By Noel T. Braymer
With the passage of Measure M last November by over 71% of the vote, funding for future transportation projects are on a strong footing in Los Angeles County. Most of the rail related projects that will be built by 2030 are already under development or will be soon. But the new funding made possible by Measure M will speed up construction of projects already under construction or start construction sooner than was possible without Measure M.
The 8.5 mile Crenshaw/LAX Rail line now under construction is already half finished. It will meet the current Green Line at the Imperial Highway Station at the southeast corner of LAX. The Green line will be extended, sharing the Crenshaw/LAX line up to the Century Blvd as well as the 96th Street stations. The 96th Street station will be the transfer point to the future LAX People Mover which will provide service to the airport terminals. Because of Measure M, there is now funding available to build the People Mover transfer station for the Green and Crenshaw/LAX lines. The rest of the Crenshaw Line is already funded with constructed expected to finish by 2019. The 96th Street Station construction is planned to start by 2018 and completed by 2021. The LAX People Mover is planned to be running by 2023.
The Crenshaw/ LAX line will also serve Inglewood and go north up Crenshaw Blvd to Exposition Blvd allowing passenger to transfer to the Expo Line at Crenshaw to either Santa Monica or downtown Los Angeles. Plans are in the works to extend the Crenshaw/LAX line using San Vincente Blvd to connect with the Purple Line at Wilshire and La Cienaga at the east end of Beverly Hills. From there the Crenshaw/LAX line would head north to serve West Hollywood and connect to the Red Line in Hollywood at Hollywood and Highland. This will allow connections from downtown Los Angeles and east San Fernando Valley to West Los Angeles and LAX. Speaking of the Purple Line, plans to extend it west of La Cienaga to Westwood with only Measure R funding was set for 2035. With the passage of Measure M, the plan now is to start construction west of La Cienaga by 2018 and reach Westwood by 2023. The original plan for finishing Phase 1 of the Purple Line extension to La Cienga was by 2023. The length of the Purple Line extension from Western Ave to Westwood is 9 miles.
Another major project now under construction is the Regional Connector. This is a roughly 2 mile long subway between the existing Blue/Expo lines tunnel at 7th and Flower in downtown Los Angeles to a new subway station in Little Tokyo at 1st St and Central Ave. This also includes 2 other new subway stations at 2nd St and Broadway and 2nd Place and Hope St. With the construction of the Regional Connector the Blue Line from Long Beach will be extended from 7th and Flower to Union Station on what is now the Gold Line to Pasadena, Azusa and possibly as far as Ontario Airport in the future. The Expo Line will also be extended to Little Tokyo on to East Los Angeles on what is now the Gold Line. The Regional connector will reduce the need to transfer to get to more destinations in less time. This project is already fully funded and planned to be in service by 2021.
Starting in 2018 or so for the rest of the coming decade will be reconstruction of the tracks, platforms and a new underground concourse at Los Angeles Union Station. The biggest change will come with the construction of run through tracks at LAUS. This will allow trains to enter from one end of the tracks and continue on exiting the station from the other side without having to back up as is needed know withe the station’s stub end tracks. This will greatly increase the station’s train capacity allow more rail passenger service. In 2015 the California High Speed Rail Authority asked LA Metro for 4 tracks and 2 platform for future High Speed Trains as part of the new track and concourse construction at LAUS. This has delayed this project by about a years as changes to the project are needed to include High Speed Rail. But this will make transfers between High Speed Rail to the other train and bus services at Union Station much faster and easier for passengers, compared to the original plan for an underground station for High Speed Rail. The new concourse under Union Station will be built under the platforms at the station. The will eliminate the congestion at the current 1939 tunnel connecting to the platforms as well as open space for more shops, services, places to eat and create more direct connections between trains and to bus and rail transit.
There are 4 new or extensions of existing rail transit services planned by LA Metro between now and 2030. Rail service was extended in the summer of 2016 from Pasadena to Azusa. This greatly increased ridership on this line. The right of way east of Azusa continues on to San Bernardino. While there are no plans to run Light Rail service to San Bernardino, planning is going ahead to extend it at least to Claremont early in the next decade. The ultimate goal is to extend this service to Ontario Airport in San Bernardino County. Before that can happen there are plans to extend it to Montclair which is on the right of way now used by rail service to Azusa and is in San Bernardino County on the border with Los Angeles County. To even get to Montclair, let alone Ontario Airport will require matching funds from San Bernardino County. While these issues are being worked out, LA Metro is going ahead with plans to extend service from Azusa to Clairmont which will be the station in Los Angeles County closest to Montclair. The future Blue Line extension east of Azusa will be sharing right of way with Metrolink and likely also stations at Pomona, Clairmont and Montclair. This will allow transfers between Metrolink and Light rail. Getting to Ontario Airport by Light Rail will be a challenge since there isn’t a direct right of way connection to the airport from the right of way at Montclair
The first new Light Rail line will likely be in the northeast San Fernando Valley. This will be in a roughly 9 mile corridor along most of Van Nuys Blvd in the center of the San Fernando Valley heading north and turning up San Fernando Road. This service would have connecting stations at the Metrolink Sylmar Station, the Van Nuys Metrolink/Amtrak Station and the Orange Line Busway. Van Nuys Blvd already has the heaviest bus traffic in the Valley. There are also plans to build a busway on the 405 for rapid bus service to Westwood which will connect with Light Rail at Van Nuys Blvd and the Purple line at Westwood. Construction of the East San Fernando Valley project is expected by 2021 and be completed by 2027. The bus connections to Westwood are planned by 2026 and there are plans to extend the Orange Line bus service from North Hollywood to Pasadena by 2022.
By 2028 there are plans to build 8 miles of Light Rail between Paramount and Artesia in the south east area of Los Angeles County. Construction is planned to start by 2022. At Paramount this service would connect with the Green Line at a new joint station near the 710 freeway at the 105 freeway. The right of way for this would be on the old West Santa Ana Branch of the Pacific Electric which use to run from Watts Junction to Santa Ana. The right of way is still intact south of Artesia to Santa Ana. Orange County plans to use part of this right of way for a Streetcar service from Santa Ana to Garden Grove in the near future, That are currently no plans to connect service between Orange and Los Angeles County. The northern segment of this yet unnamed rail line is to extended it 12 miles to Los Angeles Union Station mostly along the now publicly owned former UP Harbor Line. No final route has been decided into downtown Los Angeles for this segment.
The final rail project we can expect by 2030 is the extension of the Green Line south from Redondo Beach to Crenshaw Blvd in Torrance. Construction is expected to start by 2026. This will use the former BNSF Harbor Line right of way which is already used by the Green Line south of El Segundo. Construction for this segment should be fairly easy to build. There is more former Harbor Line right of way available south if Crenshaw Bivd, but there are currently no plans to use it for future extension of the Green Line. There are plans to extend the Green Line at the east end from the Norwalk Green Line terminal to the Metrolink Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs station. This station is planned as a future High Speed Rail station. Currently planning for this new station is after 2050. There is some talk of building this and other projects sooner with Public,Private Partnerships which would include additional private financing.