FTA Grants Record of Decision to Regional Connector Project

Last Friday, while Metro was celebrating the impending public opening of the Metro Orange Line Extension, the agency received some excellent news from the Federal Transit Administration on the Regional Connector Project.

FTA granted the Metro a Record of Decision (ROD) for the $1.37 billion project, officially certifying that the project has now satisfied all federal environmental guidelines.

The action is an important prerequisite for Metro to begin final design of the nearly two-mile underground light rail line in Downtown L.A. and for the agency to seek federal funding to help build it.

Regional Connector, partially funded with $160 million in Measure R sales tax money approved by voters in 2008, is considered one of the region’s most significant transit projects because it will connect the Metro Gold Line, Blue Line and Expo Line through downtown L.A., enabling passengers to take a “one seat ride” from Montclair to Long Beach, and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica.

The line will include three new light rail stations in Downtown Los Angeles at 1st/Central, 2nd/Broadway, and 2nd/Hope.  The new stations are estimated to provide access to 88,200 passengers, including approximately 17,700 new transit riders.

With the ROD now in hand, Metro can request initiation of  final design and commence discussions with the FTA to secure a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), which will constitute a federal matching contribution to the project.  Metro estimates construction of the tunnel and new stations could begin in August 2013.  Initial utility relocation work could begin in July of this year.  The project, if fully funded, could open in 2019.

Metro staff is planning a round of community meetings, estimated to take place in late August 2012, to discuss the stations and station area design process.

13 replies

  1. Very exciting news. I can’t wait to see what the city will be like with all of the options Downtown.

  2. Come on — get real! Most of us probably won’t live long enough to see a “one-seat” ride from Montclair to Long Beach! More to the point, who will want to? What the regional connector will do is to force those people who travel between two of the largest Spanish-language areas of Los Angeles — Highland Park and East Los Angeles — to get off of one train at the Little Tokyo station and wait for another train to complete their trip. I don’t have any empirical evidence to back up this contention, but I believe that far more people travel between Highland Park and East Los Angeles than will do so from Pasadena to Long Beach. Of course, I don’t believe that Metro has any empirical evidence to justify Pasadena-Long Beach projected passenger studies, either.

  3. i really hope we can speed up the timeline for a couple reasons.

    i know im preaching to the choir here, but…

    A) This is a very very important project for our rail system and downtown LA

    B) We need to minimize the affects of construction on Downtown Businesses

  4. This is great news. I could have used the Regional Connector this weekend for Anime Expo, avoiding the transfer between the convention center and Little Tokyo.

  5. James,

    The regional connector would’ve been nice to go between Anime Expo and Little Tokyo, but it’s also a rip-off when you consider that you’ll be spending $1.50 everytime you go back and forth between Little Tokyo and LA Convention Center when one can also go all the way from Long Beach to Montclair for the same $1.50 deal.

    The further Metro spans out, it makes no sense at all to keep a flat rate policy. Massive fare reform is needed soon and it has to be done now before implementation costs rise trying to implement that later when the system has expanded with too many stations.

    Why can’t Metro just learn the distance fare concept from Asian transit agencies? Is it so hard to learn from others?

  6. This project will transform the transportation system in Los Angeles. This most important project along with the Westside Subway Extension will finally help LA become the world class city that it is. Can’t wait to ride it!! Fantastic!

  7. @ Steve P

    Start lobbying the Metro Board to change the fare structure. Leaving comments on a blog on how Asian transit is much more efficiently run has little to no effect on convincing the decision makers in changing the fare policy.

  8. @Mospaeda

    This is a government blog funded by our tax dollars (not a blog run by Joe Six Pack living in his mother’s garage) whose comments are posted by taxpayers. The comments section is also a taxpayer feedback to respond from transit related articles.

    Hence, this is the best place for taxpayers to leave comments regarding transportation policy, whether or not the Metro board politicians are too busy kissing babies or making empty promises and getting paid themselves six digit incomes from our tax dollars for spearheading this city into bankruptcy read this or not.

    Why? Because this comment section also enables those who are reading this to reach out to local voters who elect these politicians to the Metro board.

    If the Metro Board isn’t doing a good job in making Metro run more financially solid on its own, we can fire them by kicking them out of office.

  9. @ Steve P

    I will admit that the source is useful too in sharing ideas with other blog readers. But I would not idealize as the best place to give public feedback.

    Given The way the this Board is structured makes it really difficult to “fire” a board member if you feel that they are not fiscally managing Metro properly since they are most likely being voted for reasons outside of Metro. The Board structure is given below
    5 LA county Supervisors
    The Mayor of Los Angeles
    3 appointees of the Mayor
    4 council members from cities that are not Los Angeles
    and 1 non voting member appointed by the Governor.

    This is why I believe it is more prudent to direct criticism and change minds towards to head of the organization (i.e. the Metro Board) then hope some intermediary (i.e. The Source) to effectively convey your message.

    I mean just look a the FREE MUNI for Youths group convincing the SFMTA to persuaded that agency to side with their cause. Regardless of whether you agree with that groups position or not it shoes that having an active dialog with elected officials can provide more results than simply retorting to “Im a taxpayer and you should listen to me.”

  10. Politicians should be left out of anything to do with Metro. Majority of these people don’t even use mass transit anyway so they have zero idea what’s wrong with the issues at hand.