The idea of bringing new Metro stops to the Arts District has been swirling around for several years now, and in January, Metro’s Board of Directors ordered a study assessing the possibility of extending the Red or Purple Line route into the neighborhood.
As The Source reports, that study is now complete, and its authors have recommended including an Arts District station in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan.
That’s good news for area residents and employees, but the study also points out significant challenges that would make it difficult for Metro to construct both stations.
Plans for the Arts District stations are closely tied to several other projects Metro is planning in the area. The agency owns a large maintenance and storage facility just east of the Arts District called Division 20 that is currently being prepared for the arrival of around 100 new train cars that will serve the Purple Line once construction wraps on its extension to Westwood.
Metro is also planning to install a new turnback facility on the Division 20 tracks that will allow Red and Purple Line trains to flow in and out of Union Station as often as every four minutes.
Current plans for the turnback facility would allow for a Third Street Station, but would make building a Sixth Street Station difficult. Neighborhood advocates, however, have argued that a station at Sixth Street would be an important part of the neighborhood’s ongoing development, particularly in light of the Sixth Street Viaduct replacement project that will bring a new public art plaza the the area.
The report finds that building both stations “would not be possible” without moving the proposed locations around. Its authors note that this could incur great costs and bring about safety hazards if passengers were required to cross over tracks (probably via an aerial walkway).
Constructing a Sixth Street stop instead of one at Third Street would be significantly more expensive and would take up more space. But, in an intriguing tradeoff, it could provide speedier service due to an improved turnback design.
Whether the transit agency ultimately decides to develop a station at Third Street, Sixth Street, or both, it will need to find a source of funding first. Arts District stops weren’t included on the list of projects funded by Measure M, so financing will have to come from elsewhere.