1.1. What is the South Bay Metro Green Line Extension Transit Corridor Project Study (Metro Green Line Extension)?
The South Bay Metro Green Line Extension Transit Corridor (Metro Green Line Extension) is an environmental analysis of potential transit alternatives for the Metro-owned Harbor Subdivision Railroad right-of-way (ROW). The Study Area for the project follows Metro’s ROW and focuses on a 4.6 mile-long corridor from the Redondo Beach Station at Marine Avenue to the intersection of the Harbor Subdivision ROW and Crenshaw Boulevard in Torrance. The Study Area focuses on five communities including Hawthorne, Manhattan Beach, Lawndale, Redondo Beach and Torrance. We are currently in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) phase of project development.
1.2. What is an Environmental Impact Statement? What is an Environmental Impact Report?
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document that is prepared, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, for projects requiring federal action where there may be significant impacts to the environment. An EIS identifies the potential social, economic, transportation and environmental benefits and impacts associated with the construction and operation of the project alternatives (proposed transportation investments) selected for evaluation in comparison to the No Build Alternative (environment without the proposed transportation investments) and Transportation Systems Management Alternative (TSM) (low-cost improvements to the existing transportation system such as improved bus service).
The purpose of an EIS is to provide a full and open evaluation of impacts associated with the alternatives, as well as to inform decision-makers and the public of reasonable alternatives, if any, that could avoid or minimize adverse impacts and enhance the quality of the environment. It also identifies reasonable measures to mitigate any potential adverse impacts, if necessary. The evaluation of impacts is summarized in the Draft EIS document, which is circulated for public and agency comment over a 45-day period. Public hearings are held to present the results of the Draft EIS and to formally record all public comments. A Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is then selected by the Metro Board of Directors from the project alternatives and is recommended for final refinement in the Final EIS.
A Final EIS is then prepared to catalogue and address public comments received during circulation of the Draft EIS. The Final EIS will identify and compare the impacts of the LPA to the No Build and TSM Alternatives evaluated in the Draft EIS.
An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is similar to an EIS, except that this document is required by the California Environmental Quality Act. State level requirements for an EIR are similar in content and purpose to the federal requirements of an EIS and, therefore, the two efforts are typically coordinated and combined into a single document.
1.3. What is the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis Study?
The Metro Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis (AA) Study is the precursor to the Metro Green Line Extension Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report. The AA studied a large number of transit alternatives along the 26-mile Metro-owned Harbor Subdivision railroad right-of-way between downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The AA Study, which was approved by Metro’s Board of Directors in December 2009, recommended a Phased Implementation Strategy that identified the Metro Green Line Extension as the highest-priority for implementation. The Harbor Subdivision AA is posted on the South Bay Metro Green Line Extension webpage .
1.4. How will the Metro Green Line Extension be funded?
Measure R, a half-cent transportation sales tax passed by County voters in November 2008, earmarked approximately $272 million in 2008 dollars for the Metro Green Line Extension.
1.5. What are the project objectives?
The Metro Green Line Extension project aims to:
- Improve mobility in the South Bay area by introducing high-frequency transit service options;
- Enhance the transit network by providing more direct connections to travel destinations;
- Provide an alternative mode of transportation for commuters using the congested I-405 corridor;
- Improve transit accessibility for residents along the corridor; and
- Encourage a mode shift to transit, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
1.6. How is the Metro Green Line Extension Project related to the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project?
The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project is an 8.5-mile Metro light rail project that would use the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way (ROW) and Crenshaw Boulevard to connect the Expo Line (currently under construction) to the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX Station.
The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor is proposed to operate along the same Harbor Subdivision ROW as the Metro Green Line Extension (but further to the north). If light rail transit is selected for the Metro Green Line Extension, these two services would utilize the same infrastructure and a direct connection would be implemented from the Expo Line to the South Bay.
2.1. What transit alternatives are being examined in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report for the Metro Green Line Extension Project?
- No Build Alternative - Represents existing conditions in the Study Area including transportation projects currently under construction or funded for construction and operation by the year 2035. This alternative includes projects funded in Measure R and specified in the financially constrained element of Metro’s 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan.
