Regional Connector Transit Project graphic. Courtesy Metro.

A complicated subway project designed to seamlessly connect three rail lines in downtown Los Angeles will open a year later than expected, despite efforts to make up for time lost during construction, according to L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.

The new opening date for the Regional Connector is December 2021, six months after the deadline established by federal officials and a year after the agency’s target date of December 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. The schedule change will not jeopardize $830 million in federal funding for the project, Metro officials said, according to the newspaper.

“We still have four years to go,” project manager Gary Baker said in remarks reported by The Times, adding that work should reach the halfway point early next year. “But I’m confident that we’ll be able to successfully meet our schedule.”

The delay follows months of setbacks beneath the streets of downtown Los Angeles, The Times reported. Aging water pipes and fragile utility lines required reinforcement before crews could safely dig beneath them, according to officials quoted by The Times.

Cost overruns have twice prompted Metro’s board of directors to approve budget increases. The Regional Connector’s $1.75 billion budget is 28 percent higher than originally forecast.

The 1.9-mile Regional Connector project calls for two light-rail tunnels between Union Station and the 7th Street/Metro Center stop in the Financial District. When the link opens, the Blue, Gold and Expo lines will be converted to two routes that will allow passengers to ride from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles, and from Azusa to Long Beach, without transferring.

The tunnels are expected to boost rail ridership by 17,000 trips a day and shave as much as 20 minutes from some journeys.

—City News Service

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