A recent peek at Metro's "wishlist" of projects the agency would like to fund with money from an extension of the Measure R sales tax and an additional half-cent sales tax increase (if voters approve them) noted that Metro has set its sights on extending the Gold Line's southern arm through East LA even farther east, to Whittier or South El Monte, depending on the alignment they choose. Unlike a lot of the other projects on this list, this one is already well on its way and Metro is about to start taking public comment on some new options for the route.
The plan to extend the Gold Line's southern arm farther east has been in the works for nearly a decade, says the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. In 2014, Metro looked into two possible routes for the next phase of the Eastside extension: new rail along the southern side of the 60 Freeway that would end in South El Monte, or an extension that would go south on Garfield Avenue and then take Washington Boulevard all the way to Whittier—Part of the study included looking at building both routes."
After a couple years of radio silence, there's been some recent movement on the project. (With the Gold Line recently opened to Azusa and the Expo extension to Santa Monica opening in May, maybe it's just spillover light rail madness?) Starting this month, there will be a series of public meetings on the project, and in response to "pushback" to part of the line to Whittier—a section of aerial light rail along Garfield Avenue—there are now two new alternatives on the table. One would have the north/south stretch run along Arizona Avenue, while the other would run the train along Atlantic Boulevard.
Both alternative routes would link up with Washington Boulevard and end at the same place, at Lambert Road in Whittier. According to Metro information for the public meetings, the grade of the two new alternatives hasn't been determined yet. Public meetings will also test the waters for a tweaked Garfield route, one that's underground instead of in the air or at grade. (Those options "have been eliminated," the website says.)
Though Metro studied the building of both lines, there seems to be a little competition between supporters of each route of the proposed extension. "Our line is way ahead of whatever they are doing [for the Whittier line]," a South El Monte councilman tells the Tribune. "Support has not dwindled. The Whittier line is further behind — they still have to go through station planning."
The South El Monte leg of the possible extension would have four stations and pass through parts of Montebello, Rosemead, and South El Monte. Metro estimates it would carry about 16,700 weekday riders and cost $1.3 billion to build. The Whittier section would cut through Montebello, Commerce, Pico Rivera, and Whittier, have six stations, and cost between $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion to build, though that estimate was based on the first iteration of the project, with the now rejected aerial section along Garfield.
Whichever alignment Metro eventually builds, the new light rail route wouldn't be finished until 2035, a Metro rep tells the Tribune.