Locally Preferred Alternative
Metro has completed the Alternatives Analysis process and selected a Locally Preferred Alternative alignment for the Downtown L.A. Streetcar. The LPA was selected after multiple public meetings and valuable community input. The alignment selected will be studied for environmental certification as the streetcar project continues.
Learn more about the Alternatives Analysis process and the Locally Preferred Alternative at Metro’s Streetcar page, located here.
General Alignment Considerations
Noted below are the key engineering and technical considerations that were used to develop the conceptual alignments and the Locally Preferred Alternative. These efforts were guided by the Core Services Map (see above for details).
- Street Grade: nearly every cities faces street grades issues when developing a streetcar system. Downtown L.A. is no different, as many of the north-south arterials have substantial grades as they approach Bunker Hill and the Financial District. Streetcars have a difficult time safely traversing urban environments where roadways encounter slopes greater than 10%, with most existing streetcar systems designed for maximum slopes of 7%. These engineering realities limit the configuration of streetcar alignments within Downtown, as many roads approach or exceed the 7% and 10% grade thresholds.
- Couplet: A couplet, in which one set of tracks runs on a separate street in a different direction, allows the streetcar to benefit two different streets while minimizing traffic impacts. The benefits of having routes close together, within a block or two, is that riders can reach their destinations in a timely manner by walking a block to catch a streetcar running in their desired direction, while not having to ride the entire route to get there. This bi-directional pairing will facilitate pedestrian activity along the routes, and with the implementation of wayfinding technologies, will allow riders to gauge their transit times accurately.
- Right Turns: all the alignments run clockwise to minimize the number of left turns. Streetcars crossing four-way intersections via left turns require special intersection treatments (such as signal prioritization) that can considerably slow traffic. Typically, right turns do not require special treatments as streetcars are able to navigate within existing street configurations and technologies.
- Feasibility: model streetcar projects in the United States – including Portland and Seattle – initially developed demonstration projects to illustrate how streetcars can integrate with and enhance urban environments. Following this model, LASI is pursuing conceptual alignments that are feasible – in terms of cost, length, and complexity – while also being mindful of long-term expansion opportunities. As the Core Services Area Map indicates, future streetcar extensions are well positioned to integrate with any of the conceptual alignments.
- Connections: large attractions, employment centers, entertainment hubs, and residential communities are dispersed throughout Downtown, and public comments have consistently called for the streetcar to provide an efficient and dependable connection between these urban nodes. All conceptual streetcar alignments are mindful of these nodes, and have attempted to incorporate as many as possible into their respective alignments. Due to engineering, technical, and financial limitations, each alignment has particular strengths and weaknesses in terms of their connections to these nodes.
- Integration with Current and Future Transportation Systems: ensuring the streetcar functions to enhance Downtown’s transit circulation and connectivity was a key element of the conceptual alignment configurations. Determining how the streetcar can enhance and accentuate, but not supplant existing transit service resulted in much consideration of current and future transit developments (i.e. bus routes, regional connector, etc.). In addition, much thought was given to the streetcar’s relationship to existing and planned light-rail and subway systems in Downtown, with specific thought given to how the streetcar can enhance the service provided by the Red/Purple, Blue, Gold, and Expo lines.