By Steve Hymon, October 22, 2013
The Master Plan team is asking the agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday for approval to further develop a concept that would construct a greatly expanded east-west passenger concourse while relocating the bus plaza to a north-south configuration closer to Alameda Street that would also consolidate many of the bus stops around Union Station.
The above staff handout includes several good visuals that best explain the concept. It’s important to keep in mind that these are not final designs by any means — in other words, these are not architectural plans. Rather, it’s a chance for the Board to start their process of deciding what-goes-where on the 40-acre Union Station property.
As the staff report below explains, some of the rationale for this approach for the relocated bus terminal are:
• More flexibility to grow and change, if needed;The report also explains the reasons for pursuing an East-West Passenger Concourse:
• Best connections/transfers to other modes;
• Preserve the historic integrity of the station;
• Strongest connection to existing street bus stops including the Silver Line/EI Monte transitway and Alameda and Cesar Chavez bus routes;
• Most successful at minimizing pedestrian/bus conflicts.
• Creates strong east/west spine across the site both to accommodate transit and knit together the two sides of the property;Naturally, a few questions have been raised about two existing current structures — the Patsaouras Transit Plaza and the Mozaic Apartments. Bottom line: Under the new plan, the transit plaza would be relocated and the Mozaic perhaps replaced. The large four-story underground parking garage built as part of the transit plaza would remain.
• Can be phased to work with SCRIP, leveraging the opportunity to realize improvements in the concourse while accommodating the access changes necessitated by SCRIP [SCRIP is the acronym for the run-through tracks project that will allow trains to arrive and depart from Union Station to both the north and south];
• Allows a reconfiguring of the east side of the property which can promote development;
• Frees up the historic station for re-programming that creates a destination not completely reliant upon the transit uses.
Of course, it’s still going to take quite some time to finish the master plan, have the new buildings designed, engineered and then secure funding for them. By the time that occurs, both the existing transit plaza and apartment building will have likely been around for quite some time.
One project that is going forward — with federal funding — is the new El Monte Busway station on the south side of the Union Station property along the 101 freeway. In the meantime, Metro is also working on several other fronts, including an effort to better link Union Station to the surrounding area and provide more amenities in the existing station.
Union Station Master Plan item