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Businesses Ask Judge to Stop Work on Downtown Light Rail

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Poor Metro: the transit agency is trying to build a cohesive transit system but anyone who doesn't get his way lobs a lawsuit at them. The latest plaintiffs are Downtown landlords who believe construction on the underground Regional Connector--a 1.9-mile tunnel connecting the Blue, Expo, and Gold lines that will eliminate transfers and add three DTLA stations--will put them out of business. Metro and the Financial District power players that operate on Flower Street initially tried to meet in the middle, but the Downtown News reports that didn't quite work and now a lawsuit's been launched. Metro is going ahead with preliminary work, but the business owners asked a judge in late July to halt all construction. The business owners, led by Thomas Properties Group, want Metro to use a boring machine throughout the project, instead of the tunneling method known as cut-and-cover (the latter requires workers to excavate a tunnel and throw a temporary roof over it, while a boring machine keeps the surface intact). Employing a boring machine for the entire tunnel would be too costly and unsafe, claims Metro, and TPG (geologists that they are) says Metro is wrong. The companies also say the construction will kill property values (even though a Flower Street station got axed from the final plans, won't the line still increase property values after it opens?). The Westin Bonaventure hotel claims they'll have to lay off 500 people if Metro builds the line as planned.

Metro's plan "calls for tearing up the surface of the street to dig a trench as deep as 70 feet before partially covering it with new concrete decking. That will rise up to two feet above street level, which TPG officials say will slow traffic across Flower Street via Fifth and Sixth streets. They point to the construction in the 1990s of the Red Line -- the project was widely considered to be a drain on commerce, especially in Hollywood, and a nightmare for traffic."

During the two to four years of construction, six lanes on Flower will be reduced to four, and partial pedestrian detours will be required. The hearing on potential work stoppage won't happen until September 14, so Metro will likely try to squeeze a lot of work in this month.
· Businesses Step Up Fight Against Regional Connector [DN]
· How Legal Challenges Are Affecting Work on 4 LA Rail Lines [Curbed LA]