A $546 million federal loan will enable the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to begin building an 8.5-mile light rail line from the Crenshaw District to near LAX next spring, creating about 5,000 jobs, it was announced Friday.
The new light rail line will allow direct train service from downtown Los Angeles to an LAX transit center within the next six years. Passenger trains will use the soon-to-open Exposition Line tracks past USC to Crenshaw Boulevard, then head southwest on 8.5 miles of new tracks through Leimert Park and Inglewood to link with existing Green Line tracks near the airport.
The federal loan will be repaid largely through a half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 to generate $18 billion over 30 years to fund 12 major transportation projects, including the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, "At a time when we are suffering through a 12 percent unemployment rate statewide, countywide about a 14.5 percent unemployment rate, this is great news for Angelenos."
Metro chief executive officer Art Leahy said the federal loan is a substantial portion of the 1.4 billion total cost of the light rail line, which will begin at the intersection of the Exposition and Crenshaw Boulevards and end at Green Line's Aviation/Century Center station.
LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas noted the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor was originally expected to be completed in 2029. With the federal loan, the project would instead be completed by 2016 or 2017.
The federal loan comes days after President Barack Obama announced an ambitious plan to overhaul the nation's infrastructure to boost the economy and reduce unemployment.