The Los Angeles Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile rail alignment that includes a tunnel that will link three light rail transit lines and the city’s heavy rail subway when it is completed in 2021.
Digging for the first half of the 1.1-mile tunnel concluded on July 19, 2017 when the tunnel boring machine (TBM) – known as “Angeli” – broke through to a reception pit at 4th and South Flower streets in the city’s downtown. Angeli was taken back to the original starting point at 1st Street and Alameda in Little Tokyo to continue digging a parallel tunnel, which is expected to be completed by early 2018.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $1.75 billion Regional Connector project will extend from the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station of the Gold line light rail to the 7th Street/Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles, allowing passengers to bypass Union Station and transfer to the Blue, Expo, Red and Purple lines. When completed, passengers will be able to travel from Azusa to Long Beach, or from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica, without transferring trains.
WSP USA has worked on the Regional Connector project since 2008, providing planning, environmental and engineering services, as well as construction engineering support. WSP will continue to provide design support services as the project works toward revenue operations, scheduled to begin by December 2021.
Stakeholders that will benefit from this extension include several major Los Angeles cultural institutions, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Colburn School of Music and The Broad art museum.
The project includes the creation of three new stations – Little Tokyo/Arts District Station at 1st Street and Central Avenue, Historic Broadway Station at 2nd Street and Broadway, and Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station at 2nd Street and Hope Street.
The Regional Connector tunnel includes some “firsts” for Los Angeles. It is the first cavern excavated in weak rock in Los Angeles for a rail crossover that will be constructed using the sequential excavation method of tunneling.
It will also be the first time that Los Angeles transit will use high-speed elevators instead of escalators. Located approximately 100 feet below the surface, the station at 2nd Street and Hope Street will have six high-speed elevators with the hoisting equipment below the elevators, not above, to avoid the visual impact at the station entrance pavilion.