What is the West Santa Ana Branch (WSAB) Transit Corridor?
The West Santa Ana Branch (WSAB) Transit Corridor Project (Project) is a 20-mile corridor being evaluated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) for a new light rail transit (LRT) line to provide reliable transit service to meet the future mobility needs of residents, employees, and visitors who travel within the Study Area. The new LRT line would connect Downtown Los Angeles to southeast Los Angeles County, serving the cities and communities of Arts District, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, unincorporated Florence-Graham community of Los Angeles County, Vernon, Huntington Park, Bell, Cudahy, South Gate, Downey, Paramount, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia. WSAB is currently undergoing environmental analysis, in compliance with federal and state requirements, to prepare the corridor for LRT use.
Where is the WSAB Transit Corridor located?
The WSAB Transit Corridor would extend approximately 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles through southeast Los Angeles County (LA County), traversing densely populated, low-income and transit-dependent communities. The WSAB Transit Corridor stretches approximately 12 miles from Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Electric Right-of-Way (ROW) and continues 8 miles south on the Pacific Electric ROW/WSAB Corridor to the City of Artesia.
What is Light Rail Transit (LRT)?
LRT is an electric train that typically runs at street level or elevated and is designed to provide residents and businesses with safe, affordable and efficient transportation options. LRT can run throughout the corridor to connect pedestrians with storefronts, sidewalk cafes, parks, and promenades. LRT rail cars run relatively quietly on electricity with three cars typically connected. LRT functions best as a local service with station stops that are typically one mile apart.
What are the benefits of this project?
This new transit service will increase mobility and connectivity for historically underserved, transit-dependent and diverse communities; reduce travel times on local and regional transportation networks; and accommodate substantial future employment and population growth. In addition, the Project is expected to provide a direct connection to the Metro Green Line, Metro Blue Line and the Los Angeles County regional transit network. Per the Measure M Expenditure Plan, the WSAB Project is anticipated to break ground in 2022.
Why is it named WSAB Transit Corridor?
The Project’s name originates from the southern portion of the route south of the Metro Green Line that followed an old street car alignment known as the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor.
What is the environmental process for this project?
The WSAB Project’s development process is well defined by federal and state environmental requirements stipulated in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The alternatives identified in the Technical Refinement Study (TRS) and approved by the Metro Board of Directors in April 2017 will be further analyzed in the Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR), mitigation measures identified and community input gathered, incorporated and used to select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). During the environmental process, public scoping meetings and hearings, along with interim project update meetings, will take place along the corridor to engage the community, solicit input and address questions.
Per NEPA/CEQA requirements, public scoping meetings and hearings are held during the environmental process. Scoping meetings are held to initiate the study process and collect initial public input. Public hearings are held after the Draft EIS/EIR is released for comments to present an overview of the results of the Draft EIS/EIR and to formally record public comments. In addition, Metro is committed to a comprehensive outreach program that provides project stakeholders with the necessary tools and resources to be educated, informed and to provide valuable input at key milestones. The following flow chart highlights the major milestones in this process.
What kind of document is being prepared?
As part of the environmental process, Metro has initiated the development of an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR). An EIS is required by NEPA for projects requiring federal action where there may be significant impacts to the environment. An EIR is similar to an EIS, except that this document is required by CEQA. 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.
Among other environmental factors, the study addresses traffic, air quality, noise, visual, environmental justice, and construction impacts, to name a few. The purpose of the EIS/EIR is to provide a full and open evaluation of impacts associated with the project 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.
What alternatives are being considered for the WSAB Transit Corridor?
There is only one project alternative being considered between the Southern Terminus at the proposed Pioneer Station in the City of Artesia and the proposed Florence/Salt Lake Station in the City of Huntington Park. However, the remaining northern portion currently has four alignment options, as developed and recommended through the TRS and the Northern Alignment Options Screening Report, including:
- Option A: Pacific/Alameda (7.4 miles)
- Option B: Pacific/Vignes (7.2 miles)
- Option C: Alameda (8.0 miles)
Option D: Alameda/Vignes (8.1 miles)
In addition, the Project will evaluate an optional station at Bloomfield Avenue (just north of the Los Angeles County-Orange County boundary) in the event that the WSAB line was to be extended to Orange County in the future.
Who will select the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) and when is this decision anticipated?
Throughout the course of the environmental study, project alternatives will be analyzed and refined to minimize impacts and maximize their potential benefits. A Draft EIS/EIR will be released for public review and comment in fall 2018, and public hearings will be conducted along the corridor. At the conclusion of the public comment period, Metro staff will review all public comments and a staff recommended LPA will be presented to the Metro Board of Directors in fall 2018 for their consideration.
When will this project be constructed?
Per the Measure M Expenditure Plan, construction for the WSAB Project is anticipated to break ground in 2022.
How can local communities and the general public participate in this process?
