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."