- Transportation Systems Management Alternative - Lower cost capital and operational improvements to roadways including restriping, signal synchronization, minor widening and enhanced bus service designed to improve bus speed along existing roadways from the Green Line Redondo Beach Station at Marine Avenue to the proposed Torrance Regional Transit Center (RTC).
- Light Rail Alternative - Extension of existing light rail transit (LRT) service along the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way from the Metro Green Line’s current terminus at the Redondo Beach Station at Marine Avenue to the proposed Torrance RTC utilizing LRT vehicle technology and infrastructure. The extension is 4.6 miles long with approximately four new stations.
2.2. What is the status of the Freight Track Alternative?
The Freight Track Alternative was initially studied as part of the Metro Green Line Extension project. Analysis conducted for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report revealed that the Freight Track Alternative does not meet the project objectives and offers no advantages in terms of fewer environmental impacts, allowing a shorter time frame to introduce service or cost-effectiveness. Major issues include infeasibility of operating high-frequency service, low ridership, forced transfers and lack of public support. The Federal Transit Administration and Metro Board have approved eliminating this alternative from further consideration, and it will no longer be studied in this draft environmental document.
2.3. Are routes other than the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way being studied for the Light Rail Alternative?
Throughout the public and agency outreach process, the Metro Green Line Extension project team has received suggestions for the Light Rail Alternative to use an alignment other than the Harbor Subdivision right-way (ROW) recommended in the Harbor Subdivision Alternatives Analysis (AA) Study. Suggestions have included the Southern California Edison Power Line ROW in Redondo Beach, Inglewood Avenue, Hawthorne Boulevard, Madrona Avenue and an underground alignment through the City of Lawndale.
The project team has examined all routing options that have been suggested during the outreach process to determine their viability. So far, all suggestions received have been studied during the Harbor Subdivision AA Study, examined / re-examined during this Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) or had issues which confirm that further study is not warranted. These issues include additional traffic, property, visual, community and construction impacts, lack of cost effectiveness and constrained physical fit. A full description of issues with alternatives that have been suggested during the outreach process will be contained in an “Alternatives Considered and Rejected” section of the Draft EIS/EIR.
2.4. Is Metro considering a transit extension beyond the Torrance Regional Transit Center?
Metro is not seeking environmental clearance for a transit extension beyond the Torrance Regional Transit Center at this time. Potential extensions from the Metro Green Line Extension southern terminus at Torrance to San Pedro, Long Beach and the Los Angeles/Orange County Line are included in the unfunded portion of the 2009 Metro Long Range Transportation Plan. Metro may consider these projects in the future, if additional funding becomes available.
3.1. Where will potential new stations be located?
Proposed station locations vary based on each alternative:
- Light Rail Alternative: Proposed station locations for the Light Rail Alternative include: Manhattan Beach Boulevard / Inglewood Avenue, the proposed Redondo Beach Regional Transit Center (RTC) at the South Bay Galleria, Hawthorne Boulevard / 190th Street and the proposed Torrance RTC at Crenshaw Boulevard.
- Transportation System Management Alternative: The new bus service proposed as part of the TSM Alternative would resemble the service of the Light Rail Alternative, and would stop at the same general station locations.
3.2. How will stations accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists?
In the environmental study careful consideration will be given to station access requirements and the arrangement of station pathways and amenities to best facilitate multimodal (including pedestrian and bicyclist) access.
4.1. What types of impacts are being evaluated?
The Draft Environmental Impact Report / Environmental Impact Statement will consider, among others, impacts to transportation, land use, air quality, noise and vibration, groundwater, public safety and economic development.
4.2. What types of grade crossing alternatives will be studied?
There are three general "grade" levels at which transit service can be built:
- At-grade or ground level, i.e. the same level as adjacent roadways and land uses;
- Above-grade or above ground (on a bridge), i.e. higher than the level of adjacent roadways and land uses; or
- Below-grade or below ground (in a trench or tunnel), i.e. lower than the level of adjacent roadways and land uses
When rail transit is planned and designed, there is often concern over the presence of at-grade crossings due to the fact at-grade crossings allow for interactions between transit, automobiles and pedestrians. Sometimes, there is also concern that at-grade crossings will cause additional traffic congestion at busy intersections.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report will address at-grade crossings along the Metro Green Line Extension using the Metro Board-approved Grade Crossing Policy for Light Rail Transit and an analysis of environmental impacts and if, necessary, mitigation measures. This policy sets forth a transparent process by which to evaluate at-grade crossings and potential grade crossing issues including intersection capacities, traffic and safety.
