As construction starts on the next Expo Line phase, a major federal approval was received this week to link trains across downtown Los Angeles, and open houses were scheduled on the .
The planned hearings come as the federal government approved the concept of a major light rail tunnel under downtown Los Angeles to allow Expo and Blue line trains to connect to Gold Line tracks near Union Station.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said this week that the Federal Transit Administration gave a green light to the $1.37 billion "Regional Connector" project, a nearly-two mile set of tunnels from the 7th at Figueroa Streets station north and then east under Bunker Hill and the Civic Center area to Little Tokyo.
The federal action means the downtown tunnels have completed the environmental review process and can now go to the design and build phases. Federal aid is expected to fund much of the project. The Regional Connector will allow one-seat light rail service from Montclair and Pasadena to Long Beach, and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica, possibly within seven years.
Actual construction of the second phase of the Expo Line began this month, with the demolition of an old freight viaduct over Motor Avenue in Cheviot Hills, and the construction of parking lots along Colorado Boulevard in Santa Monica. The new passenger rail line will bisect Santa Monica on the southern side of Colorado Boulevard, and the new lots will replace lost on- street parking.
Metro and the Exposition Construction Authority officials said two meetings this month will include a short presentation, followed by an "open house" format listening session.
The open houses will be at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday at the Vista Del Mar Child And Family Service Gymnasium, 3200 Motor Ave., in Cheviot Hills, and eight days later, at 6:30 p.m. July 18 at the .
The Expo Line's second phase will extend two sets of tracks west from Robertson at Venice boulevards along MTA property that formerly hosted Southern Pacific steam and electric engines, and then diesel freight service until the late 1980s. Service has already begun on the first Expo phase, from downtown south to Exposition Park and then west to Culver City.