For more than a year, Metro officials have been conducting technical studies to fine-tune two proposed alternatives for Phase 2 of the Gold Line Eastside Extension, including taking a closer look at what it would take to bring rail service to the City of Commerce.
Though there are talks that in the future both alternatives ¬– one along the SR-60 Pomona Freeway and the other traveling south to Washington Boulevard – could come to fruition, the City of Commerce is very interested in seeing the Washington alternative built first, Councilwoman Lilia R. Leon said during the Nov. 15 city council meeting.
A Gold Line connection to Washington Boulevard would create the opportunity for stops near the Citadel Outlets or Commerce Casino, the two largest revenue generators for the city.
“What we heard loud and clear was the idea of exploring a Metro connection to the Citadel,” said Eugene Kim, project manager for the Eastside Phase 2 Project.
The two alternatives up for discussion have not changed much since they were presented to the public in late March.
One possible alternative would extend the Gold Line 6.9 miles east – from where it currently ends at Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles – along the SR-60 Pomona Freeway and ending in South El Monte. The second alternative would travel nearly 9 miles, providing a north-south connection from Atlantic Boulevard to Washington Boulevard, before traveling east to the city of Whittier.
Metro plans to present the two refined alternatives to the public in spring 2017 and begin talking about reinitiating the environmental impact report process, according to Kim.
One of the biggest challenges Metro officials face however, is selecting a route to get to Washington Boulevard, says Kim.
Earlier this year, Metro identified Garfield Avenue, Atlantic Boulevard and Arizona Avenue as the three most promising routes for the connection. The two latter options would allow for a stop near the Citadel, but present challenges in the heavily congested area known as the Mixmaster, where Atlantic Boulevard crosses the I-5 Santa Ana Freeway.
“Commerce is a very important partner in identifying ways to make that connection,” Kim said.
Eastside residents and business owners have repeatedly expressed complained that under the current proposals their community would once again have to shoulder more than its fair share of the burden from transportation projects in the region, as it has done for decades.
Many believe the Washington Alternative would benefit the Citadel and Commerce Casino at the expense of eastside residents forced to live through the construction. They claim eastside businesses would also suffer, just like they did when the Gold Line was first extended to the eastside along 3rd Street.
“Someone is going to lose and someone is going to gain, but we haven’t done any of the gaining so far,” East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce President Eddie Torres told the Commerce City Council during their meeting.
“You need to take some of the impacts too.”
Metro left “no stone unturned” when it considered 27 possible alternatives to reach the Washington Corridor, Kim said, but ultimately it will be necessary to cut through Commerce.
Other potential challenges include routes that travel near Southern California Edison transmission lines, crossing a very active freight corridor and rail spurs that serve local businesses.
“Without an alternative that has the support of the city, cooperation of city staff, it will be very difficult to identify a real viable Washington Boulevard Corridor alternative,” Kim explained.
Metro officials are looking at designs that include aerial and underground stations to address the obstacles.
An underground station in close proximity to the widely visited Citadel Outlets could be possible with a tunnel-boring machine, but that would require Metro to acquire up to 5-acres of land, Kim told the council.
Metro officials are also looking for a 12- to 15-acre site for a maintenance facility to compliment the project.
“Have you been looking at the city of Commerce,” Mayor Pro Tem Tina Baca Del Rio asked Kim.
“We’ve been looking everywhere along the corridor,” he responded.
Metro officials have not identified a specific area or parcel for the proposed facility, but back in October they took Commerce officials on a tour of a Metro maintenance yard in Santa Monica to give them a better understanding of what such a facility could look like if built in the city.
The idea of building such a large facility, coupled with the tunnel-boring activity, has city officials concerned about what they see as the inevitable disruption to the city’s busiest commercial corridor.
The city needs more details about what would go on “because we have a lot of activity around that whole area and those impacts need to be properly assessed, ” Councilman Hugo Argumedo said.
Councilwoman Leila Leon was quick to point out that although a Washington route would serve the city’s major destinations, it is just as crucial to work with its neighbors.
“It’s not about the Citadel or casino,” said Leon, acknowledging that “yes we would benefit.”
“We need to look at how we can partner with the Eastside to revitalize East Los Angeles, so they’re not feeling left out.”
A new parking garage next to the Gold Line Station in Chinatown officially opened, making available 175 spaces for transit riders and the public.
The city-owned Blossom Plaza parking facility, at 900 N. Broadway, opened this weekend. Starting Monday, the regular hours will be from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents Chinatown, noted the garage will be open in time for the start of the Chinatown Summer Nights festival series and the Father’s Day weekend.
