Fresh pics: Regional Connector spring update

Significant progress has been made on the Regional Connector Transit Project since the beginning of this year. From Little Tokyo to the Financial District, crews have been busy mining tunnels and excavating, relocating utilities and more. The project to connect the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines is about 47 percent complete and is scheduled to be done in late 2021.

Below is your spring update, along with a slew of new photos on all things Regional Connector:

“Cut-and-cover” activities in the Financial District and building 1st Street portal

Tunneling is now complete but crews are still working on building the Flower Street tunnel box, which will connect the two new tunnels to the Blue and Expo Line tracks at the existing 7th St/Metro Center Station.

To build the tunnel box, a method known as “cut-and-cover” replaces the road with temporary concrete panels, permitting vehicular traffic to flow as usual while crews build the tunnel below. The final portion of cut-and-cover work at the intersection of 6th and Flower is scheduled to take place this summer.

In Little Tokyo, crews will also start excavating the 1st Street portal in April. This portion of the alignment will be where trains to/from East Los Angeles will enter and exit the new tunnel.

Station excavation and construction

More excavation at the future Little Tokyo/Arts District and Historic Broadway station is planned to continue through this year. Excavation is about 50 percent complete at the Historic Broadway Station and concrete pours to form portions of the foundation and walls will start soon. At the Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill Station more of the station’s finished work will be installed with regular concrete pours taking place over the course of the next year-and-a-half.

Utility relocation continues

Beneath the city streets you walk and drive on everyday exists a dense network of utility lines that construction crews must protect in place or relocate to build the new rail tunnels — all while maintaining service to residents and local businesses! These utilities include water, electrical, telephone, fiber optic, sewer and storm drains, natural gas lines and more. City plans help identify the location of many lines but these blueprints don’t tell the whole story.

Often, there are abandoned lines and the condition of known and discovered utilities can vary greatly. Much of these efforts were finished in anticipation of the project, yet some unforeseen utility relocation at the 6th St/Flower St intersection is scheduled through 2018. This work must be complete before further excavation can continue and the connection to the 7th St/Metro Center Station is made.

Tunnel boring machine retired

Angeli, the tunnel boring machine (TBM), re-emerged from its subterranean journey at the 4th St/Flower St intersection in downtown Los Angeles in January after digging the second of two tunnels. Shortly thereafter, crews disassembled the TBM and extracted it piece by piece, using a heavy-duty gantry crane to lift the machine out of the ground.

With tunnel mining finished, crews are now working on building three cross passages used for maintenance and emergencies between Little Tokyo and Bunker Hill. Additionally, crews have just started building the crossover cavern east of Spring Street which will allow trains to switch tracks.

14 replies

  1. Any relics found where the tunneling crossed the old route of the Pacific Electric subway?
    TIA, Mike

    • Hi Mike:

      Not that I’ve heard. I’m guessing the Connector may have crossed at a different depth and that the old streetcar tunnels were pretty shallow. I bet a regular Source reader may know.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Appreciate the pix.

    Noted from Google Maps at 34.049297, -118.237162 the portal for the Old Gold Line / New A Train. Curious as to the path to Union Station and where it will rejoin existing track.

    • Hi Charlie —

      Same as the existing route between Little Tokyo and Union Station except there will be portal parallel to Alameda Street where trains to/from Union Station will exit/enter the new tunnel.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • My understanding from the FEIR: heading northward, the new tracks will rise to grade level, and then above-grade, but not until *north* of Temple Street. In other words, the tracks will pass *under* Temple Street. Therefore, part of the ramp along Alameda will need to be demolished and rebuilt. The tie-in will be somewhere near Alameda/Ducommun. (Someone correct me if this has changed.)

      • Hopefully it hasn’t changed because that would mean that trains have to still cross temple at grade with no crossing gates and that is often a point where trains stop at lights currently which is totally ridiculous. I believe the new cross-under is part of the design so as to avoid this problem of literally being at grade (street running mode) just to cross one intersection before resuming railway mode again. Plus having this new grade separation at temple will be one less potential accident point and that’s always a good thing.

  3. As the Flower Street cut and cover is built, any hope of building knock out panels for a station at 5th/Flower for a future station since it now looks like the West Santa Branch could come to Pershing Square and what would have been good, to continue to a station at 5th/Flower and then continue west under the Harbor Freeway and up to Echo Park or Silver Lake etc.

    • According to the latest renderings, the WSAB core option would terminate at approximately 8th and Hope with a passageway to 7th/Metro.

  4. Hi,

    What happens to the TBM after it is retired? Could it potentially be used again for tunneling on the West Santa Ana branch?


    • Hi Andrew;

      Probably not. Each project usually gets their own TBMs, which to some degree are unique because of geology and project demands.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • My understanding is that TBMs are often re-used on other projects, although they require significant modifications to meet the needs of the next project (e.g. different tunnel diameter). I don’t think the entire machine is simply scrapped after one project.