Since acquiring the Union Station in 2011, Metro has sought to overhaul the historic passenger rail terminal's appeal as both a transit hub and a real estate asset. The planned makeover - called Link Union Station - calls for building new run-through at the southern end of the station, allowing trains to cross above the US-101 Freeway, while also expanding an existing passenger tunnel and adding new amenities. That vision, as with so many other ambitious infrastructure projects across the country, has faced the challenge of a growing budget that exceeds available funding: in June 2023, the price tag of Link Union Station had ballooned to an estimated $1.93 billion, more than double the $950 million Metro had secured for construction.

Modified plan for Link Union Station Phases A and BMetro

In the months that have passed, Metro has appears to have adjusted its plans in an effort to move the project forward, per a new presentation unearthed by @numble. After value engineering, plans how call for a reduction in the number of new-build platforms which would have access to the run-through tracks from seven to four. Those platforms would serve eight different tracks which would converge onto just two tracks crossing the freeway - also a reduction from the original plan which had called for at least four.

Even with value engineering, the project would still be split into phases. The initial wave of construction would focus on Union Station's Platform 3, which would be shortened and modified for the approach to the tracks across the freeway. Plans also call for active transportation improvements such as new sidewalks and bike lanes along Commercial Street on the south side of the freeway, as well as work within a BNSF yard, "quiet zone" improvements at the North Main Street grade crossing, and the addition of a sound wall adjacent to the William Mead Home public housing complex.

Some work on the project is already beginning - specifically, utility relocations along Center and Commercial Streets. That work is ongoing and will continue through Summer 2025, according to the report. Metro currently expects environmental clearances for Link Union Station to be processed in Fall 2024, with final design beginning afterward and continuing through Summer 2026. Early construction could commence for the project by Fall 2025, with heavy construction set to begin by Summer 2026. A completion date for the project is not specified.

Before-and-after view of the US-101 Freeway with and without Link Union Station run-through tracksMetro

While Metro looks to find a path forward with its Union Station overhaul, other large rail projects in Southern California have recently been the recipient of better news. Brightline West and the California High-Speed Rail Authority were recently awarded a combined $6.1 billion toward passenger rail corridors which could one day connect the L.A. area with Las Vegas and the Bay Area. Both of those services are planned to reach Union Station at undetermined dates in the future.

Likewise, Union Station remains the centerpiece of Metrolink's SCORE improvements, which have the goal of enabling more frequent service across the more than 500-mile regional rail system.

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