The garage has 344 spaces, with 169 reserved for people who live in nearby residences. The remaining 175 spaces include 100 for the general public and 75 for Metro riders.
The facility also offers bicycle parking space.
The garage can be entered from Spring and College streets, and is next to the Gold Line Station. Parking is $1 per hour for the first two hours, and increases to $2 for the third hour.
Every additional half hour will be $1, with the daily maximum set at $8. After 6 p.m. the flat rate is $3. Transit users with validation pay a $2 daily rate.
Work begins Friday on Metro’s Gold Line Track Relocation project, halting Gold Line train service between Union Station and the Pico/Aliso station through March.
Metro will run a bus shuttle between the two stations during the closure. The transportation agency will also offer a free Little Tokyo/Arts District Shuttle service and parking validation program to accommodate Little Tokyo shoppers and businesses.
The Gold Line tracks at 1st Street and Alameda Street in the Little Tokyo area near downtown Los Angeles are being relocated to prepare for tunneling work on the Regional Connector Transit Project. The construction project completes a 1.9-mile segment between the Metro Blue and Expo Lines and the Metro Gold Line by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles, according to Metro.
Gold Line riders who usually travel either to the Little Tokyo Gold Line Station or through the impacted area, depending on direction of travel, will either need to get off the Gold Line at Union Station or the Gold Line Pico/Aliso station and board a Metro Gold Line shuttle bus.
Gold Line service will operate between the Pico/Aliso Station and the Gold Line Atlantic Station in East Los Angeles every 10 minutes during the peak periods, but according to Metro, transit riders through the area should expect delays and plan ahead.
Gold Line service between Union Station and the Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena will be unchanged.
Three full weekend closures of the area have also been planned, the first starting Friday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. and running through Monday, Jan. 11 at 4:30 a.m. Subsequent weekend closure are scheduled for Feb. 12 –15, Feb. 19-22 and Feb. 26-29.
The project will also impact traffic on Alameda between Temple Street and 2nd Street with one lane open in each direction. Westbound 1st Street will be closed between Alameda Street and Vignes Street 24-hours a day starting Friday and continuing through March 2016. One thru lane will remain open on eastbound 1st Street between Alameda Street and Vignes Street. Full closure of 1st Street between Central Avenue and Alameda Street will also take place intermittently, according to Metro.
When completed in 2020, Metro expects the transit project to attract nearly 17,000 new daily riders, provide access to more than 88,000 passengers, and save commuters up to 20 minutes off their daily commute. It will provide a one-seat, one fare ride for commuters from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without the need to transfer between rail lines for major east/west and north/south trips.
That, according to Metro, will improve connectivity for riders across the entire Metro Rail system, municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services, provide significant environmental benefits and spur economic development throughout the County.
For more information about the Regional Connector Transit Project and for construction updates, visit metro.net/regionalconnector.
Metro will temporarily shut down Gold Line service between Union Station and the Pico/Aliso Station during the Nov. 20 weekend as part of pre-construction work for the Regional Connector Transit Project.
The preliminary closure will run from Friday, Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. until Monday, Nov. 23 at 5 a.m.
Major work on the connector transit project calls for workers to move existing Metro Gold Line tracks at 1st Street and Alameda 40 feet north in order to reconfigure the southern station entrance of the existing Little Tokyo Gold Line Station.
Work will begin Dec. 4 at p.m. and take up to three moths to complete, according to Metro.
During that time, there will be no Gold Line train service between Union Station and the Pico/Aliso Gold Line Station. The transit agency says it will operate a bus shuttle service between the two stations, giving Gold Line riders service to the Little Tokyo area and Pico/Aliso station. Riders will need to get off the Gold Line at Union Station or the Gold Line Pico/Aliso station to board the shuttle buses.
Travel delays should be expected, and travelers should adjust their travel schedules through the area, Metro advised.
Vehicle drivers should also expect lane closures and detours through the area during construction.
Once completed in late February 2016, Gold Line train service will be restored to normal operation with a modified south entrance, Metro said.
According to Metro, the “Regional Connector Transit Project completes a 1.9-mile segment between the Metro Blue and Expo Lines and the Metro Gold Line by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles.” The transit agency expects the new rail line to attract 17,000 new daily riders and provide access to over 88,000 passengers when completed in 2020.
“It will provide a one-seat, one fare ride for commuters from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without the need to transfer between rail lines for major east/west and north/south trips.”
