Eyes on the Stations: Downtown Regional Connector Subway Construction

Metro's new Regional Connector Little Tokyo station taking shape this week. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Metro's new Regional Connector Little Tokyo station taking shape this week. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
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You may have heard: Metro is building new rail lines and extensions. Among the projects furthest along is the downtown L.A. Regional Connector subway. Earlier this week, Streetsblog biked around downtown checking out above-ground evidence of Regional Connector construction.

The Regional Connector is a $1.8 billion 1.9-mile light rail subway below downtown Los Angeles. Construction got underway in 2014, and is now 88 percent complete. If all goes well, the line will be substantially complete by mid-2022. After that it will undergo about a half-year of testing, then will open to the public. The grand opening is about a year away – likely at the very end of 2022 or early 2023.

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

The project will tie together the Metro A (Blue), E (Expo), and L (Gold) Lines. Though the project is called the Regional Connector, that name will go away. Nobody will say “take the Regional Connector to MOCA” because once all the lines are connectored, er, connected, they will just be the A and E Lines. The L Line will go away too – meaning that the Pasadena-Foothill Gold Line will become the A Line, and the Eastside Gold Line will become the E Line.

Streetsblog toured the Regional Connector project’s three new stations. From east to west they are:

  • Little Tokyo/Arts District Station – at 1st Street and Central Avenue, across from the Japanese American National Museum
  • Historic Broadway Station – at 2nd Street and Broadway, behind the historic L.A. Times building
  • Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station – located at 2nd Place and Hope Street, behind the Broad Museum

Below is Metro’s rendering of the future station in Little Tokyo.

Rendering of Little Tokyo Arts District station - via Metro
Rendering of Little Tokyo Arts District station – via Metro

This week Metro crews are working on the station’s above-ground structures.

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Crews at work on the future Little Tokyo station
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The partially built Little Tokyo station this week.
The TBM shell is on the ground awaiting assembly
The same site was a multi-story hole in the ground back in 2016, when the tunnel boring machine (TBM) was launched.

Around that station (mostly immediately north of the station) a separate interconnected project – called the Eastside Access Improvements – is also under construction. That project includes many walk and bike improvements to help facilitate first/last mile connections to the Little Tokyo station. Eastside Access’ most prominent component is a bike/walk esplanade along the east side of Alameda Street, where the trains will run underground. This includes the site of the former Little Tokyo Station. The Metro board recently approved looking into how to extend the esplanade across the 101 Freeway to connect to a similar (unfortunately watered down) esplanade soon under construction in front of Union Station. For that Alameda esplanade extension study, see further details at Metro’s staff report or Urbanize coverage.

Rendering of the planned esplanade along the east side of Alameda Street - via Metro
Rendering of the planned esplanade along the east side of Alameda Street – via Metro. Note the Regional Connector tracks – curved tracks are visible at the vanishing point in the center, through most of the tracks are in the  covered ramp behind the wall on the right.
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Above is the future esplanade site this week, the view looking north from Temple Street. Above Temple, the right of way is narrower, as the tracks (visible in the upper middle of the image – though mostly behind the wall on the right) ramp down below grade.
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Regional Connector tracks ramping downward – along Alameda Street, just north of Temple. This view is just to the right of the photo immediately above.
Looking down
Regional Connector construction looking down at Alameda Street where the tracks ramp downward under Temple Street (horizontal at middle left)

Moving west, the next Connector portal is the Historic Broadway Station.

Metro
Metro rendering of the Regional Connector Historic Broadway Station
Approaching the
Approaching the Connector’s Historic Broadway Station on 2nd Street, there is not much in the way of permanent structures visible above the surface
Regional Connector
Regional Connector Broadway station this week. In the foreground is 2nd Street; on the right is Broadway.  Sheathed in white cloth is the elevator structure; visible to its left is the escalator entrance.
Panorama view
Panorama view Regional Connector Broadway station construction (click on any of the photos to enlarge)

The third and final station is deep below Bunker Hill.

Additional rendering of xxxx
Metro rendering of Regional Connector Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station with pedestrian bridge extending to Grand Avenue, immediately south of the Broad Museum

Last year in March and June, Streetsblog posted photos of the new station bridge that will connect to Grand Avenue. That bridge looks nearly complete, and the above-ground station framework is in place.

Regional Connector Bunker Hill station under construction this week
Regional Connector Bunker Hill station under construction this week – view looking north on Hope Street
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Regional Connector Bunker Hill Station – from 2nd Street
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Regional Connector pedestrian bridge to Grand Avenue nearing completion. Broad Museum is on the left; station is on the right.
Metro's rendering of the planned Regional Connector pedestrian bridge over Hope Street. Image via Metro staff report
Metro rendering of Regional Connector pedestrian bridge over Hope Street

Lastly, below are two photos of Regional Connector construction wrapping up on Flower Street, where the connection to the 7th Street Station was built using the cut-and-cover method.

View of current Regional Connector construction along on Flower Street
View of current Regional Connector construction along on Flower Street. Though one lane is still blocked off, the tunnel below the street is done, and the street has been restored
Regional Connector construction wrapping up on Flower Street
Regional Connector construction will be wrapping up soon on Flower Street

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