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Construction Committee Approves Blue Line Improvement Study

Metro will study Improvement for its workhorse Blue Line light rail. Photo: ledtronics.com

This morning, the Metro board Construction Committee approved a motion to study improvements to the Metro Blue Line. The Blue Line is the oldest Metro rail line, the highest ridership line for Metro, and the highest ridership modern light rail line in the United States.

The motion was put forth by four boardmembers: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker. It calls for implementing short-term improvements and studying long-term improvements.

Short-term improvements would be focused on the street-running section of the line on Washington Boulevard and Flower Street in downtown Los Angeles. Improvements could include signal optimization, signal priority, signal preemption, and possible street closures. Improvements on Flower would serve both the Blue and Expo Lines.

Long-term improvements could include:

    • creating Blue Line peak-hour express service
    • grade separation on Washington and Flower in downtown L.A.
    • grade separation and/or station relocation at Wardlow Station in Long Beach
    • additional grade separation along the entire Blue Line

Mayor Garcia stressed the importance of the Blue Line connecting Los Angeles County's two largest downtowns, Long Beach and Los Angeles. Garcia called the Blue Line the original "subway to the sea" emphasizing that it connects inland communities to coastal resources. Garcia asserted that the Blue Line's downtown Long Beach terminus should, through infrastructure and signage, welcome riders to the coast, similar to how the downtown Santa Monica Expo Station does.

Metro CEO Phil Washington stated that he would like to "start now" on downtown Long Beach improvements and that especially signage could be upgraded right away.

Garcia also expressed his support for future express service. Supervisor Hahn professed her support for further grade separation, but was skeptical about express service, fearing that express line will limit community access.

Public testimony from downtown L.A.'s South Park BID and Central City Association was supportive of the motion, especially for grade separation in downtown L.A., including Pico Station.

The motion was amended twice in committee. Garcia requested that the study include the above-mentioned coastal connections. Dupont-Walker requested that graffiti abatement also be included.

The Construction Committee approved the motion unanimously. If approved by the full board next week, Metro staff would report back with further details in July.

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