Thursday, August 01, 2013

Latest Community Meeting on the Union Station Master Plan is TONIGHT at the Cathedral

The Union Station Master Plan team is holding a community workshop tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Our Cathedral of the Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles to discuss their latest work on the plan to improve the 74-year-old station. If you can’t make it, no reason to fret — the meeting will be live-streamed and also available for later viewing.
First, a bit of history for those new to the project. Metro purchased Union Station and about 40 acres of land from a private firm for about $70 million in 2011. The acquisition was important to Metro because it gives the agency control over the busiest transit hub in Southern California.
In May, the Union Station Master Plan team released released diagrams of four alternatives for the Master Plan that seek to improve transit access and relieve crowding, better connect the station to surrounding neighborhoods and accommodate high-speed rail and future development on the site. Here’s a Source post that explains the alternatives.
We’ll have the full PowerPoint presentation that will be shown at Thursday’s meeting online tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d like to share a few nuggets that will likely be of interest to the many of you closely following this project:
•There are actually three ongoing projects involving Union Station.
In addition to the Master Plan, there is a study underway to improve signage and wayfinding at Union Station. All non-electronic signs are scheduled to be replaced by May 2014. New signs will share a more consistent design style, use more pictograms and be accessible across more languages.
The second study involves working with the city of Los Angeles to improve linkages between Union Station to downtown L.A. and surrounding neighborhoods. That’s important because Union Station is located on the far northern side of sprawling downtown and on the other side of the 101 freeway.
•In addition to those studies, Metro is also pursuing some other short-term improvements for Union Station such as upgrading and adding restrooms, leasing restaurant space and possibly turning the old ticket room at the front of the station into a marketplace with different vendors.
•While the Union Station Master Plan mostly involves what happens on the 40 acres including the station, a couple of the more interesting slides in the new presentation shows a concept to improve pedestrian access and provide more open space at the front of the station:
Alameda Plan
Illustrations credit: Metro.
Illustrations credit: Metro.
Of course, this is just a concept at this time and would involve working with other agencies and the city of Los Angeles. But it’s certainly intriguing!
•There is also some new graphics showing what an expanded passenger concourse providing more room for passengers may look like in the station, as well as maps showing sites that may be best-suited for any future development on the Union Station property.
Enjoy the meeting and we’ll post the new presentation on Thursday. And, of course, please feel free to post comments and questions on the blog.
Keep reading for the full press release from Metro:
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today released refined concepts for the Union Station master plan that reflect public input to date and continued technical analysis for the evolution of the station as a transportation hub and an iconic destination.  A public meeting will be held tonight at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the current concepts and continue the public dialogue.   
The master plan team consisting of Metro, and Los Angeles-based Gruen Associates and Grimshaw Architects of New York and London, have refined the concepts with particular emphasis on earlier public input that dealt largely with proposed improvements to transit connections.  Key proposals being evaluated include the possibility of a new passenger concourse, a new terminal for all buses that serve Union Station, as well as improved accessibility through the station and connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Ongoing public review and fine-tuning of the alternative concepts is part of a multi-phase process to create a master plan for the historic Union Station and its surrounding 47 acres in downtown Los Angeles.  The effort began with the selection of a Master Plan team in June 2012.  Since then, the team has been involved in data collection and technical studies, has solicited feedback from the community and other stakeholders and created four draft alternative plans.
“Union Station is the centerpiece for this planning process.  We will ensure that it is a world-class destination for Los Angeles now and into the future that can accommodate the growth of our transportation network and be an efficient and convenient hub for our passengers,” said Art Leahy, Metro Chief Executive Officer. 
Community input is being incorporated into the four alternative concepts which were first presented at the May 2, 2013 community workshop.  These alternatives focus on transit operations, options for expanded bus operations, and a larger passenger concourse while leaving open the potential for additional heavy and light rail service in the future.
The alternatives satisfy near, medium and long-term goals and allow for the seamless integration of high speed rail at Union Station at some time in the future.  All of these concepts protect and enhance the historic station.  Development opportunities that take advantage of transit access and support a world-class transit facility will be explored more fully in the final Master Plan, which will be completed by Summer 2014.
“The Master Plan will be a guide that illustrates how the Union Station property should be used for transportation purposes, future development, and community activities.  The refined alternatives show optional approaches for a range of land uses.  From these options, one approach will be recommended and developed more fully. Community input will help us determine which approach should be recommended,” added Martha Welborne, Executive Director, Metro Countywide Planning.
Pedestrian and bicyclist circulation and connections to neighboring communities are a priority for the master plan but require study beyond the master plan’s boundaries.  To that end, Metro is conducting a study of pedestrian and bicycle linkages to and from Union Station, funded in part by a Caltrans grant and in collaboration with the Southern California Association of Governments and a number of Los Angeles City departments.  This “linkages” study will create a prioritized public improvement plan that will be closely coordinated with the final Union Station Master Plan and will completed at the same time as the Master Plan.
The public will next be invited to comment on the refined alternatives, as well as comment on a recommendation for a preferred alternative, at a workshop with the Metro Board of Directors on September 18 at 3:30 p.m.  Following this workshop, the Metro Board will be asked to adopt a preferred alternative for further development at its regular meeting in October.
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Note:  Tonight’s meeting will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Ballroom A/C, 555 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.  It will also be streamed live and can be accessed at and will be recorded for later viewing.

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