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Downtowners not giving up on Arts District Metro station

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They’re asking Metro to continue pursuing a rail stop

Arts District aerial
An aerial view of the Arts District and the adjacent Division 20 rail yard.
Trekandshoot | Shutterstock

Residents and business owners aren’t giving up on adding a second rail stop in the Arts District, one closer to the heart of the neighborhood.

The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council sent a letter to Metro CEO Phil Washington last week asking the agency to take a closer look at the issue.

“We need Metro to make it a priority to connect tens of thousands of new workers and new residents through public transit,” the letter reads.

The Arts District is fairly easy to access by bus—or on foot from the Little Tokyo Gold Line station—but the neighborhood is changing rapidly, and a new rail stop would do much to bolster development closer to its southern boundaries.

In November, Washington said it would take “manna [falling] from heaven” to get the station built.

But Miguel Vargas, director of the Arts District Business Improvement District tells Curbed the project is too necessary for Metro to ignore.

“This region is tremendously growing,” he says. “To have all this development, but not build out infrastructure is shortsighted.”

Community members, however, haven’t found a source of funding for the project.

Last year, members of Metro’s board of directors requested a study on how to include a new Arts District stop in the agency’s plans for a rail yard just east of the neighborhood.

Called Division 20, the rail yard is set to be expanded and renovated so that Red and Purple Line trains can use it as a turnaround point. This would significantly speed up arrival times for both lines, allowing trains to flow in and out of Union Station every four minutes during peak hours.

But the budget for that project doesn’t include a new Arts District station, and the train stop wasn’t included in the project list that LA voters approved when they signed off on Metro’s Measure M ballot measure—set to fund most of the agency’s major projects going forward.

Metro’s study on whether a station could be easily added also found a host of challenges that could prevent that from happening.

The study examined two possible station locations, at Third Street and Sixth Street (where a park is planned alongside the under-construction bridge replacing the old Sixth Street Viaduct). It found that a Third Street stop would be easier to build but would cause the trains to run less efficiently as a stop at Sixth Street.

Metro eliminated the Third Street last year, meaning that, if the Arts District gets a new station, it will be at Sixth Street.

Building the stop won’t be easy though; according to the agency’s study, it would require installation of new elevators, escalators, platforms, and other infrastructure. Metro spokesperson Rick Jager tells Curbed that the agency has no estimate for how much that would cost.

And, while Metro plans to make sure that renovations to the Division 20 rail yard don’t “preclude” a future Sixth Street station, a potential design for the stop hasn’t even been fleshed out, according to Jager.

In terms of the money to build it, Pauletta Tonilas, Metro’s chief communications officer, says that the agency is “open to ideas of funding options, whether that be private, grant or other public funds, but currently we do not have a proposal.”

Community stakeholders are holding onto hope.

“People are still pretty optimistic that we’re going to get a station,” Vargas says.