What is the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor Project (WSAB Project)?
The WSAB Project is an approximately 19-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 downtown Los Angeles, unincorporated Florence-Graham community of LA 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.
What is Light Rail Transit (LRT)?
LRT has its own dedicated track system which separates it from regular traffic, has low-floor boarding and has more distance between stops. It acts very much like heavy rail, although LRT vehicles are smaller and have slower operating speeds. LRT vehicles are powered by electricity, quiet and typically contain three cars. LRTs can carry more passengers than a regular bus, making it ideal in a growing environment.
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.
What is the environmental process for this project?
The WSAB Project’s environmental process is well defined by federal requirements stipulated in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state environmental requirements stipulated in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 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.
Metro formally initiated the environmental studies with the original public scoping meetings in summer 2017, and later held updated public scoping meetings in summer 2018 to get feedback on the northern alignment. The flow chart below highlights the major milestones in the process from beginning to end. The project is currently in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/ Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) study phase .
Various topics will be addressed in the environmental document including land use and planning noise and vibration, transportation and traffic, parking, air quality, construction impacts – to name a few – and mitigation measures will be identified, and community input gathered, incorporated and used to select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA).
What alternatives are being considered for the WSAB Project?
The northern portion of the corridor has two alternatives that were approved for further study by the Metro Board of Directors on May 24, 2018 to be carried forward in the Draft EIS/EIR:
- Alternative E: Union Station (underground)
- Alternative G: Downtown Transit Core (underground)
Both of these alternatives will be underground heading north from the I-10 freeway into downtown LA. WSAB then stretches primarily at-grade, with some aerial structures, from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Electric Right-of-Way (ROW) and continues south on the Pacific Electric ROW/WSAB Corridor to the City of Artesia.
In addition, station location options are being considered for the termini stations proposed for Alternatives E & G. In December 2018, the Metro Board took action that resulted in changes to some of the termini station options being considered for Alternatives E & G including:
- Alternative E: Alameda - Union Station Forecourt – station was relocated further east of Alameda Street, closer to Union Station.
- Alternative E: MWD design option – no changes
- Alternative G1: 7th St/Metro Center – no changes
- Alternative G2: Pershing Square design option – station was removed from further consideration.
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 2020, 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 the Metro Board will select an LPA.
When will this project be constructed?
This project is part of the Twenty-Eight by ‘28 initiative that highlights 28 Metro projects for potential completion by the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, a large part of the funding for the project is currently anticipated to become available in two cycles – FY 2028 and FY 2041. Metro is currently assessing financing methods that can help expedite the funding availability for the project, including a Public Private Partnership.
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 ongoing public meetings (please use the comment form to request to be added to the mailing list in order to receive notices for future meetings)
- Review and comment on the Draft EIS/EIR when circulated for public review (2020)
- Attend public hearings regarding the Draft EIS/EIR (2020)
- Review responses to comments on the Final EIS/EIR (2021)
- 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 Project 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 currently has a total projected construction cost of $6.5—$6.6 billion. 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.
Per Measure M and Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) financial forecast, as amended, the Project has a $4 billion (B) (2015$) allocation of funding (comprised of Measure M and other local, state, and federal sources). Per Measure M, funding becomes available in two cycles as follows:
Measure M Expected Opening Date
LRTP Funding Allocation (2015$)
$1 billion ($535 million Measure M)
$3 billion ($900 million Measure M)
This project is also part of the Twenty-Eight by ‘28 initiative that highlights 28 Metro projects for potential completion by the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
How were the Northern Alignment Alternatives developed?
During the public scoping process conducted in June 2017, the WSAB Project Team received over 1,000 written and oral comments from the public. A large portion of the comments contained specific concerns regarding the original Northern Alignment Alternatives 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 revisited and expanded the original Northern Alignment Alternatives.
In May 2018, the Metro Board selected two alternatives for the Northern Alignment Alternatives. An updated scoping process was conducted in summer 2018 to receive formal public comments on the proposed project alternatives. Based on the feedback received through the updated scoping period (summer 2018), and other ongoing outreach efforts, the Metro Board considered and took action in December 2018 that updated the project definition.
Is there any possibility of accelerating the project timeline?
The WSAB Project Team is currently exploring Public Private Partnerships (P3) as the delivery method for this project to expedite project delivery. This project is also part of the Twenty-Eight by ‘28 initiative that highlights 28 Metro projects for potential completion by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.