Originally printed in The Rafu Shimpo on Feb. 25, 2012.
The Metro Board of Directors delayed a vote on the Regional Connector Final EIR/EIS that was to have taken place on Thursday. The item was scheduled to be considered, but Metro CEO Art Leahy has decided to push the item back one month in order to have more time to discuss construction techniques and impacts with the business community along Flower Street in downtown Los Angeles.
During the Planning and Programming meeting held on Feb. 15, several attorneys representing business interests along Flower Street, including the Westin Bonaventure and Citigroup Center Tower, in the Financial District expressed opposition to Metro’s plans to cut-and-cover to dig tunnels under Flower. Owners of the Japanese Village Plaza also asked that the vote on the final EIS/EIR be postponed.
The transit project, which has been the focus of considerable discussion in Little Tokyo, proposes an approximately two-mile underground rail system with First and Alameda streets as a juncture. The Regional Connector will connect the Gold, Blue, and Expo rail lines allowing for continuous train operations between Long Beach and Montclair and from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Santa Monica without the need to transfer.
Metro staff released the final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) on Jan. 20 for a 30-day public review period and was to vote on the report on Thursday. Once the final EIS/EIR is approved, Metro will move to preliminary engineering and beginning of station design. Construction could begin by 2014 with a target of 2019 for completion.
The full report can be downloaded at www.metro.net/projects/connector/connector-final-eiseir/.