New pics: Regional Connector progress on Bunker Hill and in Financial District

Photos by Ken Karagozian for Metro.

You may have seen that tunnel mining on the Regional Connector began a few weeks back. As the tunnel boring machine (known as ‘Angeli’) moves west across DTLA at a rate of 50 to 60 feet per day, crews at the future Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill Station at 2nd/Hope prepare to receive the tunnel boring machine in mid to late May.

Concrete placement at the station — the deepest of the three new underground stations in DTLA — has been ongoing for a few weeks and you can see in these photos how the invert, or station floor, is formed. Once the TBM breaks through at the east end of the station, she’ll be ‘walked’ to the southwest end, where it will resume excavating until it reaches the intersection of Flower and 4th streets.

The photos also show the progress of the tunnel box construction beneath Flower Street. It’s a busy work zone as crews carefully maneuver excavation equipment approximately 40 feet below street level. Once the TBM cutter head and shield are retrieved, Angeli will be transported back to Little Tokyo to begin mining the second tunnel. You can read all about tunneling in this handy fact sheet from the project.

The $1.751-billion Regional Connector is a pair of 1.9-mile rail tunnels under downtown Los Angeles that will link the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines. The project is expected to be complete in 2021.

When finished, the Connector will create two separate light rail lines — one that runs between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles and the other that runs between Azusa and Long Beach. The two lines will share five stations in downtown L.A. The new arrangement will allow for more frequent and faster light rail service and will either eliminate or reduce transfers for most riders going to and through downtown Los Angeles.

The project is funded largely by the Measure R sales tax and a federal grant and loan from the Federal Transit Administration.

Related: 

Fresh pics of the Regional Connector’s Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill Station

New video: Regional Connector’s tunneling machine arrives at 1st/Central station

Video: Regional Connector tunneling machine lowered part by part into the launch pit

Artists selected for Regional Connector project

6 replies

  1. Hello. I have an odd question about the extraction pit under 4th/Flower. At one point during early drafts of the project, this was a proposed station site. It was cut from the project for budgetary reasons. So my question is: after the project is finished, what gets left behind at the extraction site, and could it one day be improved into a station without starting from scratch or interrupting service?

    I presume the steel pilings get left in place, and these are at the appropriate spacing for a station box. Is that correct? And a concrete subway box will need to be built at the bottom of the pit. Is there any chance that the box will be built two stories, to allow for a station concourse to be built? Will any sort of surface access or knock-out panels be left behind? Or would a future station need to re-excavate all the way down and break into the subway box?

    • Great question! I would like to know too! There really needs to be a station at 4-5th/Flower. Yes it’s sort of close to 7th, but many major cities have stations close together in their most dense places, like the Financial District.

      I used to walk from 7th to work on 5th and Fig. Not as short of a walk as it seems. And 7th Street will need relief from how busy it already is and more so after this project.

    • Well asked question! Would be great to get some information on that. Removing this station was a mistake….

  2. So are blue/expo trains going to east LA after going through the connector line, or are trains from those two lines only going to Pasadena/Azusa?

    • The Expo line (to be relabeled as the Gold line) will run from Atlantic Station in East LA to Downtown Santa Monica Station after the region connector is completed.

      The Blue line will then go beyond 7th St/Metro Center to Union Station to Claremont. By then the Gold line stations from Union Station and beyond will be the Blue line station. So it would essentially be a one seat ride from Claremont to Downtown Long Beach.

  3. So good to see the progress on this line. Can’t wait to ride *through* Downtown!

    People may not know that this project was originally proposed to run mostly at street level. Can you imagine the train rolling down 2nd Street or Temple Street, getting stuck at every light? Thank God they put it underground.

    My biggest wish is that each station would have at least two entrances. I think it’s a shame to build such a huge and expensive project, and then not have multiple entrances for each station. A good example is Bunker Hill station: it should have an entrance at 3rd/Flower. The station is made much less attractive to people at the bottom of the hill (including seniors/disabled) who are forced to walk uphill to access the train. Especially given that this station is so deep: being forced upward is kind of absurd.