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New Concept Considered For Union Station Re-Vamp: Above-Grade Concourse

Metro will study an above-grade concourse as part of its LinkUS project. Image via Metro

The estimated $2.75 billion LinkUS project is planned to convert Union Station from a stub-end station to a run-through station. Run-through tracks would decrease delays, increase capacity, and get Union Station ready for future West Santa Ana Branch light rail and California high-speed rail. LinkUS would significantly expand today's current underground concourse hallway that riders use to access the Gold Line, Metrolink, and Amtrak.

In March, the Metro board approved track alignments and a funding increase for LinkUS studies currently underway.

At today's Metro board Planning and Programming Committee, Metro staff introduced a new concept under consideration: an above-grade concourse. The above-grade concourse would be circular, with escalators and stairs down to train platforms.

In earlier versions of LinkUS and the Union Station Master Plan, the current concourse corridor would have been greatly expanded, but would remain beneath railway tracks. Metro's LinkUS environmental studies underway will evaluate both above and below-grade concourses.

Metro's preliminary comparison between above- and below-grade concourse for Union Station. Image via Metro staff report
Metro's preliminary comparison between an above- and below-grade concourse for Union Station. Image via Metro staff report
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Preliminarily, the below-ground concourse appears to be advantageous for passenger convenience, transit-oriented development, and operations costs. The above-ground concourse appears better for construction costs, views, and constructability, including minimizing construction impacts to current rail operations.

In addition to the new concourse concepts, Metro staff reported on two additional aspects of the LinkUS project:

    • Transit-Oriented Joint Development: In October 2017, Metro expects to release a Request for Information/Qualifications/Proposals (RFI/Q/P) to clarify how LinkUS could potentially proceed with additional private development onsite at Union Station. Planning station improvements at the same time as new adjacent development would allow for stronger transit connections.
    • Active Transportation: The LinkUS study is evaluating possible bike/walk connections between Union Station and the planned L.A. River multi-use path.

Metro will continue to refine plans for LinkUS via its environmental studies underway. Metro staff expect to finalize the studies and project design through Fall 2018, when the board is expected to approve a preferred project alternative.

Readers, what do you think of the new concourse concept? Would you prefer a cheaper, quicker elevated concourse with great views? Or a larger, more expensive underground concourse, with more convenient transit connections?

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