Regional connector update

The regional connector will allow passengers on both Gold Lines, the Blue Line and Expo Line to travel through downtown without switching trains.

The regional connector will allow passengers on both Gold Lines, the Blue Line and Expo Line to travel through downtown without switching trains.

The Metro employees planning the Downtown Regional Connector projects recently published their monthly update on the project, which I’ve cut and pasted below.

The connector would tie together the two Gold Lines, the Blue Line and Expo Line so that passengers on all four lines can travel into the heart of downtown L.A., the Civic Center and Little Tokyo without switching trains, as the map shows. Passengers will also be able to travel through downtown without transfers on east-west and north-south routes.

The update includes a couple nuggets of news:

1.) If the new proposed alternative for the regional connector is built as an underground line — that decision has yet to be made by the Metro Board of Directors — a new underground station in Little Tokyo would replace the existing street level station built for the Gold Line Eastside Extension. The existing station is on the northeast corner of 1st & Alameda; the underground one would be on the southwest corner.

And, in case you were wondering, the answer is yes: the new Gold Line was built well before plans for the downtown connector solidified, thus the need to potentially rebuild a new station.

2.) The station nearest the Civic Center area has shifted slightly west so that it’s between Broadway and 2nd Street. The idea is to put the station closer to Broadway, which the city of L.A. is trying to revitalize with new development and a streetcar line.

In related news, the Metro Board’s planning committee will later this month consider formally adding the Little Tokyo station underground option to the connector’s environmental study (here’s a link to an item on blogdowntown).

The underground option was added after considerable outcry in the Little Tokyo community over the original plans for tracks to cross Alameda at street level before going underground. In the new underground plan, the tracks would go below street level on the east side of Alameda.

The project update is after the jump.

Regional Connector E-Bulletin – February 2010

Happy 2010! We appreciate your valuable input in the Regional Connector Transit Corridor project thus far. We look forward to your ongoing participation so that we can continue to address issues in a timely way and consider project refinements that are supported by the community.

Latest News
As we move into the second month of 2010, we would like to share some project updates with you.  You may recall that Metro has, to date, studied four alternatives as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Report (Draft EIS/R): the required No Build and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) alternatives, as well as an at-grade emphasis alternative via Flower and; 2nd Streets with a couplet on Main and Los Angeles Streets, and an underground emphasis alternative under Flower and 2nd Streets crossing 1st and Alameda Streets at-grade.

During the Alternatives Analysis process a fully grade-separated underground alternative was identified and studied. However, it was ultimately eliminated due to physical constraints and impacts the alternative would have had on the community. During the scoping period, we heard from many in the community about the desire and need for a fully grade-separated alternative which would specifically address concerns regarding the intersection of 1st and Alameda Streets. In response to community concerns, Metro successfully revisited the alternative and diligently worked to address and minimize previously identified constraints.

In close coordination with the Little Tokyo community and other project stakeholders, Metro is now working to develop a fully grade-separated alternative for consideration.  The conceptual alternative was presented to the Little Tokyo Community Council on November 24, 2009, and Metro is continuing to refine this option further.

The primary features that distinguish the fully grade-separated alternative from the underground emphasis alternative are as follows:

*
Trains would pass under the intersection of 1st and Alameda Streets. One set of tracks would surface continuing east, allowing trains to travel east- or west-bound on the Gold Line alignment. The other set of tracks would surface to connect to the existing Gold Line bridge over the US-101 Freeway. This would allow trains to continue traveling north- or south-bound on the Gold Line alignment.

*
The existing at-grade station in Little Tokyo/Arts District would be relocated. A new station would potentially be located below ground level within the property currently occupied by Office Depot and other small commercial uses.

*
A proposed station at 2nd Street and Broadway would be located under 2nd Street between Broadway and Spring Street.

*
No Underpass or Pedestrian Bridge would be constructed at 1st and Alameda Streets, because no new at-grade tracks would be added to the intersection.

You can view Metro’s Blog posting about the alternative by following this link.

A fully grade separated alternative would need to be formally added to the Draft EIS/R, while the initial four alternatives will continue to be studied as part of the environmental process. Metro staff will make the formal request to include the additional build alternative in the EIS/R at Metro’s February 17th Planning and Programming Committee meeting.We encourage your attendance and your comments at this meeting.

In advance of this meeting, you are welcome to submit comments on the potential addition of the fully grade-separated alternative by email:regionalconnector@metro.net.

Next Steps

As the environmental studies continue to move forward, Metro anticipates hosting a series of community update meetings during April 2010. Metro staff is looking forward to providing you with an update on the progress of the technical studies, presenting the fully grade-separated alternative, and presenting any new information for community review.

Metro anticipates releasing the Draft EIS/R document during Summer 2010. The Draft EIS/R analysis will include a description of construction processes and potential mitigation measures. A set of public hearings will be scheduled to solicit feedback from the community regarding the findings of the study. The Final EIS/R will be available for community review during Fall 2011, where Metro will again solicit community feedback. The Final EIS/R will designate a Locally Preferred Alternative.

Stay in Touch!

For additional information or questions, to learn about upcoming meetings or to sign-up for study updates, please go to http://www.metro.net/regionalconnector or contact the project information line at 213.922.6934. You can also find us on Facebook at “Metro Regional Connector”, and feel free to email us at regionalconnector@metro.net

Another Thank You

Metro would like to again thank everyone who has provided comment on the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study. Metro is listening, and will continue to listen as the study progresses through the planning process.