For more information on the project and for construction updates, visit metro.net/regionalconnector
East Los Angeles residents fear they will once again be forced to bare the brunt of efforts to relieve traffic in the region.
They remember all too well the disruption to businesses and residents extending the Gold Line east caused in their neighborhood.
Lea este artículo en Español: SR-710 Tren Ligero Podría Ser una Carga Para el Este de Los Ángeles
Those concerns were expressed Saturday during a public hearing at East Los Angeles College hosted by Metro and Caltrans to get feedback on the State Route 710 Study.
While a majority of people who spoke at the hearing appeared to support a freeway tunnel option, several eastside residents said support in other cities for a light rail train through their neighborhood has them worried.
More vocal communities along the route are getting all the attention, they complained.
In March, Metro and Caltrans released a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), which outlined five alternatives for closing the gap between the 710 and 210 freeways. The options include a traffic management system, a rapid bus line, a light rail, a freeway tunnel and the required “no build” option.
About 100 people from Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, Monterey Park, El Sereno and East Los Angeles attended the hearing.
Many speakers supported the option to build a 2-way, 6.3 mile tunnel from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the connection with the 210/134 freeways in Pasadena.
The double decker option would have two lanes traveling in each direction and would run for 4.2 miles of bored tunnel. Vehicles carrying flammable or hazardous materials will be prohibited in the tunnel.
Several eastside residents claimed they “were left out of the conversation,” referring to the decision to include the Light Rail Train (LRT) alternative. They pointed out that some of the businesses hurt by construction of the Gold Line Eastside Extension in 2009 never recovered.
A light rail will destroy “one of the nicest corridors” and the East LA Civic Center on Third and Mednik Streets, they complained.
“We do not need the rail,” Martha Hernandez told Metro. “We can get to Pasadena on the Gold Line,” she said, adding that eastside residents can already get to Cal State LA by taking Metro’s Silver Line. There is also an express shuttle from ELACC.
Liz Sanchez lives one block from Mednik Street where a station could be built if a light rail is chosen. She told EGP a train would add to parking problems in her neighborhood because there’s no plan to provide public parking for rail passengers.
“I have a disability and even now it is hard to find parking… I don’t want to be selfish, but this is not a good option,” she lamented.
Clara Solis asked Metro and Caltrans to explain why East LA residents should bare the burden of other cities’ transportation problems. “Fifteen of our precious businesses that are walking distance from residences will be removed,” she said.
Yolanda Duarte, advisory chairperson for the Maravilla Community Center, said Metro 710 project spokespersons had gone to the eastside Center to give the community and businesses more information about the project.
“On two occasions questions were asked if businesses or residences will be taken, the answer [by Metro] was no. [Now] The EIR states 15 businesses will be targeted” to make room for rail stations, she said, visibly frustrated. The businesses are on Mednik, south of the I-60/at Third Street: One home and a businesses on East Cesar Chavez could also be taken.
People were able to review maps and other visual materials pertaining to the five alternatives and ask Metro engineers questions before the public hearing got under way.
Metro planners explained that if the light rail is chosen, it would travel 7.5 miles, divided into 3 miles of aerial track and 4.5 miles submerged approximately 6-stories underground.
The rail line would run from south of Valley Boulevard, with the first aerial station on Mednik Avenue adjacent to the East LA Civic Center Station, and two more aerial stations on Floral Drive and at Cal State LA. It would then go underground with stations in Alhambra, Huntington Drive, South Pasadena and to the Fillmore Station in Pasadena where it would connect with the Gold Line.
Many eastside residents have long resented Metro opting to build the Eastside Gold Line above ground while approving preferred but costlier underground subway options for other communities.
Several people said the eastside is once again getting the short end of the stick, complaining that the proposed rail line would run above ground through East LA, but then go underground through the more affluent communities north of Cal State LA.
“Why don’t we get a tunnel” like they do in Pasadena, one speaker demanded to know.
“Take out this project, do not even consider it,” said Gilbert Hernandez.
How to fill the 4.5-mile gap between the 710’s terminus in Alhambra and the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena is a debate that has raged on for more than six decades. If a route is eventually selected, a revenue source to cover the hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars needed to build it would still have to be found. The project could take three to five years to complete if the light rail is chosen.
L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis represents East Los Angeles and other areas impacted by the SR-710. She told EGP via email it is imperative to reduce congestion, improve air quality and enhance mobility for all residents, however, she does not yet see “any option as a natural choice” due to the many pros and cons.
