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Downtown's Regional Connector Line Greenlit With Little Drama

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The Purple Line subway project had everyone's attention today, but another underground train line was up for approval at today's Metro board meeting too--and it got the full thumbs up, The Source reports. The 1.9 mile long Regional Connector line that will connect the Expo, Blue, and Gold Lines--effectively turning the three lines into two and allowing people to train travel across the County without transfers--was approved and will move toward a groundbreaking next year. There were a few hiccups along the way for this project, including last minute interference from philanthropist Eli Broad (which went away almost as quickly as it appeared) and an uproar from Financial District power players over construction disruptions. Metro delayed approval of the RC last month to smooth over things with the Downtown stakeholders and things now seem mostly copacetic.

Previously, the private California Club, real estate groups Thomas Properties Group and Hines, and the Westin Bonaventure hotel obliquely threatened a lawsuit over the "cut-and-cover" method of subway digging proposed for Flower Street, seeing it as disruptive. Now Metro only plans to "cut-and-cover" for one block, between Fourth and Fifth on Flower, and use deep-bore tunnels for the rest of the project. Still, an attorney from the Bonaventure raised objections at today's board meeting.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog reports that Little Tokyo stakeholders appear happy with the plan, which was modified to ease construction impacts on the neighborhood. "Little Tokyo immediately recognized the impact of the Regional Connector to our community," Chris Aihara of Little Tokyo said, according to Streetsblog, before thanking Metro for working with the community.

Little Tokyo will get a new underground Metro station--their current one is aboveground--with the RC. Other new stations will be at First/Central, Second/Broadway, and Second/Hope, with an option to build a station in the future at Fifth/Flower.

Metro will continue to work with Flower Street hotels and banks to fine-tune modifications before entering into the final design stages. The $1.37 billion project should break ground next year and, when complete, allow people to travel from Santa Monica to East LA and Long Beach to Azusa without transferring trains, cut down on travel times, and encourage tens of thousands of new riders. Community meetings on the new stations kick off in June.
· Metro Board certifies final environmental study for Regional Connector [The Source]
· Only 70 Speakers? Regional Connector Enviro. Docs Approved by Metro [Streetsblog]
· Regional Connector Archives [Curbed LA]