Closed for repairs

The Metro Blue Line will close Jan. 26, the beginning of two four-month closures of different portions of the rail to enhance, upgrade transit system for the fall

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Closed for repairs

At the Willow Street Blue Line Station on Tuesday morning during a press conference, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is a Metro board member, said the New Blue project is a transformation of Metro’s oldest trail, the Blue Line, which connects patrons from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. Garcia said the two four-month closures of Metro’s Blue Line will be “impactful” but “necessary.”

At the Willow Street Blue Line Station on Tuesday morning during a press conference, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is a Metro board member, said the New Blue project is a transformation of Metro’s oldest trail, the Blue Line, which connects patrons from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. Garcia said the two four-month closures of Metro’s Blue Line will be “impactful” but “necessary.”

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

At the Willow Street Blue Line Station on Tuesday morning during a press conference, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is a Metro board member, said the New Blue project is a transformation of Metro’s oldest trail, the Blue Line, which connects patrons from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. Garcia said the two four-month closures of Metro’s Blue Line will be “impactful” but “necessary.”

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

At the Willow Street Blue Line Station on Tuesday morning during a press conference, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is a Metro board member, said the New Blue project is a transformation of Metro’s oldest trail, the Blue Line, which connects patrons from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles. Garcia said the two four-month closures of Metro’s Blue Line will be “impactful” but “necessary.”

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Frequent riders of Metro’s Blue Line rail only have a few more hours to enjoy one last ride before officials begin the first phase of shutdowns of the transit system Saturday, Jan. 26, at 4am.

The temporary closure of the Blue Line is a result of an eight-month, $350-million project, “New Blue,” that aims to serve as an enhancement to the train’s safety, as well as providing a variety of upgrades and new resources for riders.

Work on the Blue Line will be separated into two four-month closures. The project begins early Saturday morning from Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station to Downtown Long Beach Station. In May, the northern segment– Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station to 7th St./Metro Center Station– will be worked on for the next four months, ending in September.

“We know that the Blue Line is Metro’s main way of getting all of the folks that are working in and out of these cities up and down through our [neighborhoods] and our corridors,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia at a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Willow Street Blue Line Station.

Garcia, who is a Metro board member, added, “We know this project is an impact, but we also know that it is necessary.”

Once the project is completed, the Blue Line, which will renamed the “A Line”– the first rail to be renamed as part of Metro’s project, Garcia said – will boast new interactive displays, and the surrounding platforms will include new landscaping and fencing.

“Our best advice for riders this month is to plan ahead,” the mayor said.

Three levels of bus-shuttle services will be provided in lieu of the rail.

The 862 Local will be a free shuttle that will transport riders to and from all Blue Line stops during the closures Sunday through Thursday from 4:30am to 1:30am and Friday and Saturday from 4:30am to 2:30am.

It will run every six minutes during peak hours– 5:30am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm– and every 12 minutes during off-peak hours, according to a Metro fact sheet.

The 861 Select will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday from 5:30am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm at a cost of $1.75 to certain Blue Line stops.

The 860 Express will be a $1.75 trip with limited stops between downtown Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles. It will run Monday through Friday 5:30am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm every 12 minutes.

During the conference, Metro board member Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker said that, although Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will be closed along the Blue Line for a total of eight months– since it will be shut down during both the southern and northern portions of repairs throughout the two four-month periods– the station will still be active along the Green Line.

“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station is the fourth busiest in the entire Metro rail system,” said Dupont-Walker. “It is a key transfer point between the Blue Line, Green Line and many bus lines. The upcoming work will include some great customer-experience enhancements […]. We certainly don’t like to close the station for eight months, but the station reopens this fall, and it will be the kind of facility that the community deserves and that Metro has promised.”

Dupont-Walker said the project will expand the station’s platforms in an effort to reduce overcrowding, implement new overhead canopies to shield passengers from the sun and rain, and upgrade elevators, escalators, stairs and mezzanines between the Blue Line and Green Line.

Moreover, improvements will be made to the bus bays to provide more light, and new customer-service centers will be built, a transit-security system will be established, and a bike hub and community center will be created.

Tim Lindholm, Metro executive officer for capital projects, said the implementation of Metro’s State of Good Repair program allows the New Blue initiative to be possible. He said Measure M, a sales-tax plan, dedicates it funds to repair and maintenance for the Metro rail and bus system.

Tim Lindholm, Metro executive officer for capital projects, said during a press conference at the Willow Street Blue Line Station Jan. 22 that the implementation of Metro’s State of Good Repair program allows the New Blue initiative to be possible. He said Measure M, a sales-tax plan, dedicates it funds to repair and maintenance for the Metro rail and bus system– tax dollars that will be spent within the next eight months to repair Metro’s oldest rail system.

Lindholm said the Metro team will add four new crossover tracks, which would allow the Blue Line to easily switch trains between the tracks to reduce service interruptions and minimize the impact of future planned maintenance on daily service.

Rail tracks and overhead power lines will be replaced, and the Blue Line’s signal and train-control system will be overhauled, Lindholm said.

In addition to technical changes, Lindholm said the public can expect to see numerous developments to signage, painting and Metro’s system, schedule and station applications.

“After 29 years of daily service, the Blue Line needs some tender love and care,” Lindholm said. “No one likes these kind of closures, but the primary goal of this work is to rip off the Band-Aid and get the work done over the next eight months instead of it taking several years, with sporadic closures, impacting our bus routine more.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who is a Metro board member alongside Garcia, recounted a time about 30 years ago– in 1990– when she rode the Metro Blue Line with her father and young son when it first started operations in the county.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who serves on the Metro board with Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, called the Metro Blue Line the “workhorse” of Metro’s transit system. At a press conference Tuesday morning at the Willow Street Blue Line Station, Hahn said the closure will allow the rail to be safer and more efficient for riders when it reopens in the fall.

“My dad, the original supervisor Hahn, led the effort to build the Blue Line,” she said. “This was the first time that the taxpayers had agreed to tax themselves for a transportation system. And it was his idea that, if we asked the voters to do that, it’s probably not going to be the last time we asked them– which is really true. But we need to build something quickly, efficiently, so the taxpayers will say, ‘See, we’re paying these taxes and, look, they actually took our money and built a line that serviced us.’ This was our first modern, light rail in Los Angeles County.”

Hahn said that Metro originally estimated that the Blue Line would have 5,000 daily riders, but the demand for public transportation exceeded original expectations and, within a few months, daily ridership reached 12,000 people. The supervisor said that, in Metro’s first year operating the Blue Line, it reached a total of 32,000 people.

“And for the past 28 years, the Blue Line has been the workhorse of Metro’s transit system, has the highest ridership– now about 63,000 riders a day ride the Blue Line,” Hahn said. “But, you know, 28 to 30 years, that’s a long time. The Blue Line is in dire need of repairs and upgrades. All of us [could use] repairs and upgrades after 30 years. So, that’s why, in the next eight months, we’ll be investing $350 million in the Blue Line, making it safer and more reliable for riders.”

For more information about all upgrades and services, visit metro.net/newblue.