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.

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