4.3. How will Metro address pedestrian safety at at-grade crossings?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) will review existing safety standards present throughout the Study Area and analyze potential safety hazards associated with the project alternatives. The Draft EIS/EIR will also specifically address pedestrian safety for at-grade crossings by identifying locations requiring pedestrian crossing warning devices. In addition to standard cross-walk markings, warning devices for pedestrian crossings include flashing light signals, signs, bells, train-borne audible warnings, curbside pedestrian barriers and crossing channelization. When the project begins operating service, Metro will also implement an outreach program to educate the community about safety at grade crossings. This program will focus on both motorist and pedestrian safety and will target audiences of all age groups.
4.4. How will Metro address potential traffic impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) will include a comprehensive analysis of existing and projected traffic conditions within the Study Area under the different project alternatives. The analysis will give special consideration to all at-grade crossings in the Study Area and adjacent intersections that may experience traffic diversion. All at-grade crossings will be evaluated according to the Metro Grade Crossing Policy for Light Rail Transit. This policy, in conjunction with the environmental impact analysis, will determine if any grade crossing treatments such as street closures or grade-separations are necessary. The California Public Utilities Commission must approve each grade crossing application.
Additionally, the Draft EIS/EIR will identify the need for traffic and pedestrian safety features related to LRT operations. The analysis will help ensure that the project is designed in a way that accommodates the space required to install key safety features.
4.5. How will Metro address potential safety/security impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report will study existing crime and security programs including lighting and fencing throughout the Study Area. There is often a perception that people around or in transit stations or aboard trains are subject to higher crime risks. However, this is shown not to be the case, as described further below. Additionally, there are often security cameras located at stations, on trains and buses and multiple means to request law enforcement assistance.
A 2002 study of the Metro Green Line's existing 14 stations found that the introduction of transit tended to reduce crime in the surrounding communities. According to the study, although crime rates along the Metro Green Line corridor vary significantly, most station neighborhoods experienced no change in crime or witnessed a reduction in crime after construction of the Line. Researchers could not confirm a relationship between crime hot spots and proximity to a transit station, meaning that criminals have not used the Metro Green Line to access potential targets.
4.6. How will Metro address potential property acquisitions in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report will identify potential property required for the Metro Green Line Extension based on engineering plans, including potential full-takes, partial-takes and easements. In addition, the document will assess the effect of property acquisitions for each project alternative on local housing stock and businesses along the alignment as well as the requirement to terminate existing leases. Much of the project is expected to be built on the existing Metro-owned Harbor Subdivision right-of-way. Design will be refined throughout the environmental process, which could reduce the need to acquire property.
4.7. How will Metro address potential residential property value impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report?
Many home owners along the Metro Green Line Extension study corridor expressed concerns during the scoping process that the construction of new or expanded rail transit will reduce the value of residential properties adjacent to or near the proposed alignment and stations. Indirect impacts on property values will not be evaluated in this Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report document. Research is mixed about the effects of rail transit on the property values of nearby residential neighborhoods. Residential properties within walking distance of a station typically experience an increase in value as transit stations provide greater access to employment centers and other destinations.
4.8. How will Metro address noise impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report will include a noise assessment that will identify all sensitive land uses along the right-of-way where there is a potential for noise impacts. The assessment will identify existing noise exposure and calculate the noise associated with the proposed alternatives. Federal and state noise thresholds will be used to determine the severity of potential noise impacts. If necessary, the assessment will include recommendations for noise mitigation.
4.9. How will Metro address vibration impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report will include a vibration assessment that will identify all sensitive land uses along the right-of-way and the impact of the project on these properties. If necessary, the assessment will include recommendations for vibration mitigation.
