New alignments are being considered for the proposed West Santa Ana Branch light rail line (WSAB) in its approach to Downtown Los Angeles, according to an agenda item from this week's meeting of the Metro Board of Directors' Planning and Programming Committee.

In the project's 2015 Technical Refinement Study, Metro unveiled an array of potential alignments for the northern branch of the approximately 20-mile light rail line along Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, all of which would have terminated at Los Angeles Union Station.  Based on a staff report, Metro seems to have settled on a shared right-of-way with the existing Blue Line in WSAB's approach to Downtown, but its end destination may not wind up being Union Station.

The six new alternatives include:

  • Downtown Transit Core - Option 1: WSAB travels north along Alameda Street until turning west after 5th Street towards the Financial District.  This alignment could include a station at 4th and San Pedro Streets in the Industrial District, and a terminus near 5th and Flower Streets - not far from an unbuilt stop on the new Regional Connector subway, which was cut from that project due to cost constraints, but could still be added at some point in the future.
  • Downtown Transit Core - Option 2: After passing the Blue Line's Washington Station, the WSAB would cut a diagonal swath towards the intersection of 5th and Flower Streets in the Financial District.
  • Union Station via Arts District: After passing Washington Station, the WSAB would cut northeast toward the Arts District, connecting to the Red and Purple line's proposed 6th Street Station along the banks of the L.A. River.
  • Union Station via Alameda: The WSAB would travel north along Alameda Street towards Union Station, with stops at 7th Street and Little Tokyo and at terminus adjacent to Olvera Street.
  • Union Station via Alameda - Gold Line: the WSAB branch travels north on Alameda with stops at 7th Street and in Little Tokyo.  After Little Tokyo Station, trains would share right-of-way with the Gold Line to enter the Union Station rail yard.
  • Union Station via Alameda - Center: the WSAB travels north on Alameda with stops at 7th Street and in the Arts District, before detouring east to run along the L.A. River before arriving at Union Station.

The West Santa Ana Branch, which would connect to cities in Southeast Los Angeles County, carries an estimated budget between $3.5 billion and $4 billion.  It is partially funded by both Measures R and M, and is expected to carry 75,000 daily passengers by the year 2040.

Although the Measure M expenditure plan calls for the project to be built in two phases - an initial phase between Artesia and the Green Line opening in 2032, and a second phase between the Green Line and Downtown opening in 2041 - the light rail line could be completed years earlier than expected under a partnership between Metro and one or more private sector entities.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has included the West Santa Ana Branch in his ambitious 28 by 28 proposal, which calls for the 20-mile corridor to be completed in a single phase prior to the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The Metro Board of Directors could act on the newly proposed alignments sometime in late Spring 2018, following outreach to communities surrounding the WSAB corridor.