Metro Plans Nearly Two-Year-Long Little Tokyo Gold Line Bus Bridge For Regional Connector Construction

Metro also weighing how Connector operations will tie Gold, A, and E Lines

Little Tokyo Regional Connector construction components - via Metro presentation
Little Tokyo Regional Connector construction components - via Metro presentation

At today’s Metro board Construction Committee, agency staff presented on Regional Connector construction. As construction nears completion, Metro will demolish the existing Little Tokyo/Arts District Gold Line Station to make way for a new underground station. For this construction Metro will close a portion of the Gold Line, running a 22-month bus bridge, expected to start later this year.

The Regional Connector is a $1.8 million 1.9-mile light rail subway currently under construction in downtown Los Angeles. Construction is 61 percent complete, with a current targeted opening date of Summer/Fall 2022. The connector ties together the Metro Gold, A and E Lines (formerly Blue and Expo.)

Regional Connector map - image via Metro
2013 Regional Connector map – image via Metro

Early on, the Regional Connector faced some difficulties in tunneling below some of the oldest streets in the region, resulting in a nine percent cost overrun and a 2020 anticipated opening date being pushed back. After these early hiccups, the project has been humming along well, completing tunnel-boring and proceeding with station construction.

During the final nearly-two years of Regional Connector construction, Metro will demolish the existing surface Little Tokyo Gold Line Station to make way for a future shared underground station.

Regional Connector will demolish the existing Little Tokyo Gold Line Station replacing it with a new underground station a block away. Image via Metro presentation
Regional Connector will demolish the existing Little Tokyo Gold Line Station replacing it with a new underground station a block away. Image via Metro presentation

The Regional Connector project will sever the current tie between the Pasadena/Foothill Gold Line and the Eastside Gold Line making these two independent lines.

As the existing Little Tokyo station is demolished, Metro will embark on extensive construction in the wye area – tying the Gold Line into the Regional Connector (see graphic at top of post.) Construction will be followed by system testing and training for the Connector to open.

During the final two years, the Gold Line stretch from Union Station to Pico/Aliso – about 1.2 miles – will be closed. Metro will operate substitute bus bridge service there. The bus bridge is expected to be in effect for twenty-two months – from late 2020 through the Regional Connector opening in 2022.

Timeline for Regional Connector construction - via Metro presentation
Timeline for Regional Connector construction – via Metro presentation

Metro is also developing operations plans for the Regional Connector. There are a few options to tie together the two Gold Lines (Eastside and Pasadena/Foothill) with the A and E Lines. In the past (including the 2013 map above) Metro had planned to tie north-south and east-west lines. From Long Beach the A (Blue) Line would continue more-or-less north via Pasadena to Azusa. From Santa Monica, the E (Expo) Line would continue more-or-less east to East L.A.

But this is not set in stone.

Metro is also considering the other combination: tying Long Beach to East L.A., and Santa Monica to Azusa. Or even some version where every other train might go through to a different end point. Metro is currently evaluating these scenarios, with plans to finalize operations by June 2020.

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