Beginning in the next six months or so, Santa Monica transit users will be able to hop on the train at 4th Street and hop off the train all the way at Atlantic Avenue in East LA, once light rail lines are reconfigured with the new regional connector — but LA Metro has even more ambitious plans for this “one-seat ride,” eventually taking passengers from Santa Monica as far as Whittier without ever changing trains or waiting for a transfer.
On Thursday, the transit agency released the environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed rail expansion, called the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 Project, that could still be a whopping 13 years in the future.
LA Metro is in a rush to complete several new transit projects in an effort to help alleviate crushing traffic anticipated during the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but whether or not this portion of the project is selected as priority is yet to be determined. If it is not, current plans forecast the expansion could be complete as late as 2035, relying on funding from a half-cent sales tax increase approved through 2016 LA County bond measure, Measure M, which set aside funds estimated at about $120 billion over 40 years for transportation improvements across the region. That measure passed with nearly 72 percent of votes cast in favor.
“So this is our current Measure M project timeline: Again, we’re looking at environmental clearance by 2023, and in 2029, that’s when we’re expected to get funding for this project from Measure M, which is approximately about $3 billion,” Project Manager Jenny Cristales-Cevallos said. “So, construction wouldn’t begin until roughly in 2029. This project is a pillar project. What that means is that it’s a priority project for the [Metro] Board — that potentially this project could be implemented by 2028. But in order to do that, the Board would need to direct staff, but also we would need to have the technical work and the funding available for this to happen. But for now, our project is on this Measure M timeline. So once again, construction wouldn’t begin until 2029, and we would be open for service in 2035.”
Following the release of the EIR on Thursday, LA Metro has opened a 60-day comment period for residents and stakeholders to weigh in on three potential versions of the extension, which vary by total length.
The first and longest of the three alternatives would see the line expanded approximately nine miles with up to seven new stations, ending at Santa Fe Springs Road in Whittier. The second and shortest would expand the line 3.2 miles or up to three stations, terminating in the City of Commerce. The third alternative would add 4.6 miles of track and up to four stations, ending in Montebello at Greenwood Avenue.
This week, planners hosted two virtual community information sessions featuring Q&As where residents along the planned expansion were invited to voice questions and concerns. Community members who attended the first meeting generally fell into two camps: one of residents and business owners staunchly opposed to the project and the other of supporters requesting minor changes or offering suggestions for improvements.
Those in opposition to the plan expressed frustration with their inability to vote against the proposal, with at least one Whittier resident calling for a ballot measure to block the expansion. Another complained about a lack of designated parking (with only one station, at Atlantic Avenue, set to integrate parking). LA Metro employees said this was to encourage transit users to walk or bike to the stations.
According to planners, no residential units would be moved or demolished to make way for the expansion, but residents at 46,000 addresses would be sent notices about the proposal to give them the opportunity to weigh in before public comment closes at the end of August.
To learn more about the project, visit www.metro.net/projects/eastside_phase2.
In the lead-up to the 2028 Olympics, LA Metro has announced ambitious plans that include the soon-to-open Regional Connector Transit Project, linking the current Expo Line with the southern portion of the Gold Line (creating the one-seat ride to East LA), while linking the northern portion of the Gold Line (which runs from Azusa through Pasadena) to Long Beach. Simultaneously, Metro is working to open the Crenshaw Line, which will eventually link the Expo Line to LAX, as well as the expansion of the Purple Line into West LA. Other plans include a new transit corridor from North Hollywood to Pasadena and a Sepulveda Transit Corridor, among several others.
In total, according to a staff presentation at the recent community meeting, the LA Metro network “is expected to expand by approximately 106 miles of fixed guideway network.”