Eyes on the Street: Metro Regional Connector also Closing Streets for Faster Construction

Regional Connector construction street closure on First Street at  Vignes Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Regional Connector construction street closure on First Street at Vignes Street. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

During the COVID-19 traffic lull, the city of Beverly Hills received praise for permitting a full Wilshire Boulevard closure to speed Metro construction on section two of the Westside Purple Line subway extension. In that story, SBLA noted that the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) had also permitted some lane closures to facilitate work on the third segment of that subway project. What has not received as much praise is other street closures LADOT and Metro have quietly and efficiently approved to expedite other construction.

In downtown L.A., construction is proceeding apace on Metro’s Regional Connector – a short light rail subway that will tie together Metro’s A, E, and L Lines (formerly Blue, Expo, and Gold Lines). In Little Tokyo, Regional Connector construction has now closed a plus-shaped area centered on the intersection of First Street and Alameda Street. Closures are in effect for First Street from Central Avenue to Vignes Street, as well as Alameda Street from Temple Street to Second Street (with the exception of a right turn lane allowing northbound traffic on Alameda to turn east on First). Per Metro spokesperson, Rick Jaeger, this full closure allows for weekday work instead of planned weekend closures.

First Street closed at Central Avenue - for Metro Regional Connector subway construction
First Street closed at Central Avenue – for Metro Regional Connector subway construction
Alameda Street closed at Second Street - for Regional Connector construction
Alameda Street closed at Second Street for Regional Connector construction

The Regional Connector project, anticipated to be open in 2022, has a planned two-year-long L Line partial closure. Starting this fall, the Little Tokyo Station will close, with bus-bridge service connecting L Line riders between Pico Aliso and Union Stations. Per Jaeger, at this point the bus-bridge plans remain unchanged, “as starting that work is guided by underground construction progress and is less influenced by public traffic patterns due to COVID-19.”

Lane closures remain in place in the Bunker Hill area for Regional Connector construction.

Regional Connector lane closure on Hope Street at First Street in downtown L.A.
Regional Connector lane closure on Hope Street at First Street in downtown L.A.

Though the nearly-completed Crenshaw/LAX light rail line has experienced delays and now resulting cost overruns, Metro spokesperson José Ubaldo noted that COVID-19 has allowed for some street closures to facilitate restoration of a portion of Manchester Avenue, anticipated to be completed tomorrow. Metro is planning to take advantage of decreased C (Green) Line ridership to close a portion of that line during three weekends (May 1, 15 and June 19) to complete work on tying together the C and Crenshaw tracks.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority’s Albert Ho reported that the under-construction extension from Azusa to Pomona is on schedule. Field work remains underway as teams ready the project for an early-August start to major construction.

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