Legislators rally behind light-rail line from Artesia to downtown LA

PARAMOUNT – In the hope of easing traffic congestion and spurring economic development, state legislators and local city officials last month called for renewed efforts to construct a 20-mile light-rail system from Artesia to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. 

Gathered inside a conference room in Paramount, state Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) reiterated his support for the light-rail Eco-Rapid Transit line, formerly known as the Orangeline. 

“I am pleased with the tremendous support shown from statewide and regional leaders for this project,” said Mendoza. “We must ensure that the ‘Gateway Cities’ receive their fair share of funding to complete the Eco-Rapid Transit light-rail line. 

“The project will transform our region and provide much-needed transportation options for the ‘Gateway Cities’ residents.”

Michael R. Kodama, executive director of the Eco-Rapid Transit, thanked Mendoza for his commitment to the rail line.

“With his support, we were able to bring together the largest and most influential gathering ever of local and statewide officials to support the project,” Kodama said. 

Ultimately, officials hope to connect over four million residents along an old Union Pacific Railroad route via the new regional transportation system, but finding funding is the biggest hurdle. 

While the Eco-Rapid line was approved as a Measure R project, Los Angeles County is considering a bond measure to raise the remaining funds. Last week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority Board (MTA) officially released $18 million in Measure R funds for the predevelopment and planning stages. 

Overall, $240 million from Measure R will go towards the project, which estimated to cost upwards of $4.3 billion and will created an estimated 52,000 construction jobs. But officials maintain the transit line will eventually serve a daily ridership of 75,000, generating $6.68 billion in economic growth as redevelopment spreads around every station. 

Mendoza praised the MTA’s decision to kick start the project last week.

“This investment of resources brings us one step closer to ensuring that the necessary funds are available to develop and build the light-rail line to completion,” Mendoza said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to build a 21st century transportation system that will benefit the Gateway Cities’ residents for generations.”

Slated to open in 2027, the Eco-Rapid Transit will run along the West Santa Ana Branch Transit corridor, an abandoned Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Artesia north through Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Cudahy, Downey, Gardena, Huntington Park, Maywood, Paramount, South Gate, and Vernon before heading along the northwest side of the L.A. River to Union Station.