When Los Angeles County voters passed the Measure M sales tax initiative in 2016, providing billions in funding for transportation projects across the region, it left Metro with a choice. The Measure M expenditure plan included $6 billion for a two-pronged extension of the Eastside Gold Line, with one branch running toward South El Monte and another to Whittier. That is, until now.
According to Metro's blog The Source, staff are recommending that the agency drop pursuit of the South El Monte route, which would have traveled on an elevated alignment adjacent to the SR-60 freeway.
"Technical studies found too many challenges with building a rail line along the 60, including steering tracks away from a Superfund site, not getting in the way of Caltrans planned widening of the 60, impacts to homes and environmentally sensitive areas and the lack of a large-enough site for a rail yard," reads the post.
Instead, Metro staff have proposed launching a feasibility study which would explore short- and long-term transit options which could better serve the communities along the SR-60 alignment.
Staff are also recommending that Metro discontinue with federal environmental review for the project, which would save time but also make the extension ineligible for federal funding.
"Metro does not see that as problematic given that there are other Metro projects that are more likely to be eligible for federal dollars anyway," reads the post.
Should the Metro Board of Directors adopt the recommendations made by staff, this would leave the Washington Boulevard alignment as the only alternative for extending service on the Eastside Gold Line, which connects East Los Angeles to Union Station via Boyle Heights. The Washington route would veer south from the Gold Line's current terminus at Atlantic Station in a tunnel which would connect with The Citadel outlet mall in Commerce, and then along aerial and at-grade tracks toward Whittier.
Under the Measure M expenditure plan, the extensions would be built in two phases, the first occuring between 2029 and 2035, and the second between 2053 and 2057.
Eventually, the completion of the Regional Connector subway will merge Gold Line service with the Expo (E) Line, allowing through-routing through Downtown Los Angeles toward Santa Monica.
Dropping the SR-60 alignment will also allow Metro to avoid a convoluted service pattern on the Gold Line which could have suppressed ridership. As previously noted by LA Podcast co-host Scott Frazier, the two-pronged extension would be branches off of the Gold Line, which itself will be a branch off of the Regional Connector, thus limiting service to the east of Atlantic Station to maximum 10-minute frequencies during peak hours.
- Gold Line Eastside Extension (Urbanize LA)