LANCASTER — City officials announced plans Monday to build a $5-million Metrolink station on 12 acres downtown in anticipation of commuter rail service to Los Angeles within five years.
City officials said they hope to build the station at the southeast corner of Sierra Highway and Lancaster Boulevard. The property--which now includes a used-car lot, tile store, furniture store, cabinet store and offices--would be used initially as a park-and-ride lot for up to 1,000 vehicles.
A train station could be built on the land when the Metrolink rail system reaches the Antelope Valley.
The station design unveiled by city officials is patterned after the original wooden Southern Pacific railroad station that once occupied the site. The Antelope Valley was served by passenger rail service through the 1960s. The station was destroyed in a 1976 fire.
One question, however, looms over the city's plans: It's not known when regional transit officials plan to extend Metrolink service to the Antelope Valley from Santa Clarita, now the system's nearest high desert stop. Rail officials have predicted that would occur within five years, but no firm date has been set.
Another question is funding. Although city officials have said they are willing to contribute at least $1.1 million toward the project, they recently applied to the county's Metropolitan Transit Authority for the remainder of the cost--estimated at $4.1 million--needed to complete the project.
The city's cost estimate includes purchase of the 11.7 acres and construction of the station.
But the city's application ranked only 36th out of 56 commuter rail and transit center projects in the county submitted for funding, according to an initial evaluation by transit authority staff members, an MTA spokesman said. At most, there will be $29 million in funding for $167 million worth of requests.
County transportation officials paved the way for restoring commuter rail service to the Antelope Valley in September when they paid $68 million to Southern Pacific to purchase 78 miles of railroad right of way between Santa Clarita and Lancaster.