“For example, the light rail alternative threatens the highest number of businesses and homes while the tunnel options could become a bottomless money pit. A combination of alternatives may end up being the way to get the most for our money,” she stated, adding that her staff is studying the various options and will hold community input meetings in addition to those scheduled by Metro.
“The communities I represent deserve a solution that absolutely improves their quality of life and environment … while improving mobility and using transportation to foster economic growth,” she said.
Metro and Caltrans have scheduled two more public hearings:
—Wednesday, May 6 at La Cañada High School auditorium, with a map viewing from 5-6 p.m. and public hearing at 6 p.m.
—Thursday, May 7 at the Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church, map viewing 5-6 p.m. and public hearing at 6 p.m.
The full study is available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis and can be viewed at the Caltrans District Office, 100 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 and public libraries listed here: http://www.metro.net/projects/sr- 710-conversations.
Comments will be accepted by mail through July 6: Mail to Garret Damrath, Caltrans Division 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 South Main Street MS-16, Los Angeles CA 90012.
To read more about the SR-710, go to www.EGPNews.com.
[Updated: April 16, 12:10 p.m.]
A pedestrian was struck and killed by a Metro Gold Line light train Monday morning in Highland Park.
At around 11:13 a.m., a Metro train traveling southbound struck a pedestrian at Avenue 61 and Figueroa Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The fatally injured man was in his 30s, said coroner’s Chief Craig Harvey. His name was not immediately released.
Los Angeles Police Department officials said the death was being investigated as a possible suicide.
Several witnesses at the scene said it appeared the man intentionally walked in front of the train. Ivan Gomez-Moron and Gena Lopez were both relaxing in the park just a few feet away and said they noticed the man—described as Latino, 35-40 years old—watching the trains pass by.
Gomez-Moron told EGP he at first thought the man was a “Metro or city employee” because he was wearing a blue shirt, blue pants, black shoes and carrying a bag, but noticed the man was acting suspicious.
“It looks like he was building courage to jump,” Gomez-Moron said.
The victim watched two trains go by then disappeared from sight when a third train passed by, witnesses said. Hearing the loud noise caused by the crash, Lopez and Gomez-Moran said they ran to investigate; that’s when they noticed the man’s bag on the ground where he had been standing.
“The Metro was making popping noises” and then it stopped, Lopez said. “That’s when I knew the train had hit him.”
Several other people said they too heard loud noises and then saw small pieces of debris flying in the air.
Gomez-Moron said he picked up the man’s discarded bag and noticed before turning it over to police that “there was a bible inside.”
None of the 70 passengers on board the train were seriously injured, Metro spokesperson Luis Inzunza told EGP. He said all the passengers were interviewed before being released.
The train’s female operator was in shock and transported to receive counseling services, according to Inzunza.
Buses were initially brought in to shuttle passengers between the Southwest Museum and South Pasadena stations until mid-afternoon, when service resumed with trains sharing a track at the Highland Park station. At about 5:30 p.m., service resumed on both tracks, but Metro spokesman Joe Lemon said service was still limited, with three-car trains running every 20 minutes.
Regular service has since resumed.
According to Lemon, The Gold Line is Metro’s safest rail line, said Lemon, adding that the two fatalities on the rail line since it opened in 2003 were both suicides. LAPD Officer Herrera said they are asking any witnesses of the incident to call the Northeast Station at (323) 344-5701.
[An earlier version of this article did not have the correct year the rail line opened.]
Information from City News Service used in this report.
En celebración del Día de la Tierra, el servicio de transporte Metro y Fallen Fruit, un proyecto del Programa de Patrocinio Fiscal del Consejo de las Artes de Pasadena EMERGE, organizaron un paseo gratis en la Línea Dorada del Metro, que comenzó en Union Station y terminó en el Armory Center en Pasadena.
El recorrido de tres horas comenzó con limonada para los participantes quienes para obtener un vaso de la refrescante bebida, tenían que dibujar un autorretrato en un limón proporcionado por Fallen Fruit.
Los participantes recibieron tarjetas de transporte TAP gratis y el tour incluyó una visita a los murales en Union Station y la estación de Chinatown mostrando el Ba Gua una rueda del cambio de 34 pies—un símbolo chino octagonal—creado por vías del ferrocarril en homenaje a los trabajadores ferrocarrileros chinos en 1800s.
La última parada fue en el Centro de Armería de las Artes en Old Pasadena, donde más de 50 limones con autorretratos se colocaron en una sala para exposición.
Los paseos gratis de Metro son continuos.
Para mas información visite: www.metro.net