Metro Expo Line Train

A $15 million federal grant will help convert a rarely used South Los Angeles railroad track into a 6.4-mile pedestrian and bike path linking three rail and bus lines, Metro officials announced Thursday.

The walking and bicycling path will replace the Harbor Subdivision, a single-track railroad alongside Slauson Avenue that is used occasionally by BNSF Railway.

The proposed path will travel between east and west, crossing through several north-south light rail and bus lines, including the Metro Blue light rail route, the Silver bus rapid transit line and the future Crenshaw/LAX light rail that is now under construction.

The federal grant will cover nearly half of the costs of the $34.3 million project, with Metro providing $19.3 million in local and state money.

The $15 million is part of a larger $500 million amount for a total of 39 projects announced by U.S. DOT Thursday for the TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Act, program.

The area where the path will be installed is already frequented by 4,300 pedestrians and 2,500 bicyclists, according to Metro figures.

The path would serve an area with about 107,900 residents, and a fifth of the households living a half mile from the railroad track do not own vehicles, Metro officials said.

Metro has done similar conversions of rail tracks, such as the popular Chandler Bikeway in Burbank, and this “Rail to Rail” project “will bring similar benefits to South L.A. residents,” Metro CEO Phil Washington said.

U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez said Metro won the competitive grant because the funding application “achieved the goals of connecting neighborhoods and helping communities coordinate innovative, multi-modal transportation projects that serve the diverse travel needs of residents and businesses.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chairman Mark Ridley- Thomas, who chairs the Metro Board of Directors, thanked the “Obama Administration for sharing Metro’s vision that this blighted right-of-way can and must be transformed into a corridor where walking and biking can be done safely.”

“With this investment, Angelenos will be able to efficiently access the Blue Line and the future Crenshaw/LAX Line,” while the changes will “make a meaningful difference in the quality of life of the hundreds of thousands of people who live, work and visit the surrounding areas.”

In addition to the path, the project will include the installation of crosswalk markings, curb ramps, repainted stop bars, signs, lighting and landscaping.

— City News Service 

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