April 13, 2009
2009 APTA - TRB Light Rail Conference Issue
|APTA-TRB LIGHT RAIL CONFERENCE
Los Angeles Metro Expanding Light Rail to Both East and West
Special to Passenger Transport
Los Angeles has seen its network of light rail systems expand, and more growth is coming as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), host system for the APTA/TRB Joint Light Rail Conference, embarks on a number of transportation improvement projects.
“We are proud of the Metro Rail system currently in place, and are equally proud that we have the opportunity to expand the system further east and west with a lot more transportation improvement projects in the works for L.A. County,” said Metro Chief Executive Officer Arthur T. Leahy. “We have our work cut out for us, but we remain committed to improving the region’s mobility through better transportation options.”
To the east of downtown Los Angeles, Metro is nearing completion of a six-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line to East Los Angeles. The extension features eight stations—with two underground—and runs from Union Station via the Little Tokyo/Arts District and Boyle Heights to Atlantic/Pomona Boulevard in East L.A.
Metro began testing rail cars on the full length of the six-mile extension in late January. Extensive train and systems testing is now underway on the line, which is expected to open for revenue service this summer.
The system broke ground on the Eastside Extension of the Gold Line in July 2004. At a cost of $898 million, this extension will serve one of the most densely populated and heavily transit dependent areas in Los Angeles County; Metro expects it to bring jobs and opportunities to East Los Angeles and create another critical link in L.A. County’s growing transportation system.
In constructing the extension, Metro has reported an exemplary safety record: more than 3.8 million construction working hours without a single lost-time injury. The project is also under budget and projected for an early completion.
To the west, the Exposition Construction Authority is building the Exposition Light Rail Transit Line, or Expo Line, which will travel along the Exposition railroad right-of-way between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City. It will share a track and two stations (7th Street/Metro Center and Pico) with the Metro Blue Line as it leaves downtown Los Angeles.
The 8.6-mile route, scheduled to open in 2010, will have nine new stations, to be located at Flower Street at 23rd Street and Jefferson, Expo Park/USC, Vermont, Western, Crenshaw, La Brea, La Cienega and Venice/Robertson. The estimated end-to-end travel time will be less than 30 minutes, with a projected weekday ridership of 27,000 by 2020.
The Expo Line runs parallel to the heavily congested Santa Monica Freeway. The project also is considered a “Transit Parkway” that will be enhanced by bike and pedestrian paths, as well as trees and landscaping along the alignment. Once completed, the $862 million project will be turned over to Metro for operation.
The proposed extension of the Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica is currently undergoing environmental review; a draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Review has been made available for public comment.
With the recent passage of Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for Los Angeles County expected to generate $40 billion over the next 30 years, Los Angeles is poised to develop and implement a state-of-the-art transportation system. Currently under environmental review are several extensions of the Metro Rail system that include four major transportation projects moving forward to their next phase of work.
These projects include the Westside Extension Transit Corridor Study to expand the Metro’s subway system further west; the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study to link up the Metro Blue Line and Gold Line through downtown Los Angeles; and the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 Study, to extend the Gold Line farther east. Money generated by Measure R also will go toward extending the Foothill Extension of the Metro Gold Line through several communities in the San Gabriel Valley.
Also, the final Environmental Impact Report for the Canoga Park Transportation Corridor Project has been approved, making way for construction to begin later this year on a four-mile extension of the popular Metro Orange Line, a dedicated bus-only transitway from the Canoga Park Station to the Chatsworth Metrolink Station in the west San Fernando Valley.
Metro currently operates 73.1 miles of heavy and light rail systems. Completion of the Eastside Extension this summer and the Expo Line next year will raise that number to 88 miles of Metro Rail in service with more on the way, all aimed at improving the region’s mobility and air quality.