LA Metro Finalizes Improvement Initiatives

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
ITC Rendering Courtesy of the City of Inglewood

ITC Rendering Courtesy of the City of Inglewood

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority (Metro) announced that it has approved a Master Cooperative Agreement (MCA) for the Inglewood Transit Connector (ITC) project and will partner with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink) to improve Antelope Valley Line (AVL) service.

The LA Metro Board of Directors on Jan. 26 approved an MCA with the City of Inglewood for the city’s ITC project, a 1.6-mile people mover connecting the Metro K Line to the region’s newest sports and entertainment venues, including the Kia Forum, SoFi Stadium and Intuit Dome, as well as South Los Angeles’ emerging housing and commercial centers.

According to Metro, the people mover, which will “improve transit access and mobility for residents and visitors to Inglewood and connect popular venues to the Metro Rail system,” will have three stations and travel along an elevated guideway. The project will allow trains to travel in both directions so that several trains can run at once, moving up to 11,000 passenger an hour. The route will use Market Street, Manchester Boulevard and Prairie Avenue.

Courtesy of the City of Inglewood

“The ITC project will make it easy to reach popular destinations via transit—which is especially important as more world-class events are held in Inglewood—including the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympic games,” said City of Glendale Council Member and Metro Chair Board Ara J. Najarian. “The project will help reduce gridlock experienced during major events and provide a great alternative to the hassles of driving and parking. This is a win-win situation for all of us.”

Metro and the City of Inglewood have established—via a Joint Powers Authority—a collaborative and cooperative single-purpose entity dedicated to overseeing the design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the project. Riders will be able to transfer between the lines, using a pedestrian bridge between the K Line’s Downtown Inglewood Station and the ITC’s Market Street/Florence Avenue Station.

At present, Metro runs a bus shuttle between the C Line’s Hawthorne/Lennox Station and SoFi Stadium for NFL games and a few other events. A bus shuttle is also planned to run between SoFi and the K Line. The people mover project, Metro says, will make it possible to move more people faster and reach more destinations. The project is expected to break ground in 2024, with completion expected in 2028.

According to Metro, the three proposed stations include:

  • The Market Street/Florence Avenue Station will be located between Market Street and Locust Street providing connections to the Metro K Line and Downtown Inglewood.
  • The Prairie Avenue/Manchester Boulevard Station will be on the southwest corner of the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Manchester Boulevard and will provide service to the Forum, the LASED at Hollywood Park, SoFi Stadium and existing and future local businesses and residences.
  • The Prairie Avenue/Hardy Street Station will be on the northwest corner of the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Hardy Street and will provide service to the LASED at Hollywood Park, SoFi Stadium, and other existing and future local businesses and residences.

“The ITC will provide a valuable first/last mile connection to the K Line and give Metro customers a fast and easy way to get from our expansive rail network to some of our region’s premier sports and live entertainment destinations,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins.

“We must solve ‘the first/last mile challenge’ by making sure our transit system succeeds at getting people exactly where they need and want to go,” said Inglewood City Councilmember Eloy Morales. “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Metro to not end transit service in Downtown Inglewood, but rather create a robust and seamless connection for residents, employees and visitors to Inglewood’s premier destinations and housing centers. The ITC is key to fulfilling that vision.”

More information on the ITC project is available here.

Additionally, Metro Board of Directors announced Jan. 26 that it has approved a funding agreement in the amount of $16,563,591 for final design services for the Metrolink AVL Capital and Services Improvements Project to “improve train service frequency and reliability along the 76.5-mile rail corridor while reducing automobile trips and freeway congestion on SR-14, simultaneously lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

Metro and Metrolink seek to enable regular interval scheduling of 30 minutes of bi-directional passenger rail service from L.A. Union Station to the City of Santa Clarita and hourly service to the end of the corridor in the City of Lancaster. Today, these passenger rail service patterns range from 30 minutes during peak service to up to two hours during off-peak service hours.

The 76.5-mile AVL extends from Los Angeles Union Station and terminates in Lancaster with stations in Los Angeles, Glendale, Burbank, Sun Valley, Sylmar, San Fernando, Newhall, Santa Clarita, Acton, Palmdale, Lancaster, and unincorporated Los Angeles County. Metro is one of five county transportation agencies in Southern California that fund Metrolink.

“My goal as Chair of Metro is to greatly improve the frequency of train service between Downtown L.A., Santa Clarita, and beyond in efforts to expand our regional connectivity,” said City of Glendale Councilmember and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “This funding agreement gets us even closer to that goal and is a great example of Metro and Metrolink working hand-in-hand to make it their potential goal to increase the number of weekday trains from 15 to 30, achieve a clockface schedule and increase ridership by 150% by 2030.”

“Metrolink’s connection with Metro is a vital piece of the mobility landscape here in Southern California,” said Metrolink Board Chair Larry McCallon. “By making those connections as frequent and as robust as possible with projects like this, people needing to travel throughout the region will have more reasons to choose the train over their own cars.”

With the funding in hand, Metrolink says it will now complete the design procurement and award final design contracts for the project as part of Metrolink’s Phase 1 of the $10 billion Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion (SCORE) program, including bid documents to support construction and pre-construction right-of-way acquisition for the following capital projects:

  • Balboa Double Track—will extend the existing Sylmar siding, a section of track approximately 6,300 feet north from Balboa Boulevard to Sierra Highway, which upon completion, will allow for optimized train operations before entering the largest tunnel segment along the AVL.

  • Canyon to Santa Clarita Double Track—will extend the Saugus siding by adding approximately 8,400 feet of new track between Soledad Canyon Road and Golden Oak. The design includes an optional platform-to-platform pedestrian undercrossing configuration, improving operational flexibility and line reliability while providing the first Quiet Zone in the City of Santa Clarita.

  • Lancaster Terminal Improvements—will include expansion of the existing maintenance yard with two new 500-foot-long and one 1,000-foot-long train storage tracks and provisions for fueling with a center platform with pedestrian undercrossing configuration options, which will add the needed storage capacity for this corridor while supporting the first Quiet Zone in the City of Lancaster.

The SCORE capital investment program includes grade crossing, station and signal improvements, as well as track additions and work that “accelerates progress towards Metrolink’s zero-emissions future and prepares the Metrolink system for that level of increased service,” the agency said.

The Metrolink AVL Capital and Service Improvements Project, Metro says, will serve the ethnically diverse North Los Angeles County. Nine of the 11 cities and communities along this project’s alignment are Equity Focus Communities, which means they are communities most heavily impacted by gaps in inequity throughout the County. The AVL, according to the agency, has the lowest percentage of riders with an annual household income of more than $50,000 at 65% compared to the systemwide average of 80%. The increase in ridership, Metro adds, will reduce congestion and air pollution in adjacent disadvantaged communities along the high volume of I-5 and SR-14 highways.

“The AVL is a critical piece of our region’s transportation network, serving some of the fastest growing areas of our county,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “By advancing this funding agreement, Metro can build on the longstanding partnership with Metrolink that ensures people from the North County have easy access to Metro’s bus and rail network.”

“Providing public transportation options for the millions of people expected to attend this international athletic showcase will be a team effort, and we appreciate Metro’s investment,” Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle added. “Metrolink will play a key role in transporting riders between venues outside of Los Angeles while connecting to the rest of the Metro Rail and bus systems at L.A. Union Station.”

More information on the AVL Capacity and Service Improvements Program is available here.

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