Metro has made some new refinements to the proposed alignment for the Regional Connector project through Little Tokyo. The aim is to bring down costs and lessen construction impacts in the area.
The proposed change would essentially eliminate the sharp curves the light rail alignment was going to use to meet up with the Metro Gold Line at 1st and Alameda. Metro staff will brief the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District on Thursday. On Wednesday, Metro presented the changes to the Little Tokyo Community Council Transit Committee in order to receive feedback.
Metro’s project team says the refined route would avoid a storm drain on 2nd Street, avoid the Office Depot property and most of the businesses businesses facing Central Avenue. The refinements would also mean the elimination of having cut and cover construction along 2nd Street within the Little Tokyo community. These were key concerns raised by the Little Tokyo stakeholders during the draft environmental study process.
So far, Little Tokyo stakeholders have given the proposed changes a warm reception. The agency will still have to do cut and cover around the station box, but that work will be confined to the north side of the Office Depot block, adjacent to 1st Street and Central Avenue.
Metro project planners say the refinement would bring down the project cost. During this phase of the project, the team is looking to “value engineer” the project (i.e., evaluate engineering methods that lower construction costs) as much as possible to keep the project within budget.
The project team plans to follow up these meetings with a station design workshop where planners will start designing key Little Tokyo station elements, including station entrances and design features.
The next community update meetings are planned in late February/early March, when Metro will show additional progress on engineering.