(Hello readers from the Transit Coalition. You can read other Street Heat transit coverage from the past week here, here, and here.)
A large and enthusiastic audience attended today's Metro meeting on the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study at the public library. A standing-room-only room couldn't fit all interested parties, and Metro Staff actually had to move themselves into the hallway to make room for everyone.
While it will be between seven and ten years before any new rail or bus lines are operational as a result of this project, over twenty-five speakers took time to give their vision of what a downtown transit corridor should look like. Because Metro stressed that everything possible was still being considered, light and heavy rail, Bus Rapid Transit, regular bus, and even monorail were all promoted (or opposed) by the speakers.
The speakers list was as diverse as the testimonies provided. Representatives from the Transit Coalition, Citizens for Better Mobility, Keep LA Moving, the Downtown Business Improvement District, Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Realtors Board and others all spoke about their specific wants and concerns. Business groups seemed most concerned with providing access to the shops and restaurants. Transit advocates were more concerned with the safety and long-term sustainability of the project. Many also noted that with a route that begins at the 7th Street Metro Center, this study provides a chance for their to be a one-seat ride from Santa Monica all the way to Union Station.
If the people in the room had to choose a route and mode today, we would probably see some sort of light rail coming from the Metro Center (where Expo will run to from the south) and continuing up Flower Street to the Bunker Hill or Civic Center areas where it would then turn east and head towards Union Station. However, we're a long way away from even seeing a proposed route.
Scoping hearings are usually the first part of public outreach on a project. At this point, the public tells Metro what modes, alignments, and alternatives it should study while trying to meet the projects goals. In this case, the goal is to connect all of the transit that runs to downtown LA and to reduce congestion within the study area. At this point, nothing is decided, not the route, not the mode, not the station stops...nothing. The study area is two square miles in the downtown with the 110 as its western boundary, the 101 as its northern boundary, 9th and 7th Streets as its southern boundary and Alameda Street as its eastern boundary.
Miss the meeting? Don't worry...there's another one Wednesday night from 6:00-8:00pm at the Japanese America National Museum. For more information about the study, or to submit your own comments (due by 11/21) visit the project website.
By January, Metro should have a list of possible modes and routes to study and will then hold a series of "Screening Meetings." It expects to announce a "locally preferred alternative" by April of 2008...then it will begin the environmental review.