If you’re looking for a vision for a sustainable transportation plan for the Downtown Stadium, you shouldn’t look to politicians or even AEG executives. A group of Sierra Club activists, led by Jerard Wright Angeles Chapter Transportation Committee Co-Chair, have outlined a transportation plan that would fulfill AEG’s claims that Farmers Field will encourage more sustainable transportation options than a rival stadium plan in the suburban City of Industry.
The key to providing real rail transit options is a series of major upgrades to the existing station at Pico and 12th, a rail station that in the Wrights’ words, is a “20 year old station that looks like it’s 50 years old.” The Sierra Club’s presentation asks for the environmental documents for the stadium to include major upgrades to the Pico Station, bike facilities at the events center and nearby facilities, and streetscape upgrades that actually encourage transportation uses.
“Win or lose this is something AEG needs to do,” Wright said referring to the impacts Staples and L.A. Live are having on the already stressed transit station, “If we’re really serious about making L.A. a transit city, this is one way to do that.”
The first step to creating a great transportation plan for Farmer’s Field is to recognize the importance of the Pico Station. Currently, the station serves only the Blue Line (and soon the Expo Line) and it’s still overcrowded after Lakers games. An NFL Stadium can hold nearly four times as many people as Staples Center, so even if the Regional Connector is years away and plans for a Downtown Streetcar are sketchy, the station will need major upgrades just to handle the demand for the Blue Line. Once the Connector is built, the station will be a hub of activity on game day as fans will be able to access the entire Metro rail system from one stop.
The current design of the station won’t just create inconvenience for the thousands of football fans who wish to use it, it will also create a dangerous situation. Queuing at the station entrances due to passengers paying their fares at the ticket machines on the station platform will lead to passengers stuck on the tracks without major renovations. When you consider that many people exiting NFL Football contests or major concerts aren’t always in a sober state of mind, the problem gets worse.
While the Sierrans propose four different options for the Stadium, it seems that in the long run the third option presented, the “Platform by Destination” design is best. When the Connector is completed, passengers will be able to access the Blue Line, Expo Line, Foothill Gold Line and East Los Angeles Gold Line at one place.
The plan includes more than just transit improvements. Wright notes that the progressive “Figueroa Corridor Project” ends mere blocks away from the transit center. Extending the protected bike lanes, streetscaping and wide sidewalks just a couple more blocks to the center will create the pedestrian friendly atmosphere that will draw people to the Stadium.
In the end, the Sierra Club has its own list of three things that AEG needs to include in the final plan to pass muster with the environmental community. Wright sees the list more as a guide on how to do things right more than a list of demands intended to hamstring the project. “As AEG moves forward with its outreach and process, it makes sense for the Sierra Club to be involved,” Wright added, “I don’t want the mitigation component used as a scapegoat not to do anything.”
- The project shall provide capital and operating expenditures of the adjacent Pico Metro Rail Station for modernization and facility upgrades to handle the larger demand of patrons using transit to access Farmers Field,
- Improved streetscapes that encourage pedestrian mobility along Figueroa, Flower, Olympic, 11th, 12th, and Pico Boulevard for pedestrians to connect to and from transit facilities to Farmer’s Field,
- The project shall fund bike parking, lockers and dedicated bike lane facility investment surrounding the event center
Councilman Rosendahl is holding a public meeting with AEG executive Tim Leiweke next Monday. Streetsblog will be certain to discuss the Sierra Club’s plan with both of them and will give you their thoughts.