When Metro's Green Line opened in 1994, it sent trains from Redondo Beach all the way out to the 605 Freeway in Norwalk, linking the city of Los Angeles to the eastern reaches of the county. It stopped short, however, of reaching the Metrolink system just a few miles down the road, which means it missed the chance to link LA's Metro rail system to trains going to Orange County and beyond. Attempts were made in the 1990s to link the Metro and Metrolink stations in Norwalk, but fell short due to neighborhood opposition and lack of funding. Now, according to the LA Times, officials are again trying to get the ball rolling on closing the 2.8 mile gap that separates the Norwalk station at the end of Metro's Green Line from the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink station.
Today, Metrolink riders looking to transfer to Metro trains into LA have to get off at the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs station and take a 15 to 25-minute bus ride to the Metro Green Line. The whole process, including waiting for the bus, can add up to an hour to commute times. The only other alternative is to continue riding Metrolink several miles farther into Downtown LA's Union Station. Closing the gap, effectively linking the Metrolink to the Metro system in Norwalk, would dramatically decrease travel times for people coming from Orange County to the South Bay and LAX. Orange County transportation activist Jane Reifer tells the Times the link would "would open up the entire system" and get more people traveling into LA and back.
The proposal to link the train lines is not a new one. When the Green Line opened in 1994, there was talk of connecting Metro and Metrolink, but opposition from the neighborhood and funding issues stopped that project. Now, some 20 years later, there is a renewed interest in a bolstering rail infrastructure in LA County—LAX will soon be linked to the Metro system by way of a people mover stemming from the forthcoming Crenshaw Line. The Norwalk link opens up the possibility of carless commutes to the airport from the OC, and there's even the possibility for California's high-speed rail project to connect to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs station.
The cost of the extension has not yet been announced, but it is likely to cost more than the estimates from the the early 1990s. At that time, two options were floated: an elevated train link for $215 million and an underground subway link for $241 million. Some of the cost could be covered by the project's inclusion in a ballot measure that would renew Measure R, the half-cent sales tax that raises money for transportation projects throughout LA County.
Still, the rail link project is still in its very early stages, and some officials are not considering it a sure thing. Norwalk City Manager Mike Egan says "the community still has concerns" and they are "proceeding cautiously." Renee Berlin, in charge of Metro's countywide planning calls plans for Measure R funding "only hypothetical."
· Closing 2.8-mile transit gap in Norwalk could smooth regional commute [LA Times]
· New Look at the LAX People Mover Set to Be Finished in 2023 [Curbed LA]