUBLICATIONS 2017 on April 3rd, 2016 11:49 pm

    […] Line Extension 'Divides' Eastside The SR-60 various travels close to the EPA Superfund website, Southern California Edison transmission strains and close to a flood management basin at Whittier Narrows. The north aspect variation might forestall any plans for widening the Pomona Freeway sooner or later …. Read full article on EGP News […]

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