The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) has received a $670m grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to build the two-mile Regional Connector light rail transit line in the city.

LACMTA will use the grant to construct an underground connection between the existing Metro Gold line in Little Tokyo and the Exposition and Blue light rail lines.

LA Metro’s three existing LRT lines will be reconfigured into two lines; one primarily running north to south, and one east to west, while four new light rail vehicles will be added to enhance the existing fleet.

With the project reconfiguration, passengers can reach their destinations without the need for transfers from light rail to the Metro Red or Purple Line subway system, and then back onto light rail.

"The Regional Connector will improve the quality of LA’s light rail service."

Expected to open in 2020, the Regional Connector will initially handle about 60,000 trips or more each weekday.

FTA deputy administrator Therese McMillan said: "The Regional Connector will improve the quality of LA’s light rail service by offering a one-seat ride that cuts travel times from Long Beach to Azusa and from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Santa Monica

"The traffic gridlock of Los Angeles has been the roadblock for many residents who need better, more reliable access to the jobs and educational opportunities offered across the metropolitan area, which is why we are proud to be a partner in the greater transit vision for the future of the Los Angeles region."

Apart from the FTA grant, LACMTA will also receive $64m from other US Department of Transportation (DOT) funds and a loan of up to $160m from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovative Action (TIFIA) program. Remaining fund of about $1.4bn will be pooled from state and local resources.

Image: Officials at the agreement signing event. Photo: courtesy of FTA.