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Metro's Blue Line, already in the midst of a $1.2-billion upgrade, could see additional improvements to speed and safety.

According to an agenda item from last week's meeting of Metro's Citizens' Advisory Council, the transportation agency has issued a solicitation for a consultant to review and rank all of the Blue Line's street-level crossings for grade separation.  The scope of work would include a feasibility study for a new aerial crossing at Wardlow Street, replacing an existing ground-level station.

A consultant has also submitted a report on the potential of adding fare gates to Blue Line stations in the City of Long Beach, including those at Wardlow, 4th Street, 1st Street, Pacific Avenue and the Downtown Long Beach Transit Mall.

With 80,000 daily passengers, the Blue Line is among the busiest light rail lines in the United States.  But despitee its workhorse status, the the light rail link between Downtown Los Angeles and Long beach is more frequently cited for a less fortunate distinction: its dismal safety record.  Since opening in 1990, the Blue Line has been involved with more than 100 fatal collisions with pedestrians and motorists, making it the country's deadliest light rail line.

This reputation has prompted many of improvements included within the current upgrade project, which began in 2014.  Metro has already finished adding pedestrian gates and swing gates at 27 at-grade crossings in the Cities of Long Beach and Compton, and is scheduled to complete gate construction at crossings in the City and County of Los Angeles by October 2017.

Rendering of the proposed Wardlow Station grade separation (Image: Metro)
View of fare gates at a Blue Line station (Image: Metro)

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