Metro Recommends Gold Line Extension to Whittier, Votes Thursday

Metro Recommends Gold Line Extension to Whittier, Votes Thursday

The Metro Gold Line may finally come to Whittier: such is the recommendation posited by Metro staff at a series of community meetings that took place on the Eastside between February 3 and 8.

Those meetings announce a recommendation to go forward with studies for the Washington Boulevard alternative for extending the Eastside Gold Line, while dropping from consideration a route that would have paralleled the 60 Freeway from East L.A. to South El Monte. This recommendation will go to a vote at a February 27 meeting of the Metro Board of Directors.

If approved, CEQA analysis, feasibility studies and Title VI analysis will be conducted in the next 2-3 years, with ground broken in the late 2020s, and an expected opening date in the 2030s. However, project accelerations due to Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Olympic Games could alter the timing.

When completed, the Washington Boulevard route would run under Atlantic Boulevard between the present terminus of the Gold Line and the Citadel Outlets, then along Washington Blvd (in some combination of at-grade and elevated) to a terminus at Lambert Road. Six new stations would be added along this route, including one at Washington and Norwalk in Los Nietos and another near Whittier’s PIH Hospital.

The staff report cited several reasons to scuttle the CA-60 alternative and move forward with the Washington Blvd (Whittier) alternative. These included:

  • The complexity of building a light-rail line adjacent to a freeway that is slated to be widened in the coming years
  • The need to relocate major power lines
  • Impacts to land use (the CA-60 alternative borders both a Superfund site and a wildlife preserve)
  • Lack of land for a maintenance and storage facility
  • Lower ridership projections than the Washington Blvd alternative, due to significantly lower transit-dependent populations on the CA-60 alternative and less connectivity to existing street networks
  • Less compatibility with Metro adopted policies, particularly concerning transit-oriented development

The decision to move forward was assisted by a reversal on the part of the Montebello City Council, which now supports the Washington Boulevard alternative after previously supporting the CA-60 Alternative. However, concerns persist about the Washington Boulevard alignment among South Montebello neighbors, who worry that the Gold Line would slice their neighborhood in twain and increase congestion.

Local sustainable transit advocate Jayro Queme highlighted the Gold Line connecting to the Expo Line via the under-construction Regional Connector project, noting, “Something that isn’t emphasized much is that when this extension is operating it won’t just run to Downtown Los Angeles. It will actually connect all the way to Downtown Santa Monica, just a few minutes from the beach.” Queme also noted that Metro is transitioning their naming scheme for rail and busways, which will replace line colors with letters.

Whittier Councilman Henry Bouchot also pointed out some benefits to the Gold Line’s arrival in Whittier. These included:

  • Easier access to westward amenities such as Dodgers Stadium, LAX, and the L.A. County Museum of Art
  • More people visiting our businesses such as PIH, meaning more jobs here
  • Making people in the region more cognizant of Whittier, which could help to make Whittier College, Uptown and other locations regional destinations
  • Providing Whittier residents with an alternative to driving for their commutes, reducing our community’s carbon footprint

Concerned citizens are encouraged to speak in support of the Washington Boulevard alignment at Metro’s next board meeting.  The meeting will be held at 1 Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station) on Thursday, February 27 at 10am.

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