Metro Tunnel Under DTLA 7th Street Expected Complete Late 2015

Rendering of what the new 7th Street Station portal will look like from inside The Bloc.
Rendering of what the new 7th Street Station portal will look like from inside The Bloc. Image via Studio One Eleven

Step aside, North Hollywood. Keep chugging along, Purple and Crenshaw lines, and Regional Connector. Wait a while, preferably a long, long while, South Pasadena.

The first of new Metro’s new tunnels underway is expected to be completed late this year. It will be under 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles. It may not be long or expensive, but it represents an interesting change in the orientation of L.A.’s downtown landscape. It expands downtown’s connection with the Metro Red, Purple, Blue, and Expo Lines. When the current subways first arrived in downtown L.A. in 1992, downtown businesses and development were perhaps a bit standoffish, not fully eager to embrace transit access. Now, downtown development, in the light of demographic shifts toward transit, walking and bicycling, and is re-orienting itself to better connect.

The 1970s mall on the south side of 7th Street from Flower Street to Hope Street is getting a $180 million mixed-use makeover. It will no longer be Macy’s Plaza, but The Bloc. Though it will still have a lot of that ’70s-era parking, new residents and retail customers will have easy access to Metro’s subway lines.

Streetsblog mentioned the tunnel briefly in April, when the Metro board approved the agency’s $4.6 million portion of the project budget [PDF], representing roughly half of the cost of the tunnel. Metro also approved the terms of the agreement that assigns responsibilities for construction, maintenance, etc., and that mandates the tunnel be open to the public at least from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Now that the construction is underway, expected to be completed by the end of 2015, here is a more detailed post to show readers more of the how, where, and when of the tunnel. 

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Cutaway view looking west. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]
The Bloc, located on the south side of 7th Street, will feature a large, open-air multi-level retail area. To access the underground station from the sidewalk, people will descend stairways/escalators or two elevators. Escalators, stairs, and elevators are located at and maintained by The Bloc.

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Plan view of the 7th Street Station Mezzanine level with new tunnel to The Bloc. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]
The tunnel will connect into the southeast corner of the existing station, near the intersection of Hope Street and 7th Street.

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New tunnel will connect to this southeast corner of the Metro 7th Street Station. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Above is the current view inside Metro’s 7th Street station where the future tunnel will connect. The tunnel will access the station by the ticket vending machines near the underground Wetzel’s Pretzels, outside the TAP turnstiles. The lit signage in the middle of the photo is on a knock-out panel, which will be removed to make way for the tunnel.

This corner of downtown is poised to become even more livable with the other excellent surface projects on the way, too. In the near future, transit riders can disembark here, hop on Metro Bike-Share and ride the My Figueroa and 7th Street streetscape projects, both of which will include protected bike lanes.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Interesting! I originally thought the connection to The Bloc would be an offshoot of the 7th & Flower portal, but I can see how the 7th & Hope route makes more sense.

    I hope this new portal will force Metro to *finally* update the permanent signage at this station. It’s taking a bit too long, methinks.

  • elson

    “It expands downtown’s connection with the Metro Red, Purple, Gold, and Expo Lines.”

    I think you meant Blue and not Gold…

    Can’t wait to use this new entrance!

  • michael macdonald

    So excited for this.

  • Ginny Brideau

    Also…added bonus…maybe there won’t be all the pedestrian congestion up top. And, if LAPD ever gets back into the Jaywalking-Ticket-Business… we have a legitimate way to avoid it.

  • Scott

    On a recent trip to SF, I couldn’t help but notice how easy it was to get from the Westfield Centre on Market back to where I was staying in SoMa, thanks to a portal just like this. Glad to hear it’s happening and that it will be completed in an almost unheard of time-frame for a Metro project of any length.

  • Steven White

    I think they’ll probably wait until the Regional Connector to permanently update the signage… considering it will have to be changed yet again.

  • Steven White

    This also adds an ADA exit on the Hope Street side, which currently is not ADA accessible (even though there’s an ADA fare gate).

  • LAifer

    LAPD remains very much in the Jaywalking-Ticket business. I usually see them outside the 7th St/Metro station once a week, handing out tickets as fast as they can.

  • Dwight Sturtevant

    Joe Linton ,,the Image from Studio One Eleven is Missing the Expo Line

  • Alex Brideau III

    That would be a good addition, though I suspect one reason the ADA-style gate is already present is to allow bike users in and out while discouraging their use of the emergency exits.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I understand the rationale, but that justification is wearing a bit thin. At this point, there at least 3 forthcoming events that should trigger some new signage at 7th St/Metro Center. As far as I can figure, that would be {1} the switchover from color-based to letter-based line names, {2} the debut of the new station portal linking to The Bloc, and finally {3} the debut of the Regional Connector. To me, putting off signage updates becomes a slippery slope. When 2019 rolls around, will Metro then say, “Well, the Gold/A Line extension is coming, so let’s hold off a little longer?”

    I would think the cost of updating station signage would be built into each of these projects. Otherwise we leave one of the Metro system’s busiest stations with perpetually out-of-date signage.

  • Joe Linton

    You’re right – corrected

  • elson

    Alex, didn’t you know? the 7th St/Metro Center is like a transit speakeasy…only people in the know, know it exists. :)

  • Alex Brideau III

    Yay! I shall interpret this to mean that Joe has also corrected Metro’s omission of a 5th St/Flower station. Thanks, Joe! Who knew it was that easy to get a station added! :-)

  • Actually, I believe it is present because its installation was okayed by someone who did not use the system, as many Metro and Cubic employees were (and still are) back when this was latched.:

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/08/07/a-tip-to-metro-at-7th-street-metro-center-signage-needed-for-your-wheel-chair-passengers/

  • Have you ever tried to follow the signage to the Silver Line? Fun!

  • Joe Linton

    But I like pedestrian congestion! I live for it! It’s not a problem

  • Joe Linton

    Ah – the tremendous power of Streetsblog Los Angeles!!!

  • jojopuppyfish

    I just visited LA….I am amazing that LA Downtown is getting better.
    They really need to convert many of the parking lots into parks

  • James Fujita

    if this new subway station mall entrance is as popular as the ones in Tokyo, there should be plenty of congestion for you to enjoy in the tunnel

  • jennix

    … and it’s ukelele friendly.

  • Alex Brideau III

    The wheelchair icon should definitely be removed or covered with a bike/stroller icons instead.

  • F. Andres Di Zitti

    Hahaha, my understanding is that the ADA gate was actually installed there so that an ADA patron could access the TVMs if they came up on that side when transferring between Red/Purple to or from Blue/Expo without having to go to one of the other 2 entrances that was accessible. Imagine a person on a wheelchair comes of the Red Line, goes up to transfer to Blue via the elevator closest to Hope St and realized they don’t have enough fare on their card. Are you really going to make them go all the way to the TVMs on the Flower or Figueroa portals???

  • Alex Brideau III

    “Are you really going to make them go all the way to the TVMs on the Flower or Figueroa portals???”

    Apparently those who planned the station design felt it was OK to make them go all the way to those portals to enter and exit. And the convenience of being able to access the TVMs at Hope St is tempered by the inconvenience of not being able to exit there, or worse, the possiblity of trying to exit and then being locked out. (The latter is probably less of a concern nowadays because of Metro use of time-based fares.)

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