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Comments Clear on Connector Route Alternatives: Go Underground

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008, at 10:33PM
Regional Connection 2 Ed Fuentes

Staff presents possible alignments for Metro's proposed Regional Connector.

Of the eight "Build Alternatives" presented at tonight's public meeting on the proposed Regional Connector, five would run trains through Downtown on surface streets, with all but one of those removing auto traffic from 2nd street and converting it to "transit dedication." After the presentation, the message delivered by stakeholders was clear: at-grade alignments through Downtown are simply not feasible or acceptable.

The street-running span on 2nd brought concern from a varied group of stakeholders. Issues raised included the effect on Little Tokyo events that currently use the street, the ability of LAFD to navigate a single narrow lane left for vehicle traffic, the effect of trains on north-south traffic, and whether such an option would provide the capacity needed. After the meeting several current and former City staffers expressed shock that Metro could even think of building and running such a system.

There were two all-underground alternatives in Metro's presentation, differing only in specifics around the connection to the Gold Line eastside extension. The presenters stressed that the connection to the currently under-construction Arts District / Little Tokyo station from any subway alignment would be problematic, suggesting even that the station would have to be eliminated should such an option be chosen.

A hybrid option would run entirely subway until just beyond Central Avenue, taking out the parking lot for Office Depot to emerge to the surface before crossing Alameda and 1st at-grade and connecting to the existing station. The presentation suggested that an underpass be built for Alameda street, taking through traffic below the surface crossing. Such a plan would still leave the tracks exposed to auto interaction from 1st street.

Downtowners wishing to get their voice heard have one more opportunity to do so in this round of meetings. Metro holds its second meeting Thursday at noon, at the Central Library (630 W. 5th street).

In the interest of disclosure, I was quoted in the paper on Monday saying that a surface alignment would be a "pox" on Downtown. I said much the same in comment tonight, saying that this project was important enough to take the time to do correctly.

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