There Will Be a New Metro Light Rail Line, The West Santa Ana Transit Corridor.

LA TRANSPO - One of the newest light rail Metro projects, the West Santa Ana Transit Corridor, will serve an under-served area of Los Angeles County.  Where is the latecomer, time delaying, disruptive and unnecessary monorail alternative? 

From StreetsBlogLA, February 2, 2022: “Ultimately, the 19.3-mile light rail line will extend from Union Station through what are known as the Gateway Cities to a terminus in the city of Artesia, which nearly borders on Orange County.

The new line will serve the cities of Artesia, Cerritos, Bellflower, Paramount, Downey, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park, and Vernon, plus the unincorporated L.A. County’s Florence-Firestone, as well as downtown Los Angeles. The project benefits numerous low-income communities of color with greater population density and transit ridership levels than L.A. County as a whole.” 

And from “The Source,” Metro’s outreach program: “Spanning 19.3 miles, the new light rail project will include 12 stations connecting the Gateway Cities of Artesia, Cerritos, Bellflower, Paramount, Downey, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park, Vernon, the unincorporated Florence-Graham community and Downtown Los Angeles, with 1.4 million residents living near the route. The project will provide relief to the limited mobility and transit options currently available to these communities. Together, the Gateway Cities have populations and employment densities that are five times higher than the L.A. County average. In addition, the new light rail line will provide transfers to the Metro C Line (Green), Metro A Line (Blue) and the L.A. County regional transit network” 

This is fantastic news. This underserved area has great need for a light rail. The Metro Board is scheduled to certify the final EIR in Winter, 2022. 

The final certification should then begin the processes of building the line. Construction is scheduled from 2026-2033/35.  

Winter begins December 21, 2022, so it would appear that the exhaustive work of the EIR will not include an alternative to the Light Rail, such as the late-to-the-game monorail alternative to the subway for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. This is another sorely needed transit project slated for the Sepulveda Pass, to connect the Southern San Fernando Valley to West Los Angeles, including UCLA.  

When first proposed a subway was the only type of train for the project, and with the 405 Freeway in the middle of Sepulveda Pass, it was the most logical. One option is completely underground subway.  But, after the initial planning process at Metro began, a monorail alternative was inserted into the project. 

This transit project is a major construction job, requiring a major construction company with experience to handle the complexities of a construction project of this size. Bechtel, a massive company founded in 1898, with a very extensive history of successfully building very large construction project. Bechtel was the frontrunner, and only company for the project because of their long history of completing major construction jobs across the world, and experience in subways. 

But, somehow, a monorail alternative was inserted into the initial planning for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. There is no monorail in the U.S., and perhaps the world, with such a similar large construction project. The monorail intrusion into the project has cost taxpayers around $60Million to pay for the additional monorail studies. It may have slowed the entire process to make way for the latecomer. Yet, it remains in the initial planning. 

The West Santa Ana Transit Corridor with light rail seems well on its way to rightful final approval of the EIR to begin construction without a monorail alternative option. Why was a monorail alternative not included in the Santa Ana Transit Corridor studies? I don’t believe it should have been. And the question remains unanswered as to why a monorail alternative made its presence in the studies for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. 

(Matthew Hetz, a native to Los Angeles, is the past President of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony. His works can be found at https://www.matthewhetz.com. Also, he is an instructor at Emeritus/Santa Monica College, and is dedicated to improving transit and the environment. He is a contributor to CityWatchLA.com.)