LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Crews have started construction on a nearly two-mile Metro regional connector that will eventually allow passengers to take a single trip to reach far-flung suburbs from Azusa to Long Beach, according to officials Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx were on hand at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Metro Gold Line’s Little Tokyo/Arts District Station for the $1.4 billion Regional Connector Light Rail station, which will bring together the Gold, Blue and Expo lines to streamline transfers and enable a single-seat ride through Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Monica, the Eastside and stops in between.

KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero the project – with over $900 million in federal funding – could spur up to 15,000 jobs in the region over the next several years.

Actor George Takei, who is known for his advocacy of public transit, as well as for playing Sulu on TV’s “Star Trek,” served as emcee of the ceremony, which also featured Rep. Janice Hahn, Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian and Los Angeles County supervisors Gloria Molina and Don Knabe.

The 1.9-mile tunnel will fill a light rail gap that currently exists between the end of the Blue and Expo Lines at 7th Street Metro Center and the closest Gold Line station in Little Tokyo.

“A trip that takes 20 minutes and two transfers today will be cut to 10 minutes and no transfers tomorrow,” said Garcetti.

Metro survived several lawsuits by businesses in the affected area during the pre-construction stage, and agreed to limit noise when the trains run near the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Regional Connector Project is also partial funded from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase that was approved by voters in 2008.

The rail line is expected to be completed in 2020, according to Metro officials.

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