Friday Round-Up: River Bridge Opening [Canceled], Metro Rail, and Ktown Rocks

The new Elysian Valley L.A. River bridge opens next month. May 2021 construction photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
The new Elysian Valley L.A. River bridge opens next month. May 2021 construction photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

For your Presidents Day weekend reading, a few short updates:

CANCELED – Elysian Valley Ped/Bike Bridge Opening March 5

Updated 2/19: SBLA received word from the Elysian Valley Arts Collective – the city contacted them telling them that the March 5 bridge opening has been canceled.

The Elysian Valley Arts Collective, host of the Frogtown Arts Walk, announced a Saturday March 5 grand opening date for the new footbridge over the L.A. River. The new bike/ped bridge spans between L.A. City neighborhoods of Elysian Valley/Frogtown and Cypress Park – through the former railyard called Taylor Yard, now slated for large-scale habitat restoration.

Save the date
Save the date

Streetsblog has reported on the bridge’s construction progress; it appeared more-or-less complete late last year and has already been unofficially open at least some of the time.

Elysian Valley's Taylor Yard bridge under construction in May 2021. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Elysian Valley’s Taylor Yard bridge under construction in May 2021. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro Light Rail Construction – Crenshaw/LAX and Regional Connector Neck and Neck

At yesterday’s Construction Committee meeting, Metro staff reported somewhat encouraging news that construction is wrapping up on two delayed light rail lines: Crenshaw/LAX and Regional Connector. When contractor construction is “substantially complete,” Metro takes control of the line, then does about six months of testing and training, before opening the line to the public.

The Crenshaw/LAX line will extend 8 miles from Crenshaw E Line Station to Aviation C Line Station near LAX (with a Airport Connector station coming soon). The Regional Connector subway will extend 1.8 miles under downtown Los Angeles, tying together the existing A, E, and L Lines. Both are expected to open roughly a year from now – probably late 2022 or early 2023.

Metro staff explained when the agency is taking over which parts of which lines – noting “they’re following exactly the same timeline”:

  • Crenshaw/LAX is broken into three segments. Metro expects to take over two-thirds of the project in 4-6 weeks – late March to mid-April. Then the third segment will take another month to month and a half from then – so by early June. If that schedule holds up (unfortunately that hasn’t been the case with the oft-delayed Crenshaw Line so far), then six months of Metro testing would put an opening around December 2022.
  • The Regional Connector is broken into two segments: underground right-of-way and surface. Metro expects to take the r-o-w over in late March, and then take the surface portion over in the end of May. Like Crenshaw, if that schedule holds (Connector construction had delays early on – but appears to be proceeding fairly well), then, after testing, the Connector could also open to the public around December 2022.

What do you think readers? Which will open first: Crenshaw/LAX or Regional Connector? What’s your prediction for when?


Metro Cost Overruns on Downtown L.A. Railyard

In order to increase capacity for the three westside D Line subway extensions currently under construction, Metro is retooling its downtown L.A. Arts District railyard. The project is called the Division 20 Portal Widening and Turnback Facility. This lays the groundwork for a future Arts District 6th Street Station – but that would be a separate future project.

Metro map of Division 20 Turnback project
Metro map of Division 20 Turnback project

With an $802 million approved budget, this railyard re-work would be a big project all on its own. Construction got underway in 2019, then hit several snags.

There were issues with unforeseen site conditions. The century-old industrial site was contaminated. The utilities were not where they were expected. Interacting with the 1929 First Street Bridge at the site was challenging.

And there were project missteps – including a consultant design not compatible with heavy rail.

Division 20 Turnback audit detail
Division 20 project audit: “Consultant prepared vault designs that did not include requirements for Heavy Rail Vehicle (HRV) loading” – via Metro presentation

The Division 20 project, now about a third complete, burned through its contingency budget. Metro staff returned to the Construction Committee this week requesting that they approve a $75 million cost overrun [staff report]. Committee members expressed their displeasure at the increased cost, and did not approve the item, pushing it off to the full board meeting next week.

There is more Division 20 project information at SBLA Twitter: October 2021 explanation thread and yesterday’s Construction Committee item thread.

Ktown Anti-Camping Rocks Haven’t Budged

What looked like a quick eyes-on-the-street turned into the most viral Streetsblog story of the year. Some Koreatown neighbors recently placed large rocks in street/sidewalk right-of-way in order to keep unhoused Angelenos from camping in a spot along Westmoreland Avenue. After a short SBLA piece, TV news at CBS2ABC7, and Fox11 picked up the story, upgrading the rocks to “large boulders” causing a “crisis in Koreatown.”

The city of L.A. soon put up a notice that it would clear the rocks. At the noticed time and date last week, city trucks and crews showed up, but couldn’t access the site due to parked cars and soon left.

This morning, the rocks remained in place – while city crews swept unhoused Angelenos’ tents off of 4th Street, just a block away.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

City Nears Purchase of Key Parcel for L.A. River Revitalization

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A big property acquisition is underway that will set the stage for planned large-scale revitalization of the Los Angeles River. The City of Los Angeles is expecting to complete the purchase of a former railyard site that Mayor Eric Garcetti and others describe as the “crown jewel” of any large-scale restoration of the river. While there’s a long lineage […]