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Metro board members want a new study of possible Arts District rail stations

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A long-sought Sixth Street stop could prove tricky

Trains sit on tracks with Downtown in background
Metro trains in maintenance yard bordering the Arts District
Steve Boland | creative commons

Several members of Metro’s Board of Directors are calling for a new study of possibilities for long-sought rail stations servicing the heart of the Arts District.

At an upcoming meeting, the board will consider a motion submitted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmember Mike Bonin, and County Supervisor Hilda Solis. As The Source reports, the motion calls for further examination of whether it would be feasible to extend the Red and Purple Lines past Union Station to include stops as far south as Sixth Street.

Metro has considered extending the lines into the Arts District since 2010. Given the neighborhood’s rapid growth, adding stops to the area (currently served only by the Gold Line stop at First and Alameda) makes sense and would be relatively easy to do.

That’s because track extending from Union Station into the Arts District already exists. Metro owns a large maintenance yard along the LA River that could be retooled to include one or more new stations.

The problem is that space is limited at the maintenance yard, and the transit agency is already planning to use part of the facility as a train turn-back area, allowing for much more frequent Red and Purple Line service. As the authors of the motion note, that project is fairly non-negotiable, as numerous federal grants funding the Purple Line’s extension are tied to its completion.

An environmental review of the turn-back facility released last month made clear that, while the project would allow for new stations at First and Third Streets, a Sixth Street stop would present a greater challenge.

Almost immediately, Arts District residents and stakeholders cried foul, arguing that a Sixth Street station was badly needed to serve the area’s burgeoning southern region—and provide a connection to the under-construction Sixth Street Viaduct replacement and corresponding public art plaza. A group called Save 6th Street Station quickly popped up to demand Metro stick to earlier plans that would have allowed for the Sixth Street stop.

This latest motion is perhaps a response to those community pressures. As The Source notes, Metro is also planning to build a light rail line traveling between Union Station and Artesia that could include an Arts District station. Funded by sales tax revenue from Measure R and Measure M, the project is currently expected to be built by 2028.

That’s probably a little far out for Arts District residents eager for easier access to LA’s growing transit network. In the meantime, Metro’s System Safety, Security and Operations Committee will consider the new motion at its January 19 meeting.