Elected officials praise Metro’s completion of southern portion of New Blue improvements

Officials will now focus on northern section of Metro Blue Line from Compton to 7th Street stations.

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Elected officials praise Metro’s completion of southern portion of New Blue improvements

Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia look on as a Metro official showcases the new kiosks that are now available at select Metro stations and all of the southern segment portion of the Blue Line.

Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia look on as a Metro official showcases the new kiosks that are now available at select Metro stations and all of the southern segment portion of the Blue Line.

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia look on as a Metro official showcases the new kiosks that are now available at select Metro stations and all of the southern segment portion of the Blue Line.

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia look on as a Metro official showcases the new kiosks that are now available at select Metro stations and all of the southern segment portion of the Blue Line.

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Frequent riders on the Metro Blue Line’s Compton to Downtown Long Beach stations can abandon the bus-shuttle service that has aided them since January in favor of the upgraded rail service, that boasts completed renovations and will return Saturday, June 1, officials said.

Now at its midpoint, the New Blue Improvements Project has finished its first phase, as workers completed the southern section of the Blue Line between the Compton and Downtown Long Beach Blue Line stations and move toward working on the northern section from the Compton and 7th Street/Metro stations until the end of September.

At a press conference at the Compton Station Wednesday, May 29, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is a Metro board member, said he is elated to see light-rail services return to the downtown Long Beach area.

“We also want to make sure people know that even though the construction on the actual rail line is finished, there is still lots of work happening along the line, whether it’s fencing work, landscaping that’s happening, painting and other work sprucing up the line itself,” he said. “So, while the construction is complete, much of the landscaping work is still ongoing.”

Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia praised the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) completion of the southern section of the Blue Line during a press conference Wednesday, May 29, at the Compton Blue Line Station. On June 1, work on the northern section will commence.

While the southern section of the Blue Line will reopen Saturday, the northern section’s services will be suspended. Bus-shuttle services will be offered through the Compton and 7th Street/Metro Station route.

Sixty days of construction work at the junction of the Expo and Blue lines near Washington and Grand Avenue will also begin Saturday, June 22, officials announced. Bus shuttles will replace the Expo Line service between LATTC/Ortho Inst and 7th Street/Metro stations.

The $350-million New Blue project intends to overhaul Metro’s oldest and busiest light-rail service to improve reliability, safety and customer experience, Metro officials announced earlier this year.

Currently, the improvements to the system include upgrading rail tracks, overhead power lines, train control and adding switches. Moreover, station-area upgrades will be installed, including interactive information kiosks, repainted stations, new signage and fresh landscaping.

The primary upgrade showcased at Wednesday’s press conference was the informational kiosks, which officials said works like “an oversized iPhone.”

The kiosks work like “an oversized iPhone,” providing real-time train and bus arrival times, service alerts, emergency messages and ads.

Metro partnered with technology and media company Intersection to provide the interactive digital displays, present at select stations and in the southern section of the Blue Line. The kiosks provide real-time train and bus arrival times, service alerts, emergency messages and ads.

“Metro engineers and construction workers have been working day and night on the southern section,” said 4th District Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “[…] And we know that the last four months have been difficult for the riders— and these riders on the Blue Line are our most loyal riders of the entire system for Metro. We appreciate their patience, and we appreciate how they’ve embraced the shuttle system. And we have readjusted the schedule so they met the needs of our riders. And now many of these commuters like the Express shuttles so much, they want to make it a permanent service. Mayor Garcia and I think that’s a great idea, and one that we have pledged to make happen.”

The aforementioned bus-shuttle services— which includes transportation to select Blue Line station stops, all stops or an express service straight to downtown from any station— will be offered at varied rates for customers during the northern-section construction. Route and cost information can be found at metro.net/newblue.

Metro officials said that ambassadors will be on-site at the northern-section stations to provide information to passengers.

When the New Blue project is completed in its entirety, the rail system will be renamed from the Metro Blue Line to the Line A system, transitioning past the color-coded navigation that has served as Metro’s staple for decades.

Perhaps undergoing the biggest transformation is the Willowbrooks/Rosa Parks Station, which is the only stop along the Blue Line that is closed throughout the entire eight-month project. Dubbed a total renovation, the station will have a longer platform, new canopies and a new southern pedestrian entrance. Work is expected to be completed at the end of September.

But arguably the biggest change to the Willowbrooks/Rosa Parks Station will be the slight tweaking of its name.

“[We’ve talked about] the Rosa Parks/Willowbrook Station and changing that [name] around,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington. “We are looking into doing that. And we know that station remains closed as we get this rehab of the entire line, that is going to be pretty much a brand new station. So we’re very very happy to do this. This whole line will be a state-of-the-art rail line that all of us can be proud of.”