Ryan McDonald

Metro eyes analysis of Green Line extension in South Bay

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A rendering of two possible routes for the Green Line extension. Image courtesy Metro

by Ryan McDonald

Southern California transit officials will consider a contract worth more than $30,000,000 to plan for an extension of the Green Line, a major expansion of rail transit into the South Bay.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority at its Thursday meeting will vote on whether to award a contract to STV Incorporated, a consulting firm that has previously worked with the New York subway and rail systems, to provide both environmental analysis and conceptual engineering services for the extension. The plan got a tentative recommendation earlier this month from Metro’s Planning subcommittee.

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, a Metro board member whose District Four includes the South Bay, said that okaying the combined planning effort will ultimately enable the Green Line extension to be completed sooner, and for less money.

“We have gotten the support of the Metro Board to accelerate this project and get the Green Line Extension to Torrance completed ahead of schedule. To get this done we asked Metro to come up with creative solutions that can save time and money,” Hahn said in a statement. “That is why I’m glad to see that for the first time, Metro will be conducting the advanced engineering at the same time as the environmental review, which will mean the Green Line extension can break ground as quickly as possible after the EIR is complete.”   

If approved, the analysis will focus on two possible southerly routes for the Green Line, which currently concludes at a station in Redondo Beach on Marine Avenue. Both will travel along a railroad right-of-way south of 190th Street and end at a Torrance Transit Station near Crenshaw Boulevard, but they differ in how they would get there. One would travel along Hawthorne Boulevard, while the other would travel near existing tracks just east of Inglewood. Both would have a stop near the South Bay Galleria.

The two alternatives were narrowed down from four in 2018, and both face obstacles. The city of Lawndale has pointed to its extensive work on Hawthorne, upgrades that would potentially be undone by running a non-elevated rail line along the street. And Redondo residents had raised concerns about impacts, including frequent noise from nearby trains, associated with running the Green Line along the tracks near Inglewood. Christian Horvath, a Redondo councilmember and chair of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments’ Transportation subcommittee, said some of these concerns remain, and he hopes Metro’s study takes them into account. 

“What I really want to see studied on behalf of residents, in general, are things we already requested. Personally I want to see the Green Line come down to [the Torrance Transit Center] and give more transit access to residents. With that said, I want to make sure that we are addressing concerns, that we are studying this so that we really have all the facts,” Horvath said.

The Green Line expansion comes as Metro is planning a massive expansion of transit across the region with an infusion of funds from county residents approval of the Measure M, a 2016 sales tax boost. Although ridership is currently in the midst of a multi-year decline, Metro is laying out plans that Executive Director Phil Washington said have the potential to fundamentally change how people get around in car-centric Southern California. 

Transit use in the South Bay is low relative to the region as a whole, with many complaining that it is slow, inconvenient, or does not take them where they want to go. In a statement that will likely resonate with Beach Cities residents, Metro staff wrote that its “major arterial roadways are congested throughout much of the day,” and concluded that improved bus and rail offerings like the Green Line extension could not only improve service for riders, but improve traffic by getting some people who would otherwise drive out of cars.

Past Metro documents showing a list of possible of Measure M projects have shown that the Green Line extension could be completed by late in the decade.

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