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.”
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.