Amtrak Cascades service to all cities north of Seattle, Wash., including Vancouver, British Columbia, will resume in September. Also, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the extension of the L Line (Gold), known as the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 project.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on July 1 reported via Twitter that Amtrak Cascades service to all cities north of Seattle, including Vancouver, B.C., will restart in September. “Earlier plans called for a December return to Canada,” the DOTs said, “but Amtrak was able to advance the schedule.”
According to a CBC news report on July 2, service hasn’t “run across the B.C.-Washington border since the first major outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, even though land and air travel have been allowed between the two jurisdictions, with few restrictions.
“Amtrak had blamed staffing shortages for the long delay, saying it didn’t have enough conductors, mechanics and onboard service staff to operate the trains.”
WSDOT’s Janet Matkin told CBC that Amtrak “managed to be creative with staffing and equipment, allowing for the resumption of service.”
The Cascades schedule has been limited between Seattle and Portland, Ore., “for several months,” CBC reported, and bus service has been offered between Seattle and Vancouver. When trains run again to Canada, “Matkin said Amtrak plans to run one round trip every day. If demand increases, eventually, two round trips. …”
In related developments, international service returned for Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada customers for the first time since 2020 on June 27 as Amtrak, in conjunction with VIA, New York State and several federal agencies, among the them the U.S. DHS, resumed service to Toronto via the Maple Leaf.
LACMTA’s Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 project would extend the L Line nine miles from East Los Angeles to Whittier, serving the cities of Commerce, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, and Whittier, and the unincorporated communities of East Los Angeles and West Whittier-Los Nietos.
“East Los Angeles County faces an increasing number of mobility challenges due to high population, employment growth, and a constrained transportation network,” according to LACMTA (Metro). “The existing terminus of Metro L (Gold) Line is located approximately four miles east of downtown Los Angeles at Atlantic Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard in the unincorporated community of East Los Angeles. There is no rail connection for communities located to the east. By extending the existing Metro L (Gold) Line into eastern Los Angeles County, the project will enhance access and mobility to communities located further east and provide connectivity to other destinations along Metro’s regional transit system. Further, the project will reduce travel times and the need for transfers within the system. By serving concentrated areas of employment, activity centers and residential communities, the project will support transit-oriented community goals and address the needs of transit-dependent populations. The project will provide new and faster transit options which will help lead to equitable development and in-fill growth opportunities throughout eastern Los Angeles County.”
The Draft EIR evaluates three proposed alternatives (see map, top), which have the same guideway alignment but vary in length, and their potential impacts and mitigation measures. They are:
• Alternative 1: Washington, which would build the entire nine-mile line to Whittier, with seven stations (one relocated/reconfigured and six new) and offers two maintenance and storage facility (MSF) site options.
• Alternative 2: Commerce/Citadel Station Initial Operating Segment, which is approximately 3.2 miles in length with three stations and one MSF site option.
• Alternative 3: Greenwood Station (city of Montebello) Initial Operating Segment, which is is approximately 4.6 miles in length with four stations and two MSF site options.
The Draft EIR (download summary below) will be available for public review and comment through Aug. 29, 2022. Following the 60-day comment period, the LACMTA Board will select an alternative, as required by state environmental law. All comments will be addressed in the Final EIR, which is slated for release in 2023. Opening is forecast for 2035.