CALIFORNIA

Metro Gold Line station in Little Tokyo to close for three months

The Metro Gold Line station in Little Tokyo will close for three months starting Friday night so construction crews can move a section of the light-rail line's tracks to make room for a new subway connection.

Starting at 9 p.m. Friday, crews will begin preparations to relocate the Gold Line tracks on 1st Street 40 feet to the north to make way for a tunneling machine and other heavy construction equipment, Metro spokesman Paul Gonzales said.

The Little Tokyo station is adjacent to the construction site for the downtown regional connector subway, the $1.5-billion, 1.9-mile tunnel project designed to knit together three light-rail lines between Staples Center and the eastern edge of Little Tokyo. 

The regional connector will allow passengers to move seamlessly through downtown without changing trains. Now, for example, passengers coming from Long Beach must get off the Blue Line and transfer to the Red Line, then the Gold Line, to reach Pasadena or East L.A.

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After the subway tunnels open, trains will emerge at the edge of Little Tokyo before turning north to Union Station or heading east to Boyle Heights.

Rail service between Union Station and the Pico/Aliso stop in Boyle Heights has been canceled until the station reopens, a move slated for late March. Free Metro shuttle buses will carry passengers along that portion of the route.   

The 1st and Alameda intersection will remain open to traffic on weekdays, but will be closed to cars on weekends until March, according to Metro. 

The regional connector will bring three new train stations to downtown Los Angeles: at 1st Street and Central Avenue, 2nd Street and Broadway, and 2nd and Hope streets. Officials say the connector is expected to increase rail ridership by 17,000 boardings a day. 

Originally slated to open in 2020, the regional connector is facing a schedule delay of at least six months after utility relocation work underneath downtown streets proved more costly and time-consuming than originally expected. 

Metro's board of directors recently approved a budget increase of $130 million, or 9%, to cover early cost overruns.

For more transportation news, follow @laura_nelson on Twitter.

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