Metro Starts Construction on Little Tokyo/Arts District Eastside Access Improvements
Metro held an event this morning to commemorate the start of construction of its Eastside Access Improvements project, designed to improve conditions for walking and bicycling in the downtown Los Angeles neighborhoods of Little Tokyo and the Arts District. The $29.7 million project is designed to make it easier for people to access the new Metro Regional Connector subway, which is under construction and expected to open to the public in mid-2022.
Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins praised the first/last mile improvements as providing “options for a healthier lifestyle” for residents and visitors. She noted that the project represents Metro “keeping promises to the community,” emphasizing that Metro is not just restoring what was there before Regional Connector construction started in 2014, but demonstrating a commitment to “make it better.” The Regional Connector will provide the Little Tokyo community with greatly improved rail mobility, but leaders have expressed frustration with the eight years of construction that they are putting up with.
Metro Board Chair Hilda Solis emphasized that the Eastside Access and Regional Connector projects will serve the surrounding community, where, she stated, more than half of households are below the poverty line, and more than half of residents do not own a car.
The Eastside Access Improvements project includes numerous features designed to enhance walking and bicycling:
- crosswalk improvements at 23 intersections
- new walk and bike esplanade along the east side of Alameda Street – where the former Little Tokyo Gold Line station was located
- new bike lanes – on First Street, Los Angeles Street, Center Street, and Santa Fe Avenue
- various additional features: lighting, sidewalk repair/widening, tree planting, wayfinding, etc.
The Alameda Esplanade (pictured at top) construction will be part of Regional Connector street restoration. The remainder of the Eastside Access Improvements project components will be built separately. Construction is anticipated to take 200-250 days, and be completed by Summer 2022 in time for the opening of the Regional Connector subway.