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Metro's Awesome Defense Against Regional Connector Lawsuits

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As with any public transit project in Southern California, the 1.9-mile Regional Connector light rail tunnel is currently buried in lawsuits. It's being sued by three different DTLA property owners who object to Metro's tunneling and construction methods and argue the agency didn't satisfy the California Environmental Quality Act with their environmental impact report on the project. The RC will connect the Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines and allow people to travel from Santa Monica to East LA and Long Beach to Pasadena without transfers; it'll also add three new subway stations in Downtown. Metro goes to court tomorrow to defend itself against the suits and they have a pretty good defense (other than that it's pretty environmentally-friendly to take tens of thousands of cars off the road): they didn't even have to do an EIR for the RC. The agency says they went above and beyond by conducting an EIR because the "California Legislature included a provision within CEQA that exempts projects such as the Regional Connector from the requirements of CEQA."

According to the legislature, CEQA doesn't apply to "[f]acility extensions not to exceed four miles in length which are required for the transfer of passengers from or to exclusive public mass transit guideway or busway public transit services." That sounds exactly like the RC.

Metro's statement about the RC legal challenges goes out of its way to say the EIR resulted in mucho feedback from locals, which helped refine the project. But regardless, Metro says defending the lawsuits will cost the transpo agency--and taxpayers--lots of money, so toss 'em out. We'll see if the judge agrees.
· Metro Responds to Regional Connector Legal Challenges [The Source]
· Regional Connector Archives [Curbed LA]