Little Tokyo underground station option added to DEIR

Two Metro Board of Director committees voted on Thursday to add the study of an underground station in Little Tokyo to the draft environmental impact report for the regional downtown connector project.

To be clear: this doesn’t mean it’s getting built. Just that it will be studied.

The issue in a nutshell: Earlier plans for the connector called for it to cross Alameda Street at street level with Alameda being reworked to cross the tracks in a new underpass. That met a lot of community opposition in Little Tokyo, so Metro planners went back to the drawing board and came up with a way for the tracks to go underground on the east side of Alameda.

This means that the environmental study will consider a regional connector that would travel underground between 1st and Alameda and Metro Center at 7th and Figueroa. The study will also consider a street-level version of the connector. A decision on what will get built will come later in the process and ultimately be up to the Metro Board of Directors.

The cost of an underground station at Little Tokyo and moving the tunnel entrance east of Alameda is estimated to be $200 million. At the Board’s Planning Committee, Metro CEO Art Leahy encouraged staffers to try to find cost savings in the project to help pay for that station should it be the one to get built.

The full Board of Directors will consider adding the underground station to the DEIR at its meeting next Thursday. The Board often follows the lead of committees.