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SGV Transit Feasibility Study to Create Short, Long Term Roadmap for Mass Transit in Region

The San Gabriel Valley Transit Feasibility is expected to offer a number of mass transit proposals between downtown Los Angeles, South El Monte and further East. Image: San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments

The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments is beginning a study to plan mass transit alternative facilities for the SGV. The $1.5 million San Gabriel Valley Transit Feasibility Study arose from the Metro board's decision earlier this year to not pursue a proposed State Route 60 light rail alignment for the Eastside L Line (formerly Gold Line) extension.

"The [L Line] 60 [Freeway] alignment is no longer a feasible alternative," said Mark Christoffels, director of capital projects for the SGVCOG, at last month's SGVCOG transportation committee meeting. "What that means for the SGV of course is that we have a transit hole that will ultimately need to be filled.”

The project area will stretch from downtown Los Angeles to South El Monte, and roughly between Valley Boulevard and the SR-60. The study will also look further east to areas that neither the Foothill Gold Line or Metrolink currently serve, nor are planned to be served in the future.

The study is expected to start next year and be completed by September 2022.

In February, the Metro board of directors shelved the 60-freeway alignment in favor of the Washington Boulevard alignment for the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 project. The Washington Boulevard route goes through unincorporated East L.A., and other gateway cities including Montebello, Commerce, Pico Rivera, and Santa Fe Springs to a terminus in Whittier.

After the cancellation, the Metro board allocated $1.5 million in its 2021 fiscal year budget to complete the SGV study and directed staff to coordinate with SGVCOG staff. Measure R funds that were included in the canceled 60 Freeway L Line alignment will be used to develop and build the SGV transit feasibility study plans. More than $635.5 million in Measures M and R funds — originally slated for the Eastside Gold Line — will be available to design and build new SGV mass transit.

At a minimum, shorter-term ideas will include bus rapid transit, modifying existing bus service, or creating dedicated shuttle buses. Consultants will develop up to three longer-term concepts which can include converting one or more short term ideas to long term ones or transitioning bus service to rail. Other options can include light rail, monorail, or other mass rapid transit.

While the request for proposal asks to consider transit-oriented development and transit-oriented communities, SGVCOG staff will be asking bidders to consider how these transit improvements can connect to jobs and housing, especially with many of these cities needing to meet updated Regional Housing Needs Assessment standards, noted Christoffels.

“Historically, we provided transit where we found a need, but we haven’t... [asked] 'where is the prospective growth going to occur in transit demand?'” Christoffels said. “One of the things the consultants will be asked to do is to take a look at these general plans that are being produced by each of the communities and to look prospectively forward at where transit will be needed as a result of that future development.”

Christoffels predicted one of the findings that might surprise people is a change in the direction these mass transit options have traveled. Past studies have looked at east-west travel, but he expects the new study's findings to also include north-south transit options.

“I think we’ve always been east-west focused with basically assuming everyone was going to downtown L.A. I think that’s definitely not the case anymore and we’re probably going to be surprised by some of the study results that show we need a little more north-south transit as well as the east-west that we would traditionally put in place,” Christoffels said.

SBLA San Gabriel Valley coverage, including this article and SGV Connect, is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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