Metro kept to their deadlines and released both environmental impact reports for the Regional Connector project and the Westside subway extension by putting them out before the end of summer (just under the wire). More on the subway soon. The Regional Connector is a two-mile link which "would include several new stations downtown and would allow continuous train operations between Long Beach and Azusa and from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Santa Monica without the need to transfer," according to the EIR. Metro looked at four options--building nothing, connecting trains with at-grade stations downtown, connecting trains with a mostly underground route downtown, and finally, doing the whole darn thing underground (image is of a typical underground station). They chose the last option, supported by downtown locals, as their recommendation. Metro is planning to use a mix of local, state, and federal funds to pay for the $1.24 billion project, with the bulk of the funding from Measure R.
Here's how the EIR describes their recommended fully-underground alternative:
"The alignment would extend underground from the 7th Street/Metro Center Station Under Flower Street and 2nd Street to Central Avenue in the same manner as the Underground Emphasis LRT Alternative. At 2nd Street and Central Avenue, the tracks would continue underground heading northeast under 1st and Alameda Streets.
An underground junction would be constructed beneath the intersection of 1st Street and Alameda Street. To the north and east of the junction, trains would rise to the surface through two new portals to connect to the Metro Gold Line heading north to Azusa and east towards 1-605."
Four new stations would be constructed--at Flower/5th, 2nd/Hope, 2nd/Broadway, and it looks like the current Gold Line station in Little Tokyo would be placed underground at 2nd and Central so trains wouldn't need to cross 1st and Alameda at-grade.
Next up is a 45-day comment period, followed by the Metro board likely adopting the EIR's plan. Then there's a final EIR, released next summer. A formal decision from Metro will come about a year from now and federal approval in fall 2011--then engineering and construction in 2012, or likely 2013. Opening is scheduled for 2019, but could speed up with 30/10.