The Devil Is in the Details

Aerial view of Regional Connector station at First and Alameda.

Aerial view of Regional Connector station at First and Alameda.

To show you how clueless I am, I hadn’t heard anything about the MTA’s proposed Regional Connector project until a few days ago. This is a major undertaking, and it has major implications, not just for the downtown area but for all of LA. Briefly, the purpose of the project is to link together the Gold Line’s Little Tokyo Station with the Red Line’s 7th & Metro Station, which could make things a lot easier for transit riders. For a more complete explanation, here’s a link to the Regional Connector page on the MTA’s web site.

MTA Regional Connector

And if you’d like to see what the completed project would look like, click the link below to see proposed designs, as well as maps laying out the location of the stops. I thought some of the comments were interesting, too. A lot of people are less than thrilled with the way the stations are laid out.

LA.StreetsBlog

As with any project of this size, there are pros and cons. Overall, I think the Regional Connector could be tremendously beneficial. But there are also potential problems, and three different groups are suing the MTA over the project. One issue is that a number of local businesses will be displaced. Even businesses that don’t have to worry about being demolished are very concerned about being able to function during construction. Many of these are family-run enterprises, and a significant loss of customers over a period of years could kill them.

I spent some time this morning checking out a number of articles on the Regional Connector, and often the comments were the most interesting part of the story. A lot of downtown residents are totally gung ho on this project. Many of them dismiss the concerns of the local businesses as though the owners are worrying over nothing. A few of the commenters are so angry about the lawsuits that they suggested a boycott of the businesses involved. I wonder how these commenters would feel if an enterprise they’d worked for years to establish was threatened with extinction.

I also wonder if the people who are so enthusiastic about this project remember the last time the city built an underground rail line. I’m referring to the construction of the Red Line, which ran way behind schedule and way over budget, and caused massive problems when they were tunnelling under Hollywood Boulevard. The street actually sank six inches during this period, and the digging also affected water lines. There was also evidence of massive corruption and sub-standard work by the contractors. Here’s a link to some of the comments posted at the LA Times during this period.

LA Times – Red Line Comments

I do think the Regional Connector could be really good for LA, but we have to show a healthy skepticism about any project of this size. The picture the MTA paints makes it all sound great, but there’s a big difference between creating digital renderings and actually getting it done. Don’t forget, they’ve burned us before.

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