Angels Flight's Rail Cars Back Home

Downtown Los Angeles historic landmark ready for testing.

Before Saturday's afternoon showers, a 275-ton crane gently lifted the rail car named Olivet over the Angels Flight 100-year old arch and laid it on the tracks. Its sister car -- Sinai -- sat patiently on a flatbed truck next to the Hill Street station as crews measured cables on the upper section of the landmark funicular.

It’s been a long wait to see the two cars sit on Angels Flight again.  It may be just in time to be a vital link to the cultural corridor of Grand Ave and Downtown’s Historic Core’s growing street life from residents moving into the urban core -- and there is still potential for growth.

High up on the hill, the Grand Avenue project had foreign investors jump on board to keep the tower moving forward.  Down the hill, the city’s “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative is designed to revitalize the downtown street lined with historic theaters.

When Angels Flight was restored in 1996, after being closed since 1969, the current wave of downtown residents was a few years away.  The ride up the steep incline a novelty before it was closed in 2001 due to a fatal accident.

“Even in 2001, a downtown (with residents) was still a dream,” said John Welborne, president of the Angels Flight Railway Foundation. as Sinai was about to sit on the rail.

Welborne, who was wearing an orange hard hat matching the color of the two historic cars, began talking about the first major donation for this restoration.  Author Michael Connelly offered 30 first edition copies of his novel “Angels Flight” and since then, the Angels Flight Railway Foundation raised $3.5 million from public and private sector.

It will open as soon as possible he adds. First, Angels Flight will make complete tests through a third party engineer before state rail regulator, The California Public Utilities, does a safety inspection of the railway. When Angels Flight is ready for passengers, it will run from 6:30 a.m to 10 p.m. every day later this year, or in early 2009.

Then Welbourne excused himself. He wanted to take a closer look at Sinai’s wheels sitting on the rail.

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