Metro kicked off the first of four Union Station Master Plan community meetings last night at their headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. (In April of 2011 the county’s primary transit operator purchased the station and some of the surrounding properties from the real estate company Catellus Operating Limited Partnership for $75 million dollars.) Community members listened as Metro officials and representatives from Gruen Associates and Grimshaw Architects (the consultants hired to develop a master plan for the station) proposed their objectives for the area, including accommodating current and future transit needs, protecting and enhancing the station, and improving multi-modal access and connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods.
As Metro looks to expand the station’s transit system (including a possible high speed rail stop) and increase ridership from 60,000 daily users today to over 100,000 daily patrons in 2020, a master plan that produces a cohesive multi-modal transit hub is vital. Metro plans to incorporate multiple elements into their master plan, including bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and neighborhood preservation with better connectivity to the station. Through feedback from smaller stakeholder meetings, officials acknowledged that the station feels isolated from the rest of downtown, wayfinding outside and inside of the station is ineffective, and there is poor bicycle and pedestrian connectivity to surrounding communities. The transit organization emphasized that with flexible entitlements (which permit construction on 6 million square feet of the property) already in place development opportunities are abundant, which they hope will mend some of these issues and make the station a final destination for more visitors in the future.
If the project goals are achieved and the area surrounding the station does become a node that offers vast amenities how will bicyclists be included and provided for? Currently bicyclists and pedestrians make-up 5% of the station’s transit users but Metro realizes the potential to increase this share is great. Officials are in the process of reviewing the City’s 2010 Bicycle Plan to determine what bicycle linkages are currently planned and how they can be improved around the entire property. Ideas such as changing the character of Alameda Street and/or including a bike center were proposed during the presentation. Nevertheless, Metro officials know they have their work cut out for them and are asking for bicyclists’ help in developing future necessary bicycle infrastructure at the station. A number of improvements are desirable, including bike rails on the stairways leading from the platforms to the tunnel, as well as better bicycle access from the main and eastside entrances of the building, to name a few. So here is our chance, the more comments Metro receives about improving bicycle facilities in and around the station the better.
The preferred plan will be presented to the Metro Board in April of 2014 and Metro will hold 3 community meetings before this presentation. The next two meetings will take place in 2013 and will focus on possible alternatives, with the final meeting to be held in the early part of 2014 (we’ll be sure to post an announcement before each meeting). However, you don’t have to wait for the meetings to let Metro know what bicycle improvements could be made. Email your comments and suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org and the master plan project team will compile and incorporate these into the planning process.
To read more about Metro’s Union Station Master Plan checkout Metro’s webpage dedicated to the project.