Local

Key Los Angeles subway connector 1 step closer

A Metro Rail light train on the Gold Line travels over the 101 Santa Ana Freeway near Union Station in Los Angeles Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. By tying together three existing light rail lines, a
A Metro Rail light train on the Gold Line travels over the 101 Santa Ana Freeway near Union Station in Los Angeles Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. By tying together three existing light rail lines, a "regional connector" will eliminate the two transfers that riders traveling from one side of downtown to the other now endure.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

A new underground train that will speed passengers through downtown Los Angeles took a symbolic step forward Tuesday with a "groundbreaking" attended by shovel-wielding politicians and transportation officials.

The "regional connector," as officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority call the new line, is a missing piece in a growing subway and light rail network. By tying together three existing light rail lines, it will eliminate the two transfers that riders traveling from one side of downtown to the other now endure.

The ceremony in the Little Tokyo neighborhood included U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — and emcee and former "Star Trek" actor George Takei.

Major construction work on the $1.4 billion project is expected to begin next year, with completion in 2020.