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Friday, February 26, 2010

LA to study underground alternative for Regional Connector

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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors approved the addition of a new fully underground light rail alternative underneath Little Tokyo for the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study now in environmental review. The new alternative was added to meet the concerns of the Little Tokyo/Arts District Community raised during scoping and ongoing working group meetings. Community members opposed an at-grade crossing at First and Alameda Streets, asserting the alternative would disrupt street activity in the historic Little Tokyo area.

The new alternative now enjoys full community support and will consist of two variations for a complete underground crossing at this intersection, keeping trains fully grade-separated. It also includes an additional underground station. Portals would be built on both First and Alameda Streets to allow trains to surface and connect to the existing Metro Gold Line both to Pasadena and East Los Angeles.

The project team is preparing the project's Draft Environmental Impact Study/Report and will now conduct the technical studies needed to determine costs, impacts and benefits of the alternative projected to cost roughly between $200 million and $300 million. As part of the environmental review process, planners will consider ways to reduce these additional costs. The agency is scheduled to present a Locally Preferred Alternative for final environmental review to its Board of Directors later this year.

If fully funded through a combination of local, state and federal funds, the project could break ground in 2014 and open in the 2018-2019 timeframe.

A partially funded Measure R project, the Regional Connector seeks to complete a nearly two-mile transit gap between the Metro Gold Line, Metro Blue Line and future Expo Line through downtown Los Angeles. The project will minimize the need for transfers, reducing one-way light rail trips across the county by 10 to 30 minutes or more.