Downey park-and-ride station planned for commuter line

By Arnold Adler

Contributing Writer

DOWNEY — A park-and-ride station on Gardendale Street near Garfield Avenue is part of the commuter rail line being planned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the City Council was told in a report Sept. 22.

Vaniah De Rojas, assistant to City Manager Gil Livas, said the $6.5 billion dollar, 19-mile line would run  from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles through 12 cities in Southeast Los Angeles, ending in  Artesia.

Current plans call for the project to be completed by 2028, in time for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Construction is scheduled to start in 2023, De Rojas said.

Once known as the Orange Line, the route is now called the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor Project. It will pass through Artesia, Cerritos, Bellflower, Downey, Paramount, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park, Vernon and the unincorporated Florence-Graham area of South Los Angeles.

Most of the line

The Downey park and ride station is on property owned by Union Pacific Railroad, and abuts the south campus of the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, De Rojas said in her report.

“The future station presents an opportunity to provide convenient access for future Los Angeles County employees traveling to the planned Rancho Los Amigos South Campus, which is being developed to accommodate approximately 4,000 jobs in the area,” De Rojas added.

The Downey City Council approved the legally required agreement with the MTA Sept. 22, allowing the agency to go through the city and giving Downey a say in construction plans. The MTA, which recently concluded a similar agreement with Paramount, must obtain a similar contract with each affected city.

Downey officials have previously approved the county project, which included a soccer stadium and which would not interfere with a vacant warehouse used by the Downey Rose Float Association to build a float each year for the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

De Rojas said that Downey and MTA officials reviewed the plan in April. It calls for following regional and city land use policies, minimizing environmental impacts, ensuring cost effectiveness and financial feasibility.

Cities will be reimbursed costs for staff time and other issues in the construction, she said.

The affected area is home to 1.2 million residents and is a job center to approximately 584,000 employees. Projections show the resident population increasing to 1.5 million and jobs increasing to 670,000 by 2040.

“The rail corridor is anticipated to serve commuters in a high-travel demand corridor by providing relief to the limited transportation systems currently available to these communities,” De Rojas said. “In addition the project is expected to provide a direct connection to the MTA’s Green and Blue Lines.”

The Green Line runs along the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway from Norwalk to El Segundo, with a planned extension to Los Angeles International Airport.

The Blue Line commuter train goes from Long Beach north through Compton to Los Angeles Union Station.

Funding is planned using an expected $4 billion from Los Angeles County Measure M, a voter approved sales tax; and from federal, state and other local sources along with private participation.

Arnold Adler is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers Norwalk, Downey, Paramount and Bellflower.