In Celebration, Metro Will Offer Free Rides On its Entire Transit System All Weekend
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today celebrated the official opening of the Regional Connector transit project at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). The opening ceremony, emceed by actor, Trustee, Chair Emeritus and JANM founding member, George Takei, featured several musical performances, and a special plaque unveiling in honor of Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Japanese American National Museum Board of Trustees Chair, which will be installed at the new Little Tokyo/Arts District Station.
Mineta, a dedicated member of the Japanese American Community, worked closely with Metro in securing the financing for the Regional Connector at the federal level. As a result of his relationships with the Little Tokyo Community Council, Metro, and those at the federal level, he helped bring all the pieces together for the Regional Connector transit project. During his time in Congress, Mineta championed legislation promoting and furthering justice. Today, all public transit buses are universally accessible because of his leadership in shaping the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He was also a co-sponsor of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
“It’s finally opened! Los Angeles County residents now have three gorgeous new underground stations to help them travel easily across L.A. County and readily reach more Downtown LA locations via Metro rail,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “What better way to celebrate the opening than with the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Norman Y. Mineta, a national treasure and someone whose many worthy accomplishments played a crucial role in the transportation industry. Mineta’s legacy will continue to live on for those who pass through the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station.”
The Regional Connector transforms the way many riders will experience the Metro system. The 1.9 miles of new track laid allows light rail trains to travel between Union Station and the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown’s Financial District. Before the Regional Connector, that’s a journey only Metro’s heavy rail lines could make. Bridging this gap allows Metro to merge the hook-shaped L (Gold) line with the A (Blue) and E (Expo) lines, creating two serpent-like train lines where there were once three. With the opening of the Regional Connector, riders will have access to three new underground stations:
- Little Tokyo/Arts District Station where riders will have easy access to historically rich and vibrant neighborhoods and cultural institutions.
- Historic Broadway Station features two nationally registered districts: the Broadway Theater District, with 12 original theaters within seven blocks and Old Spring Street, known as the original Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles.
- Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station connects riders to downtown’s performing arts institutions, museums, fine dining experiences and more.
“For the first time since the Blue Line opened over 30 years ago, it will now provide a seamless, single-seat connection from Downtown Long Beach to Union Station, Pasadena, and beyond,” said LA County Supervisor and Second Vice Chair Metro Board Member Janice Hahn. “This isn’t just an infrastructure or rail project – this is going to transform how people all across LA County get to jobs, schools, the doctor, or even just a day at the museum.”
Riders can now visit cultural events and venues in downtown Los Angeles, public parks, and other major attractions. The new underground stations will offer easier access to medical facilities and jobs and commerce centers throughout the city. Many of the key destinations are within walking distance of the new underground stations, including the Japanese American National Museum, Million Dollar Theater, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, to name a few.
“With the Regional Connector’s opening, more people and communities across the region will have a faster, easier Metro ride, all while Metro continues its work to make the experience safer, cleaner, and more welcoming for todays and future riders, said Metro Board Member and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass. “I know that so many people have worked hard to bring the Regional Connector online, and I intend to build on those efforts alongside my colleagues on the Metro Board of Directors to make sure that our transit network is a world-class system that works for everyone.”
The three new underground stations include eight new artworks commissioned through the agency’s Metro Art program. All artists were selected through an open, competitive selection process following the recommendation of a panel of community-based arts professionals. Site-responsive artworks by Andrea Bowers, Audrey Chan, Mark Steven Greenfield, Ann Hamilton, Pearl C. Hsiung, Clare Rojas, Mungo Thomson, and Clarence Williams animate the plaza, concourse, and platform levels. In addition, a temporary exhibition of artworks by Ralph Gilbert and Samira Yamin is on view at the Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill and Historic Broadway Stations as part of the Metro Art Lightbox Exhibition Program.
“The Regional Connector ushers in a new era of equitable transit and investment that connects more Angelenos to convenient, fast, and reliable rail transit options. With this new system integration and three newly adorned stations, Angelenos have new high-quality transit options to get to civic spaces, cultural destinations, public parks, events, and neighborhoods throughout L.A. County,” said L.A. County Supervisor, Hilda L. Solis. “Our returning and new riders will have easier access to medical facilities, job, and retail centers throughout Los Angles without the burdens of traffic delays, parking, and fueling costs.”
As with previous construction projects, the Regional Connector line was designed and built with the help of community input and local voices. In addition, this project benefited from Metro’s Board-approved small business mitigation programs: the Business Interruption Fund and Eat Shop Play, which helped support small businesses in the areas along this project during construction. The Business Interruption Fund provided support for businesses around the Little Tokyo/Arts District and History Broadway stations- $3.3 million was awarded to 56 small “mom and pop” shops and the Eat Shop Play program provided free marketing assistance to 102 businesses along the Regional Connector line.
“The Regional Connector is a transformative project that gives Angelenos from all over the county better access to opportunity and everything that makes living in LA great,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “Because of this amazing project, people from as far as Azusa will now have easier access to the beach – Santa Monica or Long Beach – and parts of East Los Angeles that were disconnected from the rail system throughout construction will now be re-connected and more accessible to residents and visitors. Thank you to all the Metro team members, contractors, and workers who helped us deliver this incredible project in a safe and equitable way, and thank you to the LA County taxpayers, without whom none of this would have been possible.”
Metro contracted with Regional Connector Constructors (RCC), a joint venture between Skanska USA Civil West California District, Inc., and Traylor Brothers, Inc., to design and build the $1.8 billion Regional Connector. Metro’s contractor has been able to achieve one of the best safety records of all Metro construction projects, with more than 7.7 million hours worked without any lost time due to injury or incident. This is a testament to all the dedicated men and women working on this project, representing one of the best safety records in the construction field.
Metro also implemented a Project Labor Agreement and Construction Careers Policy to encourage construction employment and training opportunities during the Regional Connector project. More than 10 percent of construction workers hired by Metro’s prime contractors on the Regional Connector project were from economically disadvantaged areas, and 20 percent were hired as apprentices to start their careers in construction. PLA/CCP workers included 66 percent who were Latino, five percent African American, and four percent female.
Throughout the summer, Metro will be hosting additional celebrations, including station dedications and community events.
For additional information about the Regional Connector, please visit metro.net/regionalconnector.
“The Regional Connector is a long-awaited promise of transit equity for Los Angeles County residents,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, First Vice Chair, Metro Board of Directors. “Bringing together Metro’s L (Gold), A (Blue) E (Expo), B (Red), D (Purple) lines at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station provides Angelenos more access to LA’s rich cultural landscape, with access to employment centers, faith institutions, education and entertainment hubs that help Los Angeles thrive.”
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is building the most ambitious transportation infrastructure program in the United States and is working to greatly improve mobility through its Vision 2028 Plan. Metro is the lead transportation planning and funding agency for L.A. County and carries about 880,000 boardings daily on a fleet of 2,200 low-emission buses and seven rail lines.
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