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First Look at Plan to Take the Gold Line to El Monte or Whittier

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Today Metro released its huge draft environmental impact report on a plan to extend the Gold Line from East LA out to either Whittier or El Monte (via The Source). The meaty document on the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 doesn't include a decision on whether to extend the Gold Line's southeastern terminus—at Atlantic and Pomona Boulevards in East LA—to Southeast LA (Whittier) or the San Gabriel Valley (South El Monte), but it does lay the groundwork for the Metro board to make a formal recommendation on the matter in November.

The Whittier option seems promising, since it would offer higher ridership and more stations (plus Metro boardmember/Mayor Garcetti likes it). The El Monte option travels along a freeway for its entire length, which limits opportunities for transit-oriented development and offers a not-super-enjoyable commuting experience.

Here's more on each option:
The "SR 60" alternative, a 6.9-mile extension along the 60 freeway, would include four new stations in Monterey Park, Montebello, and South El Monte. It would attract 16,700 boardings a day and cost a touch under $1.3 billion, mostly thanks to its elevated stations. The SR-60 extension would take 13 minutes to travel end-to-end. Metro staff can work around toxic Superfund sites (yikes) that lie along the route, according to the DEIR.

The "Washington Boulevard" alternative would extend light rail service 9.5 miles and add six stations in Monterey Park, Montebello, Pico Rivera, and Whittier. It would bring in 19,900 new riders and cost between $1.43 and $1.66 billion, certainly more bang for the buck when you look at the length of both options. The line would run partially along the 60, but then turn south, running on an aerial structure above Garfield Avenue and then turning east on Washington Boulevard. The stations would be a mix of aerial and at-grade. It would take 17.5 minutes to travel this route. The DEIR says the elevated stations "would substantially change the visual character of Garfield Avenue between Via Campo and Whittier Boulevard."

The DEIR is now in a 60-day comment period, with four community meetings planned in the fall before any recommendation is made to the board. With current funding, the project wouldn't start construction for another 13 years, but Metro hopes to get federal loans that could substantially speed that up—hence the release of the DEIR now.
· Draft Environmental Document Released for Eastside Gold Line Phase 2 Project [The Source]
· Gold Line Eastside Extension II Archives [Curbed LA]