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Regional Connector Caught in the Middle of Political Fight Over Metro's Long-Range Plan

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 07:25PM
Regional Connector Render: 2nd Street Looking West Metro

An early rendering of how a Regional Connector station might look under 2nd street.

Metro's board meetings are often political affairs, but seldom to the battle lines get drawn up quite as strongly as they have been for Thursday's session.

The transit agency board is set to vote on its overdue Long-Range Transportation Plan, and a fight over priorities pits Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his subway to the sea against San Gabriel Valley interests pushing for a quicker build-out for the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

Caught in the middle is the Regional Connector, which last month was attached to the subway project for federal funding purposes.

The Foothill Extension has long had a strong and well-organized group of supporters. Their voices got added weight this week when a group of 14 congressmen sent a letter to the Metro board chiding it for focusing its federal funding efforts on the subway. They asked that equal footing be given to other projects, including the San Gabriel Valley project.

Villaraigosa's office took to the Huffington Post today to urge Angelenos to support the plan as it is written, including an email link for readers to send their thoughts straight to the Metro board.

The Mayor's office, which was surprised by the letter, considers the questions of the Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Federal New Starts application to be separate issues. It is concerned that the funding question will lead board members to derail the larger document at tomorrow's meeting.

Those interested in adding in their voice on the issue can attend the board meeting at Metro's headquarters adjacent to Union Station. The 9:30am meeting will undoubtedly attract a full house.


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