There are several public involvement opportunities throughout the environmental process for this project, including:
- Participate in the Public Scoping Meetings (June 2017)
- Review and comment on the Draft EIS/EIR when circulated for public review (Late 2018; dates TBD)
- Attend public hearings regarding the Draft EIS/EIR (Late 2018; dates TBD)
- Review responses to comments on the Final EIS/EIR (Late 2018; dates TBD)
- Submit a request to Metro for a project briefing or presentation to your organization or group
- Keep checking the project website and/or helpline for regular updates
- Submit a request to be added to the Project database to receive updates on upcoming outreach activities and other Project-related notices
How is this project being funded?
The WSAB Transit Corridor is one of twelve (12) projects funded by Measure R, a one-half cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2008. The Project is also identified in Metro’s 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The Project has a total projected construction cost of $4.3 - $4.6 billion (2015 Metro TRS). Funding sources for construction include Measure M, approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2016 to add a half-cent sales tax and extend the existing Measure R half-cent initiative, and other state and federal sources.
Why are these new refined Northern Alignment options being proposed? How did this come about?
During the Public Scoping process conducted in June 2017, the WSAB Project Team received 1,122 written and oral comments from the public. A large portion of the comments contained specific concerns regarding the original Northern Alignment options in the downtown Los Angeles area, particularly in Little Tokyo, the Arts District and the Industrial District related to the proposed at-grade or aerial alignments along Alameda Street. In addition, High Speed Rail, Metrolink and the Federal Railroad Administration expressed concerns about how the proposed alternatives could affect existing or planned capacity for regional rail services at Union Station. In response to these comments and availability of updated technical information, the WSAB Project Team is revisiting and expanding the original Northern Alignment options.
The original alignments all terminated at Union Station. Why is Metro looking at alignments that terminate elsewhere in downtown Los Angeles?
Metro is taking this opportunity to assess where within downtown Los Angeles would serve where riders want to go, along with providing the greatest benefits in terms of connectivity to the transit network and accessibility to key employment and cultural destinations for riders from southeast Los Angeles County.
Why are stations not shown for some of the new refined Northern Alignment options?
The new Northern Alignment options are still very conceptual in nature. Exact alignment routes and potential station locations are to be determined during the focused Northern Alignment alternatives analysis.
Are any studies being conducted on the Southern Alignment as well?
Based on the Public Scoping Comments received, one of the considerations of the new refined Northern Alignment options is to assess how the project can link southeast Los Angeles County communities to downtown Los Angeles employment and cultural destinations. The environmental clearance document and associated analyses will include the entire project corridor. Concurrently, Metro is conducting a Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) Strategic Implementation Plan for the entire corridor, and the TOC analysis has already begun on the southern alignment. Once the northern alignment options have been finalized, the Strategic Implementation Plan will include a unified vision for TOC implementation for the entire WSAB corridor. TOC is a holistic approach to coordinating Metro’s transit investments in partnership with local agencies having land use planning authority.
What type of analysis will be conducted on the new refined Northern Alignment options and how do you determine which of the Northern Alignment options to move forward?
The WSAB Project Team will conduct a variety of analyses related to the new refined Northern Alignment options including ridership, costs, impacts and constructability, among others. The results of these analyses will be a focused Northern Alignment alternatives analysis that will be presented to the Metro Board in late spring 2018 for review and a decision on which Northern Alignment options to carry forward in the environmental review process.
How will these new refined Northern Alignment options impact the project timeline?
In late spring 2018, we anticipate the Metro Board will determine which Northern Alignment alternatives will be carried forward into the environmental process. Work continues on the Southern Alignment. Metro remains committed to moving this project forward as quickly as possible. Community update meetings and official public hearings will be held at key milestone points. The first groundbreaking date remains FY 2022, per the voter-approved Measure M. The project remains on schedule and Metro is actively pursuing opportunities to accelerate delivery of WSAB.
Is there any possibility of accelerating the project timeline?
Yes, the WSAB Project Team is currently exploring Public Private Partnerships (P3) as the delivery method for this project which could possibly lead to cost and time savings. Additionally, this project has been included in the proposed “Twenty-Eight by ‘28’” initiative as an aspirational project schedule to be completed early in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
Does this mean that the original Northern Alignment options are no longer being considered for this project?
No. The original Northern Alignment options are still under consideration and upon completion of the focused Northern Alignment alternatives analysis, will be evaluated in comparison to the new Northern Alignment options to determine which best meet the project’s goals, including:
1. Provide mobility improvements
2. Support local and regional land use plans and policies
3. Minimize environmental impacts
4. Ensure cost effectiveness and financial feasibility
5. Promote equity
Are there any opportunities for public comment on the new Northern Alignment options?
Yes. Community update meetings will be held in March along the project corridor to provide the public with an update on the new Northern Alignment options, answer questions and obtain feedback. Public outreach and engagement efforts will continue throughout this process.