The Metro Regional Connector team held an open house last night in Little Tokyo to discuss the crucial Measure R project now that it has reached an important milestone: the release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (which you can find in its entirety here).
As regular readers will recall, the Regional Connector is a proposed 1.9-mile underground light-rail line in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the Expo and Blue Lines to the Gold Line. The Connector will allow one-seat transfer-free rides from Pasadena to Long Beach and Santa Monica to East L.A.
Three new subway stations — at Bunker Hill, Broadway and Little Tokyo/Arts District — will also make it considerably easier to travel between the north-south and east-west lines that will be formed by the Connector. Many riders will see their trips through the system shortened by as much as 30 percent as a result, the reason the line has “Regional” in its title. It will benefit many commuters across L.A. County. (Here’s a post from last month explaining many of the project benefits).
Project Manager Dolores Roybal Saltarelli noted during a presentation that the “locally preferred” alignment recommended by Metro staff grew out of discussions with the community over the last few years. In particular, Metro planners, the city of Los Angeles and downtown community members honed in on the fully-underground alternative in response to strong local support.
Looking ahead, this spring is chock full of important dates for the project. The Metro Board of Directors Planning and Programming Committee will review the FEIS/R next Wednesday, Feb. 15, and the full Board of Directors will then vote on whether to certify the FEIS/R and approve a package of mitigation measures — various procedures for reducing the impacts of construction — at its monthly meeting
on February 23rd in March [post updated Feb. 22, 2012].
If the Board approves the FEIS/R, Metro staff will then work with the Federal Transit Administration to obtain a “record of decision,” which would allow Metro to proceed with relocating underground utility lines and acquiring the property it will need to stage construction activities. Following that, Metro will apply for a “full funding agreement” from the FTA — a commitment of ongoing financial support for the project from the federal New Starts program that helps fund large transit projects.
If all goes smoothly, the Regional Connector team should finish preliminary engineering and begin final design in the fall, which would allow construction on the line to begin in 2013. The line is scheduled to open in 2019.
The presentation and poster board displays from last night are embedded below: