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Regional Connector Debate Hits Little Tokyo

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, August 14, 2009, at 11:13AM
Conceptual Design for 1st & Alameda Metro

Still looking eastbound on 1st street from a video showing a proposed conceptual design for 1st and Alameda, the intersection where trains, traffic and pedestrians would intersect.

Metro's Regional Connector project has gained significant traction since scoping meetings kicked off in late 2007, but the planning process seems to have run into its first serious community opposition in Little Tokyo.

The project will connect the transit operator's light rail lines by building a link between the Blue Line at 7th / Metro and the Gold Line's Little Tokyo / Arts District station. At a meeting last week, vocal community members expressed their desire for that link to steer clear of their neighborhood.

Metro is currently considering two major options for the line, one that runs primarily above-ground and one that is primarily underground. The surface route would veer north by City Hall, connecting to the Gold Line at Temple street.

The underground option would travel under 2nd street, surfacing on the block that houses Office Depot before crossing the intersection of 1st and Alameda at grade.

Concerns in Little Tokyo focus on construction impacts and the way in which easier accessibility might change the character of the historic neighborhood.

Little Tokyo UnBlogged and Rafu Shimpo provide coverage that includes quotes and opinions from community members at the meeting.

Rafu Shimpo: J-Town Airs Regional Connector Concerns

“It’s quite devastating what could happen over four years (of the construction),” said Akemi Kikumura Yano, CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, which hosted the event.

“Possible massive disruption, in terms of access, not only to the Japanese American National Museum, but to Little Tokyo in general, I think that is a major concern for us… How are we going to survive?” she said, during the Q&A portion of the meeting.

Little Tokyo UnBlogged: Metro Regional DisConnect

And here we are today, being asked to take yet another “one for the team,” so some hypothetical riders in the future can travel from Long Beach to Pasadena and not have to pay a transfer fare of $1.25 or have to transfer from one train to another--something millions of people do in public transit-oriented cities throughout the world every day. Or, as someone at the meeting pointed out, is Little Tokyo being asked to sacrifice in order to “fix” a gap in Metro’s original vision of “seamless travel “ that ineptitude or lack of foresight created?

Little Tokyo UnBlogged: MTA Regional Connector Meeting (8/5)

After the presentation the floor was opened up to for the community to raise their voice for questions, comments and concerns. This part of the meeting got very intense, many community members raised tough questions and serious concerns, about the impact of a regional connector on Little Tokyo. Metro staff took notes and recorded the feedback from the community.

At the meeting, Metro also unveiled a 3D rendering of the way it proposes to handle the intersection of traffic, trains and pedestrians at 1st and Alameda should the underground option be chosen.


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