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When the Gold Line Extension Opens, Will Downtown Ride?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, October 30, 2009, at 03:55PM
Gold Line Eastside Extension Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A train crosses the intersection of 1st and Alameda during testing on Metro's Gold Line Eastside Extension, which opens on November 15.

The six-mile Gold Line Eastside Extension opens on November 15, connecting East L.A. and Boyle Heights to Union Station. The stop nearest to most Downtown residents is the Little Tokyo / Arts District station, at the corner of 1st and Alameda.

On a Friday morning preview ride, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Jose Huizar praised the line and the impact it will have on the eastside. It remains to be seen, though, if those who live Downtown will become regular riders.

Councilman Jose Huizar was a law student at UCLA when he served on the resident advisory committee for what was then to be a subway extension into East L.A. He's excited to see the line finally open. "The benefits are tremendous," he said Friday, citing the environment, traffic congestion and economic development as specific areas of improvement.

He said that he hopes to see more than just existing transit riders using the rails. "We have bus routes right now, but you want to be able to attract all demographics," said Huizar. "You attract all demographics by [building] a rail line."

So what would Huizar tell Downtowners about the line? The Boyle Heights native emphasized the "wonderful restaurants and beautiful, historic communities" along the line. "It's going to be a great place for people Downtown to explore," he said.

Specifically, Huizar recommended Mariachi Plaza for free entertainment, La Serenata de Garibaldi for food (the Mayor also called this his favorite restaurant), the Eastside Luv wine bar for stand-up poetry and local bands and El Mercado for shopping.

Those who live Downtown and elsewhere in the city will have an easier time checking out those attractions if Metro builds the Regional Connector, a light rail project intended to link the Gold Line with the Blue Line and Expo Line. Villaraigosa, who planned to unveil his vision to speed up transit construction on Friday afternoon, called the Connector "a key to that plan."

"All these lines were built, and they don't interface very well," said Villaraigosa. "The Connector allows them to interface in a way that will speed up travel time and will move more people along."

So what will it be, Downtown? Do you plan to ride? We're curious and undecided here at blogdowntown.

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