Feds Give Important Green Light to Regional Connector

Metro got the green light to proceed with design work on the Regional Connector. Above is a station entrance concept. 

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Federal Transit Administration last week certified the proposed $1.37 billion Regional Connector, clearing the way for Metro to proceed with planning and fundraising work.

Metro can now initiate final designs and start negotiations with the FTA to secure matching funds from the federal government. Metro estimates that construction of the 1.9-mile tunnel and three new stations could begin in August 2013. The project could open in 2019 at the soonest.

Next month Metro aims to begin a round of public meetings on station design and the process for community input. The Regional Connector will add underground light-rail stations at Second and Hope streets, Second Street and Broadway, and First Street and Central Avenue (replacing the existing Gold Line station at First and Alameda streets).

One potential hitch is a looming legal challenge from property owners, including Thomas Properties Group, who charge that construction on Flower Street will unfairly burden businesses along the Financial District corridor. Metro has pledged to use value engineering to reduce construction impacts, as much as possible, without increasing the project budget.

©Los Angeles Downtown News.