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Linking the Lines: Metro Approves DTLA Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project

The Regional Connector (Map via Metro)
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With the opening of the Expo Line, thousands of Angelenos and visitors to the area now have another way of getting from Point A to Point B. But in Downtown, where many of the city's light rail and subway lines have terminal points, not all the lines intersect. To make getting from one line to another easier, Metro has just approved plans for a connecting line.

Thursday, in addition to approving a similar document for the Westside Subway extension, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors certified the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) for the $1.37 billion Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project.

The specific plan approved by the Board was Metro’s Locally Preferred Alternative, a 1.9-mile fully underground light rail line that includes three new stations at 1st/Central, 2nd/Broadway, and 2nd/Hope, according to Metro in a news release issued Thursday.

Metro explains the scope of the project on their site:

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The Regional Connector will connect the Metro Gold Line, Blue Line and Expo Line enabling passengers to travel from Montclair to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica as a "one seat ride". By providing continuous through service between these lines, the Regional Connector will improve access to both local and regional destinations - and greatly improve the connectivity of the transportation network for the region.

As part of yesterday's approval, Metro also signed off on two additional aspects of the project:

- Relocating the Little Tokyo/Arts District underground station to minimize property required and eliminate the cut-and-cover segment on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo originally required for construction. - Launching a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) from the northeast corner of 1st and Alameda Streets, the mangrove property formerly known as the Nikkei development, instead of 2nd Street.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also happens to be the Metro Board Chair, calls Thursday's approval of the Regional Connector "a major milestone" on Metro's part in creating more mobility options through the use of Measure R funds. Those funds, generated by sales tax revenue, will partially pay for the Regional Connector.

And the rest of the money? Metro explains:

The remainder of funding is identified through a combination of state funding sources that include proceeds from the California High-Speed Rail Bond, additional local funds and a 50 percent requested match from the federal New Starts program. The project was included in the Obama Administration’s proposed FY13 Budget to initially receive $31 million. The funding proposed requires Congressional approval.

Up next for the project: Seeing to it the project fits in Metro's budget, station design meetings, and the creation of a Construction Community Relations Program. But, hey! Construction could begin in 2013, says Metro.

Adds Villaraigosa: "[The Regional Connector's] construction will quicken transit travel times, provide more reliable service, create thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars of economic benefits to our county."