A rendering of the First and Central station of the Metro Regional Connector.




Metro previewed plans for the Regional Connector project, including the Little Tokyo station, ahead of  a series of public update meetings.

The meeting in Little Tokyo will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the Japanese American National Museum, located at First and Central in Los Angeles, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Japanese translation will be available.

Construction on the $1.37 billion Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile underground alignment, is set to begin in late 2013, contingent on receiving a full funding grant agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration. The project is expected to be completed by 2019.

On June 29, the FTA granted a record of decision to the Regional Connector, certifying that it has met all federal environmental guidelines, which allows the project to proceed with preconstruction activities, including relocation of utilities such as sewer, fiber optic and power lines along the route.

A diagram of the Little Tokyo station.

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.

The First and Central Avenue station, designed by Ted Tokio Tanaka Architects, will have two entrances facing First and Second streets. The platform will be less than 40 feet below ground, which Metro staff says will provide for easy access by the public.

A transparent, open roof will allow for natural light to enter from the surface. Ticket machines will be at ground level in a pavilion.

Tanaka is expected to be at the Aug. 29 meeting. Metro staff said they will be working with each community on the artwork for the station. Other areas of variability include landscaping, lighting and ceilings.

Metro is also moving ahead with real estate acquisition. Señor Fish, Weiland Brewery and Spice Table in Little Tokyo are among the businesses that will be displaced by the construction.

Little Tokyo businesses and community groups, including Japanese Village Plaza, have expressed concern throughout the process of the potential negative impacts of construction.

Next steps on the project include formation of the Community Leadership Council, which will work with Metro on mitigation issues and further meetings with stakeholders.

The meetings will be streamed live online at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/community-update-meetings. For more information, visit metro.net/regionalconnector or call (213) 922-7277.

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  1. In the long run, I think having a one-seat ride to Little Tokyo from multiple directions will beat whatever problems construction will bring.

    The community really is getting an amazing deal from Metro. They could have built the Regional Connector at-grade in Little Tokyo; instead we will be getting a subway station.

    I’m not crazy about the design, as I think the ticket machines and gates could have been placed underground, just as they would be in Japan.

    However, this is going to be good for Little Tokyo — and for Japanese Americans headed downtown for Nisei Week or Obon.