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Another Chance to Talk Downtown Connector

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2007, at 12:06PM

Connector Route Drawing by James Okazaki Tonight Downtowners get another chance to talk about Metro's proposed Regional Connector. Metro will be attending tonight's DLANC Board meeting to give a special presentation, scheduled for 7:15pm at the Palace Theater on Broadway.

Though they were devoid of Q&A, last week's scoping meetings did turn out a variety of interesting public comment. MetroRiderLA posted this recap of the Wednesday session, and Ed and I stopped by the Thursday affair. I was most intrigued by the comments of former LADOT Assistant GM James Okazaki, who made a strong case for why the Connector should hit the Eastside Gold Line north of the Little Tokyo station rather than south of it.

Pictured, Connector routing as art: discussion sketch by former LADOT Assistant GM James Okazaki

The Downtown Connector is intended to tie Metro's light rail system together. It will connect four different rail lines, and potentially a fifth if Metro eventually builds its proposed Crenshaw route. In his public comment James noted that the 1-mile Connector represents a huge potential kink in the system. Any downtime on this stretch of track has the potential to take down every light rail line. As such, he was very firm in his insistence that the routing must be entirely grade separated (have no at-grade interaction with roadways).

Every couple months the Blue Line hits a car, usually after some driver decides that they're going to try and beat the train. The system ends up shut down for a couple hours while the wreckage gets sorted out and investigated. When such a disruption happens on one line it's annoying, when a similar accident takes out four or five lines it's a disaster.

A grade separated route and connecting to the Eastside Gold Line south of the Little Tokyo station are mutually exclusive ideas. The Little Tokyo station sits at-grade, and immediately butts onto 1st street at the south end of the station. James made the case that the Connector should hook up to the Gold Line above-grade, tying directly into the elevated structure before it turns and begins its descent. The line would then likely need to head west on Aliso street before figuring out how to dive underground to connect to Bunker Hill and its eventually termination at 7th/Metro.

It's an expensive option, compared to any sort of surface alignment, but the reasoning behind it is highly sound. This is the band that links the entire region together. It makes sense to spend whatever money is necessary here to do it right.


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