Thursday June 20, 2002
Construction of 6-Mile Rail Extension Expected to Begin Mid-2003
This 6-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line through East Los Angeles will serve one of the most densely populated areas of Los Angeles County.
“The MTA could not have reached this milestone without the tireless support of the people of the Eastside,” said John Fasana, MTA Board Chair. “When this extension of the Metro Gold Line opens in 2008, it will greatly improve Eastside residents’ access to jobs, schools, medical facilities, places of recreation and many other destinations.”
The Record of Decision paves the way for FTA authorization for the MTA to begin final design of the project, which would be followed by signing of a federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). MTA estimates construction of the 1.7-mile tunnel portion of the Eastside project will begin in mid-2003 and construction of the at-grade portion would get underway in late 2004/early 2005.
“The steady progress of the project and this latest milestone are testimony to the ongoing efforts of our project team,” said Jim de la Loza, MTA executive officer for planning. “They are committed to delivering a first-class project to an area whose residents have waited patiently for several years for easier access to the growing Metro Rail system.”
The Metro Gold (C) Line, now under construction between Union Station and Pasadena, is expected to begin operations in mid-2003. The Eastside extension would operate from Union Station to Pomona Blvd./Atlantic Blvd. along 1st Street, then transition to 3rd Street via Indiana Street and proceed east along 3rd Street to Atlantic Boulevard.
The extension would include nine stations and operate at street level with the exception of the tunnel segment through Boyle Heights, which was necessitated by the narrowness of streets along that portion of the alignment.
Several features make the Eastside an excellent candidate for such a project. The 40-square-mile Eastside is a densely populated area with a current population of nearly 500,000. That figure is expected to grow 25 percent by the year 2020 and, during the same period, the number of jobs is expected to climb by 30 percent.
In addition, many Eastside residents are frequent users of transit. More than 19 percent of the area’s workers use the bus system to get to work as compared to 6.8 percent for Los Angeles County as a whole. In fact, as many as 50 percent of the commuter trips made by residents of some Eastside neighborhoods are made on public transit.
“Buses will remain an important part of the transit system, but given the Eastside’s population and transit use, the area is a prime candidate for this extension of the Metro Rail system,” said Gloria Molina, Los Angeles County Supervisor and MTA Board Member.
“The extension will provide the people of East Los Angeles with a seamless connection to a large portion of the county, which will prove even more valuable as traffic congestion on our streets and highways grows,” Molina added. “In addition, the Eastside project also contains funding for enhancements to existing bus service in the area and the addition of two new bus lines. No bus service will be removed.”
In January 1998, the MTA suspended work on an Eastside extension of the Metro Red Line subway prior to groundbreaking. The suspended project would have consisted of four stations east of Union Station. Following a study of potential transit alternatives for the corridor, the MTA Board of Directors in June 2000 selected the light rail extension as the preferred mode of choice for the Eastside community.
The Federal Government had committed to fund $495 million, or approximately 50 percent, of the cost of the subway extension. The MTA studied the light rail alternative with the intent of improving transit mobility while retaining federal funding eligibility.
Following the recommendation of Governor Davis, the state legislature earmarked state surplus funds to fully fund the Eastside alternative. The preliminary cost estimate for the Eastside Light Rail Project was $760 million in current year dollars. An updated cost estimate will be determined during final design.
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