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Regional Connector's Impact on Downtown Streets Detailed

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, January 09, 2009, at 10:01AM
Regional Connector Render: 2nd Street Looking West Metro

2nd street depicted with an underground Regional Connector, shown looking west from Los Angeles.

Two build options for the Regional Connector are headed to Metro's Planning and Programming committee, a step necessary to approve engineering funds allowing the project to move forward. The report presents one alternative that is largely at-grade and one that's mostly underground.

While the two options are the same as previous presentations, the document paints a more detailed picture of the negative impacts the at-grade approach would have on Downtown's streetscape. Lost traffic lanes and restricted turns would reduce service levels at multiple intersections to the lowest grades, and up to 88 parking spaces would be removed along the route.

Both options would connect the 7th / Metro Blue Line station to the Little Tokyo / Arts District Gold Line station.

The at-grade approach has two variations. Both travel up Flower street before cutting into the 2nd street tunnel. One would come above ground on Flower before entering the tunnel, while the other would stay underground until it is inside. Both would exit heading east on 2nd street, before splitting to turn up Main and Los Angeles streets. The directions would rejoin on Temple, connecting to the Gold Line just north of the Little Tokyo station. 2nd street would become a transit mall, closed to through traffic.

The underground option would travel north on Flower, turn east under 2nd street and then pass into Little Tokyo. Controversially, it would emerge from the ground on the lot currently occupied by Office Depot at 1st & Alameda. It would then cross that intersection at-grade to connect to the Little Tokyo station.

The above-ground alternatives are priced at $709 and $795 million, while the underground alternative is given a $910 million price tag.

The above-ground alternatives would present the most severe traffic impacts in the Civic Center. Metro projects that seven intersections would be left with an E grade, and six with a grade of F. By contrast, the underground option would result in three E grades and 1 grade F, all of which would exist if the line was not built.

One interesting aspect of the report is just how out of touch the demographic is with Downtown's reality. The analysis cites only 2000 census data, leaving gems like this:

Year 2000 census data for both alignments reveals that about 80% of the population belongs to a minority group, the median annual household income is approximately $15,000-$19,000, 35% live below the poverty threshold, and about 24% are unemployed.

The next census will be a very important one for officially changing the definition of Downtown.

After the Planning & Programming committee, the Connector AA would head to the full board, likely on the 22nd. Along with approving the AA report, Wednesday's item authorizes roughly $11 million in engineering and outreach work.

Interesting in talking about transit? Southern California Transit Advocates will be meeting on Saturday at Angelus Plaza. The 1pm event will feature guest speaker Alan Mittelstaedt, former News Editor at the LA Weekly. Mittelstaedt will share his observations from his years of covering local government, including the politics of transportation. The event is free and open to the public. More information on the group's website.


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