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Metro Board Approves First Segment of WSAB Light Rail From Artesia to Union Station

The WSAB 15-mile light rail line approved by the Metro Board from Pioneer in Artesia to Union Station.

January 27, 2022

By Brian Hews

The Los Angeles County Metro Board of Directors voted unanimously today to move forward with the first 15-mile segment of the West Santa Ana Branch, a rail line that, when completed, will stretch from Artesia to Downtown Los Angeles.  

There will be a press conference tomorrow at the Transit Plaza to announce the approval of the Locally Preferred Alternative, what is known as the Slauson/A Line route from Union to Pioneer in Artesia.

No station will be built in Cerritos for now.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, with the support of local leaders from Southeast Los Angeles and the Gateway Cities, will continue to lead her colleagues to adopt as official Metro Board policy that the West Santa Ana Branch project will only be considered complete once the entire 19-mile line is built and it provides a single-seat-ride from Artesia to Union Station.

“The West Santa Ana Branch is more than just a transit project,” said Hahn. “It will make such a difference in the lives of people living and working along its corridor, alleviating many of the environmental impacts that have burdened Southeast LA and Gateway Cities communities for too long and providing them with much-needed access to quality public transit. Approving this first segment is big, but it is not enough. Our communities deserve the project that was promised to them and that is a one-seat-ride from Artesia to Downtown Los Angeles and what we made clear today is that we are all going to keep fighting for that.”

Artesia Councilman Ali Taj, Chairman of the Eco-Transit Eco-Rapid Transit Board, a JPA created to pursue the development of a transit system that moves as rapidly as possible and is environmentally friendly and energy-efficient, told HMG-CN, “The Metro Board actions today set the stage for us to work together to secure the rest of the funding and planning needed for this rail project. We are ready and anxious to support this major step in that direction. This project is the poster child for President Biden’s Justice40 program, which promises to bring resources to disadvantaged communities like ours. Eco-Rapid Transit thanks Supervisor Hahn for leading the efforts to build a one-seat ride between Artesia and Union Station, as quickly as possible. We appreciate that the motion includes a directive to accelerate the project timeline so we can all ride together. Thank you also to Supervisor Solis, Director Dutra, Mayor Garcetti and Supervisor Mitchell for all your efforts and your sponsorship of the motion and our transit line, an integral part of the 28 by 28 plan and one of Metro’s four-pillar projects.”

Michael Kodama, Executive Director of Eco-Rapid told HMG-CN, “Today was an important day for eco rapid and our communities. The motion declares the west Santa Ana branch project is a one-seat ride from Artesia to Union Station.  We need to continue to plan, design and now go after the necessary state and federal funds to accelerate this project and make it happen.”

 In addition to committing Metro to build the entire 19-mile project, Hahn’s motion, which was co-authored by fellow Board members LA County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Whittier City Councilmember Fernando Dutra, and was unanimously approved by the Metro Board of Directors, also directed Metro staff to find ways to accelerate the construction of and funding for the Branch, including through public-private partnership and value-capture financing.

They were also directed to examine the Branch segment from Slauson Ave to Slauson to Union Station and assess if any aerial sections could be constructed more cheaply underground.

The Board also wanted to ensure a seamless connection between Slauson Station and Union Station for when the first segment is completed and before the full project is done.

“Metro has secured almost $7 billion of federal New Starts funds over the last 40 years – and it’s now time for Southeast LA to have our turn,” said Whitter Councilmember and Metro Board Member Fernando Dutra. “This is Metro’s top federal priority, and I am pleased to partner with my colleagues to accelerate the project’s schedule and secure funding from our partners.” 

“A lot of our residents depend on the bus, and this project is needed to provide them with another way to get to work and to see their families,” said South Gate Councilmember and Eco-Rapid Transit Boardmember Maria Davila.

“This light rail will provide LA County residents with expanded access to health care, education and cultural destinations,” said Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco. “We have been planning this project for 30 years and we need to get this project completed from Artesia to downtown LA’

 “Today is about equity for cities that have been waiting decades for transportation opportunities,” said Huntington Park City Councilmember Karina Macias. 

“Southeast Los Angeles communities are among those that utilize Metro’s bus and rail system most, and yet, projects that would support our livelihoods, like the West Santa Ana Branch, have been put on hold or cut into segments,” said Cudahy Mayor Liz Alcantar. “SELA cannot wait. I thank Supervisor Janie Hahn and the rest of the Metro Board for supporting a one-seat ride for the entire line and for their commitment to the growth, well-being, and progress of communities like ours.”

“The City of Maywood looks forward to strengthening the relationship with Metro and working together to make sure the West Santa Ana Branch is soon a one-seat ride and time-efficient method of transportation for the residents of Southeast Los Angeles,” said Heber Marquez, Mayor of Maywood. “Thank you to Supervisor Hahn for her leadership.” 

“The City of Bellflower is fully supportive of the West Santa Ana Branch Transit corridor project from Los Angeles Union Station to Artesia Pioneer Station,” said Bellflower Mayor Ray Dunton. “This particular transportation will greatly assist our residents and business owners with direct public access to Downtown Los Angeles.”

ECO-Rapid Chair Taj finished, “We have been working on this project for over 20 years and are happy to see this now becoming a reality. Metro has demonstrated that it can be resourceful and determined to meet the community’s needs and demands. We hope to strengthen our partnership and build an active, sustainable transit line together that fosters community, economic vitality and helps the underserved residents in our communities to get to job and entertainment activities available to others in Los Angeles County. This project fills a gap in the system and is critical for creating future economic and community opportunities throughout the corridor. This is an exciting day – this is the beginning, and we look forward to working with everyone to make this project a reality – so we can all ride on the line together from Artesia to Union Station and many other destinations in the corridor and on the Metro Rail system.”