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.