Los Angeles Union Station Plan Creates Multimodal Access to Downtown L.A.

When it comes to trains, trams, and buses, L.A.'s Union Station is "the most transit-accessible location in Southern California." Soon, it will finally connect to its own neighborhood.

2 minute read

September 29, 2017, 2:00 PM PDT

By Elana Eden


Los Angeles

Kit Leong / Shutterstock

Los Angeles Metro recently released a draft environmental impact report for streetscape improvements at Union Station, with the aim of connecting the historic transit hub to the surrounding Downtown. The plan calls for turning a parking lot into a new civic plaza, widening sidewalks to create a new esplanade, and clearing a pedestrian crossing to the popular El Pueblo de Los Ángeles park.

Accommodating those changes will require some lane reductions, which recently proved hotly controversial on L.A.'s Westside. But transportation planner Elizabeth Carvajal explains to The Planning Report that public comments repeatedly described Union Station as a "moat" for pedestrians and bicyclists, who requested the multimodal improvements.

Carvajal is joined in TPR by Jenna Hornstock, deputy executive officer in countywide planning & development, who contextualizes the project's impact on the Civic Center neighborhood. "A strong active transportation network is the bones of the future for this area," she says. "Creating this connectivity not only helps people get around—it also sets the tone and stage for a world-class community that includes jobs and housing centered around transit."

The perimeter plan is one of a series of planned improvements totaling $3 billion to transform access and development at Union Station, the most transit-connected hub in Southern California. And those rail and mobility expansions are only part of the cornucopia of public investments intersecting in the Civic Center, which is anticipating changes stemming from an area Master Plan, the Downtown rezoning and community plan update, a potential tax-increment financing district, and more covered in TPR.

To integrate all those public investments into a "transit-oriented community," Metro has formed a task force with the city and county of Los Angeles and California High-Speed Rail Authority to coordinate their plans, "get out ahead of this change, make equity and sustainability part of the conversation, and leverage all the investments that we’re making as the public sector to capture some of the value we create," Hornstock explains.

"We want Union Station, and the larger Civic Center area that is directly connected to it, to be a national best practice for coming out ahead of change in a community in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable."

Thursday, September 21, 2017 in The Planning Report

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Acela train at Wilmington station in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Passenger Rail Revival Is Here

For the first time in decades, multiple rail projects are moving forward that could have a transformative impact on train travel in the United States.

May 21, 2024 - Route Fifty

California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing funding for tiny home shelter project in front of quick-build tiny home shelter unit.

California’s Tiny Home Pledge Still on Paper, One Year Later

A promise to fund 1,200 tiny homes for unhoused residents in four cities as a way to rapidly and cost-effectively provide shelter has yet to yield tangible results, but projects are moving ahead in some cities.

May 24 - CALmatters

Residential neighborhood in Colorado with fall foliage and snowy mountains in background.

Colorado Ends Non-Family Occupancy Limits

Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to limit how many unrelated adults can live in a household, a move that supporters say will help lower housing costs and help older adults supplement their incomes and stay in their homes.

May 24 - Strong Towns

A white crosswalk painted by Crosswalk Collective LA in Los Angeles, California.

Guerilla Urbanism Spurs Action From Cities

Rather than take a hostile approach to DIY urbanism, some cities are using guerilla efforts as an opportunity to understand critical infrastructure gaps.

May 24 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.