4.10. How will noise and vibration levels for Light Rail Transit vehicles differ from existing freight trains?
Many residents who live along the Harbor Subdivision corridor are familiar with the noises and vibrations generated by the existing freight rail service in the area. Light Rail Transit (LRT) vehicles will sound and feel different than freight trains for a number of reasons, including their lighter weight, electric power sources and higher quality tracks. It is expected that a passing LRT vehicle for the Metro Green Line Extension would produce less noise and vibration than a passing freight train. Additionally, the noise volume from warning devices such as bells on the LRT vehicles and at the gates is less than the noise for similar devices for freight train operations. Further detail will be provided in the Noise and Vibration section of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report.
5.1. How will the alternatives be evaluated throughout the environmental process?
Alternatives will be evaluated based on a variety of measures, including: (1) Transportation System Performance (Travel time, system connectivity, intermodal compatibility and accessibility); (2) Cost Effectiveness; (3) Community Acceptability (including the attractiveness of the service); (4) Environmental Benefits & Impacts.
5.2. How will the preferred alternative be selected and how will a final decision be made?
The alternatives will be further defined and analyzed throughout the environmental process. After the Draft Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) is completed, approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for circulation and public review, the Metro Board will consider the environmental analysis and public comments to adopt a Locally Preferred Alternative.
If approval is received from the Metro Board to proceed, a Final EIS/EIR will be prepared. All public comments received during the circulation of the Draft EIS/EIR will be catalogued and addressed in the Final EIS/EIR. It will also formalize noise, vibration and other mitigation measures proposed in the draft document. After the Final EIS/EIR is completed and approved for circulation by the FTA, the Metro Board will certify the document and file a Notice of Determination and receive a Record of Decision from the FTA, to notify the public of the completion of the Final EIS/EIR and allow work to transition to design, construction and operation, depending upon funding availability.
5.3. What is Metro’s 30/10 Initiative?
The 30/10 Initiative would accelerate construction of the 12 transit corridors identified in Measure R, building 30 years of transit projects, including the Metro Green Line Extension, within a decade. The Initiative does not increase the amount of funding available, but it proposes to use the long-term revenue from the Measure R sales tax as collateral for long-term bonds and a federal loan.
5.4 Is the Metro Green Line Extension Fully Funded?
The Harbor Subdivision Alternatives Analysis Study completed in 2009 estimated the cost to extend the Metro Green Line 4.6 miles to Torrance at $500 million or $284 million to extend the Metro Green Line 2.1 miles to the proposed Redondo Beach Regional Transit Center at the South Bay Galleria (not including the cost of a required maintenance facility). Measure R earmarks approximately $272 million in 2008 dollars for the Metro Green Line Extension. This study will seek environmental clearance to Torrance, however, the project that may be built may be shorter due to the need to provide for a facility to maintain the South Bay Metro Green Line vehicles.
5.5. What is the construction schedule for the Metro Green Line Extension Project?
After conducting a public review of the project, the construction schedule will be predicated on sufficient funds being available. The 2009 Metro Long Range Transportation Plan specifies an opening date of 2035 for the Metro South Bay Green Line Extension. However, the Board adopted the 30/10 Initiative to accelerate funding, which is an effort to build all the Measure R projects in 10 years. If the 30/10 Initiative is successful, the project could open in 2018. We are working closely with the federal government to find ways to “advance” the funding for these projects. Any federal money not already presumed to be part of the funding for a project would be paid back by the local Measure R revenues over 30 years. US Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) & US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood have endorsed the concept. Information on Measure R and the 30/10 Initiative is available at www.metro.net.
5.6. If the Metro Green Line Extension project does not move forward, what would happen to the funding currently allocated to the project from Measure R?
If the project is not implemented, after notification to the public the Metro Board with a 2/3 majority could elect to move the funds to another transit project in the same sub-region(s). The Measure R Funding could also be redirected for a highway project in the same sub-region(s) after 2019 with the further approval of 2/3 of the Metro Board to transfer between Measure R transit and highway sub-funds..
5.7. Who can I contact for more information on the project or to arrange a presentation to my neighborhood or business organization?
Randy Lamm is the Project Manager for the Metro Green Line Extension. To provide input or request information you can contact the project team in the following ways:
One Gateway Plaza – MS 99-22-3
Los Angeles, CA 90012
metro.net/southbayextension (Click on “ Contact Us ”)