Herald American Northeast Edition The Press

MTA hears views on planned Southeast rail line

SOUTH GATE — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority hosted the last of four public scoping meetings June 24 to initiate environmental studies for a new 20-mile light rail line that would connect downtown Los Angeles to southeast L.A.

The new line would stretch from downtown Los Angeles to Cerritos, passing through the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Vernon, Huntington Park, Bell, Cudahy, South Gate, Downey, Paramount, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia. It also would intersect with the MTA’s existing gold and green lines.

The West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor project is one of several projects aimed at modernizing the regional public transportation system.

Project Manager Fanny Pan said the MTA is working to incorporate all of its projects. The transit agency is currently working on more than 10 construction projects, which include a project to build pedestrian and bicycle paths that would link to existing paths, existing MTA stations and future stations.

Pan said the MTA plans to publish a draft for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor project in late 2018. The MTA is currently considering four potential routes. It intends to initiate construction in 2022 in accordance with Measure M, the sales tax measure to fund transit projects approved by voters last November.

The measure will fund the expansion of public transportation systems, repair transportation infrastructure and keep fares affordable for students, seniors and disabled people.

The MTA estimates that Measure M will generate $860 million and create more the 400,000 new jobs over the 40 years it will take to complete all the current projects.

The MTA is considering multiple routes for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor, the majority of which use land with existing rail lines. Most of the land is already owned by the MTA. However, it must negotiate with the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to purchase rail that the ports own and operate.

Some of the proposed routes would also require the MTA to purchase homes in residential areas. Though the project has widespread support, some residents from areas where construction could take place have expressed concerns during the public scoping meetings.

MTA representatives didn’t address every concern expressed during the June 24 meeting’s public comment portion. However, Community Relations Manager Julia Brown said the scoping process is an important part of MTA projects. She added that the comments from the public are being recorded and will be considered when a draft of the project is developed.

Artesia resident Sunny Kato asked the MTA to properly compensate those who might have their homes bought out for the project. She said one of the potential stations would require the demolition of some of her neighbors’ homes and would be constructed in front of hers.

She expressed concern over her property potentially losing value because of the construction.

Some attendees of a recent public scoping meeting in Huntington Park June 24 asked the MTA to extend its scoping period and host more meetings. The MTA’s current deadline for public comment is Aug. 4. Comments can be submitted by mail to One Gateway Plaza, M/S 99-22-4 Los Angeles, CA 90012 or via email at metro.net/wsab.

Comments can also be posted on the project website, wsab@metro.net.