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Metro Board of Directors Approves Further Study of Washington Boulevard Alternative for the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2

Friday February 28, 2020

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors narrowed the list of potential routes for an eastern extension of the Gold Line from its current terminus in East Los Angeles.

The Board approved focusing further studies on a route that would follow both Atlantic Boulevard and Washington Boulevard to Whittier. Proposed stations along this route would be located in East L.A., Commerce, Montebello, Pico Rivera, unincorporated Los Nietos, Santa Fe Springs and Whittier. The route includes an underground segment under Atlantic Boulevard and both street-level and aerial segments along Washington Boulevard.

Withdrawn from further study was a route alongside the SR-60 freeway to South El Monte and a route between Whittier and South El Monte. Technical studies found there were too many environmental and engineering challenges to build a rail line along the SR-60. Among the issues were avoiding a Superfund site with contaminated soil and allowing for enough space for Caltrans’ planned widening of the SR-60. There were also significant impacts to private property, homes and environmentally sensitive areas. Additionally, this route lacked the space for a needed adequately-sized rail yard.

The Board also adopted a motion directing Metro to build a high-quality transit service in the SR-60 corridor and to honor Measure R funding to the San Gabriel Valley. Metro staff will report back to the Board this spring on funding options.

“This was a difficult decision, but the right decision based on comprehensive studies over the last decade,” said Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Chair James Butts. “I believe we have charted a clear course going forward and that we’ll build a great rail line on the Washington alignment and find ways to better connect other communities to the Metro system.”

To expedite the environmental study process, the Board approved continuing the state-required part of the studies (known as CEQA) and discontinuing the federally required part of the studies (known as NEPA). NEPA would need to be completed for the project to be eligible for federal funding, but Metro does not see that as problematic given that other Metro projects are more likely to attract federal dollars.

“All communities within the project’s study area deserve a state-of-the-art transit system,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Hilda L. Solis. “Not only will we move forward with the Washington alternative, but we will also conduct a feasibility study to identify how we can effectively meet the transportation needs of residents along the SR-60 corridor.”

“The Washington alternative will help connect more people to jobs, schools and all the important destinations our county has to offer,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Janice Hahn. “I represent many of the communities along the Washington Alternative and can tell you that they have been mobilizing for years in preparation for this possibility and are ready to partner with Metro in any way they can to make this project a reality.”

The project has $6 billion in funding scheduled in two phases with $3 billion available beginning in 2029 and $3 billion available beginning in 2053. Metro is investigating ways it might be possible to accelerate rail in this corridor.

“An extension of the Gold Line is an important part of Metro’s plan to create a world class system that allows customers to easily ride from one side of the county to the other,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Today’s Board action was a needed step toward completing the planning of this project.”

About Metro
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is unique among the nation’s transportation agencies. Created in 1993, Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that transports about 1.3 million passengers daily on a fleet of 2,200 clean air buses and six rail lines. The agency also oversees bus, rail, highway and other mobility-related building projects and leads transportation planning and programming for Los Angeles County.

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