downtown los angeles, financial district

New Metro Pedestrian Tunnel in Downtown LA Opening Jan 2017

The busiest station in Los Angeles' growing rail network, 7th/Metro Center, will be connected directly into The Bloc by a new pedestrian tunnel

Not all exciting developments have to be large-scale mega projects (although what DTLA fan isn’t¬†absolutely thrilled by all the recent high-rise proposals from South Park to the Civic Center to the Arts District?). For me, I am often just as excited by the smaller-scale urban developments happening on the ground level that’s focused on enhancing the pedestrian experience, and in this case, what’s happening underground. After speaking to two different Metro contractors onsite, they both have told me that the new Metro pedestrian tunnel linking the 7th/Metro Center subway station to The Bloc shopping center will be completed early next month!

In case you didn’t know, the 7th/Metro Center station is the busiest metro station in the Los Angeles rail network due to the high amount of transfers that take place with the Red, Purple, Blue, and Expo Lines all intersecting here. Now, it will also become the only station in Los Angeles that links directly into a private commercial property via a pedestrian tunnel, which is something very common in transit-oriented cities around the world. For example, the Bloomingdale’s flagship dept store in New York actually has a subway station — the Lexington Ave Line — that connects directly into the store’s basement shopping level, which is also appropriately named “No. 59 Metro.”

I love when subway stations connect directly into stores in transit-oriented cities like New York as seen here with the flagship Bloomingdale’s store with direct access into the Lexington Ave Line

Don’t forget 7th/Metro Center is also the only subway station in Los Angeles that has an actual store inside (outside of Union Station).

Funding for the new 12-foot long pedestrian tunnel — an estimated cost of $9.3 million — was approved back in April 2015. Metro planners and engineers designed the station back in the 80s with “knock-out panels” that make it possible to connect via tunnel to neighboring commercial properties. This will allow metro riders to conveniently access The Bloc without having to come up to the street level. According to a Metro employee I spoke to a few years ago who helped design the station, there is also at least one other knock-out panel that could lead directly into FIGat7th one day if the shopping center was tweaked a bit.

Although work will be completed by early January, there’s no official word yet as to when the tunnel will be open to the public. According to a Metro official I spoke to onsite this week (just before the Christmas weekend), the pedestrian tunnel will be open to the public on Sunday, January 22, 2017!

I have always wondered if another pedestrian tunnel could eventually connect into 505 Flower, which is an underground shopping center underneath City National Plaza. This idea won’t seem so outlandish as the Los Angeles of the future continues to mature into an urban center that sees the value of creating a transit-oriented city.

In Jan 2017, Metro will be completing work on a new pedestrian tunnel that links The Bloc with the busy 7th/Metro Center subway station

You’ll pass by a brand new 24-hour Starbucks (on the left) on your way to the new pedestrian tunnel

Stairs, escalator, and elevator to Metro’s new pedestrian tunnel connecting to 7th/Metro Center subway station

A view into the new pedestrian tunnel that will connect into 7th/Metro Center

The tiled floor you see is actually already inside the 7th/Metro Center station just behind that door

View from inside 7th/Metro Center looking into The Bloc staircase

Another vantage point of the staircase that leads into The Bloc

Update: 12/15/16

Grey panels have gone in this week covering the walls along the tunnel

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17 Comments

  1. Many subway stations in Japan are attached to malls and shopping areas and I love it. They are so busy and full of activity and they bring more people onto the trains.

  2. sebstian says

    They should do the same thing to the Pico station in South Park, have it go underground and connect it to the new mall they are building there.

  3. Joe M says

    I believe this will make it the only Red Line Station with four entrances. Most have only one, and only a few have two.

  4. South Park Resident says

    Wow! That first picture looks like it could be in Manhattan with all those people!

    • Holder says

      It is. Read the article, it’s the station in Bloomingdales he talks about.

      • South Park Resident says

        That is NOT in Manhattan! The first picture is the 7th-Metro Center station here in DTLA! You’re talking about the other picture with Bloomingdales.

  5. Mike Chen says

    This is part of life in Asian cities where everyone takes PT. I’m glad LA is finally getting with it.

  6. JDRCRASHER says

    Brigham, when you’re referring to another tunnel to 505 S Flower, I’m assuming you’re talking about using the “pocket track” nearby to build the future 5th/Financial district station and then linking it up there?

    • No, I’m thinking if there was an underground passageway from 7th/Metro all the way up to 505 Flower, which would span about maybe 1.5 blocks long? I’m thinking the passageway could be located on the west side of the station near 7th/Figueroa and follow underground possibly along Lebanon Street (if you look on Google Maps, you’ll get a better idea). This would make it very convenient for riders to access City National Plaza. Psychologically, it would also feel like the subway station was “closer” if someone was already at 505 Flower and could just walk through a passageway to get to the station. A 1.5 block long tunnel seems so daunting here in Los Angeles, but it’s soo common in transit-oriented cities where there are entire networks of underground passageways that span for miles. I remember getting completely LOST in Shinjuku in the underground passageways that led to the Shinjuku Station.

      • David says

        I think the problem here would be the underground garages for buildings along the route (particularly at 6th & Flower and 6th & Fig) that already exist between City National Plaza and the station.

        • David, that’s true. I’m not sure what the underground condition is like from 7th/Metro to 505 Flower. But I’m sure there’s gotta be some way to get there via pedestrian tunnel! Think of all the cities in the world with that kind of underground infrastructure network in place with big buildings everywhere as well.

          • JDRCRASHER says

            Yeah it’s probably doable, but wouldn’t it be better if Metro instead waited until the Financial District station was built sometime in the future, after the Regional Connector was built?

  7. “Funding for the new 12-foot long pedestrian tunnel…” Twelve feet???

    • Belial Issimo says

      Yes, at only $750,000 per foot, or $65,000 per inch!

  8. sebstian says

    They should add another tunnel to the new Wilshire Grand Hotel or 7th and Fig.

  9. Abu Sayf says

    Just hope the tunnel won’t be haven for all the homeless and outlaw with ganster tagging everywhere.

  10. This is great news for LA! DC’s Metro has a number of direct underground connections to commercial properties. At the Metro Center station, there are two direct connections from different parts of the station into the basement of the flagship Macy’s. The department store originally opened as the new downtown Hecht’s flagship in the 80s. Hecht’s moved from it’s original location a few blocks east in order to directly connect to the subway.

    In nearby Arlington, VA, Ballston Quarter, a Forest City redevelopment similar in scope and design to The Bloc, will have a new pedestrian bridge connection to the Ballston Station and adjacent office buildings.

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