Up in the Air: Urban Design for Light Rail Stations in Highway Medians

Good urban design is essential if transit stations are to successfully connect to the communities that surround them. Increasingly, transit agencies are constructing light rail systems in and above freeway medians to reduce land acquisition costs, minimize traffic conflicts, and increase train speeds. Elevated stations, however, are difficult to physically link to surrounding communities, resulting in lost opportunities for transit-oriented development (TOD). This study examined all 14 elevated and freeway-median light rail stations along the Green and Gold Lines in Los Angeles. Challenges in accessing these stations and connecting to surrounding communities are documented. Remedies are suggested based on a review of good urban-design practices and interventions for different contexts that have been successful in improving station access. The study tests some of these interventions using as case studies four elevated Green Line stations.