Construction began Friday on Metro’s Eastside Access Improvement Project to improve pedestrian safety and bicycle access in downtown L.A. between the Little Tokyo/Arts District station and Union Station.

The $29.7 million project is centered within a one-mile radius of the under-construction Metro Regional Connector Transit Project’s Little Tokyo/Arts District Station at First Street and Central Avenue, including on First Street, Alameda Street, Los Angeles Street, Second Street, Central Avenue, Judge John Aiso Street, Santa Fe Avenue and Center Street.

Construction includes crosswalk improvements at 19 intersections, bike/walk esplanades with double rows of street trees and nearly 1.7 new miles of bike lanes.

“Today marks the beginning of improved access to Metro’s bus and rail facilities that stretch from Union Station to the Little Tokyo and Arts District communities that, once completed, will provide a safer and more vibrant experience for Metro bus and rail passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and visitors to downtown’s distinct neighborhoods,” said Metro Board Chair and Chair of the Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda L. Solis.

“These improvements will provide enhanced access to and from these vibrant communities while we work to expand our bus and rail network, and they will go a long way in enhancing the quality of life for all residents nearby.”

The Regional Connector Transit Project, which will start at Little Tokyo/Arts District and end at Seventh Street/Metro Center, will provide the missing link in downtown Los Angeles by running nearly two miles to provide a connection from the Metro L (Gold) Line, the A (Blue) Line and the E Line.

Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said Friday that the Eastside Access Improvement Project is part of Metro’s goal to use the Regional Connector Project as a way to improve surrounding areas.

“This important project helps us fulfill that promise. It provides more access, more connectivity, and a safer pedestrian environment than when we started Regional Connector construction so many years ago,” Wiggins said.

Metro is also planning pedestrian and bicycle access improvements through new sidewalks, crosswalks, street trees, lighting and civic space between Union Station and El Pueblo.

The Eastside Access Improvement Project was funded through both federal grants and Measure R, which is a half-cent sales tax that finances new transportation projects.

The Regional Connector Transit Project and the Eastside Access Improvement Project are expected to be complete in 2022.

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