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L.A. Metro Offers Details on Planned West Santa Ana Branch Rail

Metro is hosting a series of meetings on its planned West Santa Ana Branch rail line. The 19-mile rail line will extend from downtown L.A. into southeast L.A. County, mostly in a couple of existing rail rights-of-way. The project has a couple of tranches of Measure M funding, so may be built in phases - with an initial opening anticipated around 2041.

There are two additional meetings coming up this Thursday (tomorrow) and Saturday, both from 10 a.m. to noon. Metro is accepting WSAB Environmental Impact Report (EIR) comments through Tuesday, September 28. Meeting and EIR comment details at the Streetsblog calendar, The Source, or Metro's project webpage.

There wasn't a lot of new material for folks who have studied the hundreds of pages of the EIR. In case you're one of those people who just didn't make it through appendix T (that's the Water Resources report), below are some additional relatively high-level overview facts Streetsblog gleaned from yesterday's presentation. Metro announced that they will post the presentation at their project webpage soon.

Map of current Metro West Santa Ana Branch alternatives
Map of current Metro West Santa Ana Branch alternatives
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The EIR breaks the WSAB project into four alternatives. Alternatives 1 and 2 differ in the location of the line's northern terminus in downtown Los Angeles. Alternatives 3 and 4 are only partial build-outs of the southern end of the line, which is identical in all four alternatives.

    • Alternative 1: 19 miles with Union Station terminus - cost: $9.1-9.3 billion
    • Alternative 2: 19 miles with 7th Street terminus - cost $9.3-9.5 billion
    • Alternative 3: 15 miles just from A Line to Artesia - $4.9-5.1 billion (Metro staff are recommending this)
    • Alternative 4: 6.6 miles just from C Line to Artesia - $2.3-2.6 billion
Metro slide show comparison of West Santa Ana Branch Alternatives. Full slide show at COG Agenda
Metro slide show comparison of West Santa Ana Branch Alternatives. Full July 2021 slide show at Gateway Cities COG Agenda
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(Sadly, the escalating light rail costs lend further credibility to Streetsblog's longtime assertion that the line should really be heavy rail utilizing an existing rail corridor along the river through downtown L.A.)

Below is some additional information about each of the alternatives, listed south to north.

There are five park-and-ride lots planned, all near the southern terminus at the Pioneer Boulevard Station in the city of Artesia, which would be the only parking structure on the line. Other planned surface parking lots would be at Bellflower Boulevard, Paramount Blvd/Rosecrans Avenue, C (Green) Line, and Firestone Boulevard.

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Metro slide on WSAB Alternative 1
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Second Metro slide on WSAB Alternative 1
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Alternative 4 includes four station stations - one elevated - plus plenty of grade separations: seven elevated street crossings, two freight crossings, and three freeway crossings. Other major expenditures include redoing about a mile of the Metro C Line and realigning 1.3 miles of freight rail.

Metro slide on West Santa Ana Branch Alternative 3
Metro slide on West Santa Ana Branch Alternative 3
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Alternative 3 includes six more stations, in addition to the Alternative 4 stations. Most of this portion of the line (6.6 miles) would run at-grade, with nearly two miles of aerial structures. This portion includes bridges crossing two rivers and the 710 Freeway, as well as 6.8 miles of freight rails realignment.

West Santa Ana Branch alternatives 1 and 2
West Santa Ana Branch alternatives 1 and 2
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And then the project gets expensive! North of where the West Santa Ana Branch line parallels the A Line, coming into downtown L.A., the project would include a couple miles of tunnels and a couple miles of aerial structure - all much more costly than the mostly at-grade rail in the southern parts of the project.

Get more information at this week's meetings - and provide your feedback.

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