Metro has received a $15-million federal TIGER grant to help construct 6.4 miles of the Rail-to-River pedestrian and bike path that would run between the future Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Silver Line and the Blue Line, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Metro announced Thursday.
The above map shows the path’s route, which would convert part of an under-used rail corridor that Metro owns — it’s known as the Harbor Subdivision. This segment is used very infrequently by the BNSF freight railroad.
A few notes about the project:
•The demographics of the area indicate there is a need for better first-mile, last-mile connections. The Rail to Rail corridor is home to about 108,000 residents and has a population density more than six times the county average. Over two-thirds of the area residents are minority. More than one-fifth of the households within ½ mile of the project corridor do not own a vehicle and 16.8 percent of the area workers commute to work via public transit, bicycle and/or walking.
•The path will follow a busy east-west traffic corridor mostly along Slauson Avenue, a four-lane street. There is currently no bike lane on Slauson, nor is there a sidewalk on Slauson’s north side. Here are collision statistics from the corridor from a 2014 feasibility study by Metro:
•There are still hurdles to clear to build the project, which has an estimated cost of $34.3 million. In addition to the $15 million from the federal grant, another $19.3 million will come from local and state funds. Metro will have to environmentally clear the alignment and negotiate with BNSF — which still has rights to use the corridor — to formally abandon the rail right-of-way.
•The right-of-way is typically 15 feet to 17 feet wide. Part of the project will involve adding signage, benches, lighting and some landscaping — although the extent of that will be determined later as the project is actually designed. There is more about the landscaping issue in the project’s feasibility report.
•Below is a video that shows the Harbor Subdivision going from east to west. The segment of the Rail-to-River project with funding begins at the 44-second mark in the video and then continues until the video ends at Crenshaw and 67th Street. The Rail-to-River path at that point will continue using 67th Street and West Boulevard to reach the Fairview Heights Station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line at the intersection of Florence Avenue and West.
Here is the news release from Metro:
METRO RECEIVES $15 MILLION IN FEDERAL GRANT TO CONSTRUCT
PEDESTRIAN/BICYCLE CORRIDOR IN SOUTH LOS ANGELES
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced today that it was awarded a $15 million United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Act (TIGER) VII grant for construction of the Rail to Rail Active Transportation Corridor Connector Project.
The Rail to Rail project will transform a 6.4 mile stretch of minimally active Metro-owned rail right of way called the Harbor Subdivision into a bicycle and pedestrian path. The project parallels Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles connecting the future Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Fairview Heights Station with the Metro Silver Line at the I-110 freeway and the Metro Blue Line Station, ending at Santa Fe Avenue.
“I want to thank 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,” Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “With this investment, Angelenos will be able to efficiently access the Blue Line and the future Crenshaw/LAX Line,” he added. “The proposed improvements 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.”
“Metro’s 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,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez.
Metro will contribute up to $19.3 million in local and state money to fund the $34.3 million transportation development.
Metro has owned the right of way for the Harbor Subdivision since the early 1990s. Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad has operating easements, but rarely runs trains along those tracks. Metro will initiate an abandonment process to transfer the BNSF easements.
“Metro has already successfully repurposed little-used or abandoned rights-of-ways into bicycle and pedestrian routes, notably the Metro Orange Line, the Bellflower Bike Trail and the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank, and Rail to Rail will bring similar benefits to South L.A. residents.” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington.
The Rail to Rail corridor is home to about 108,000 residents and has a population density more than six times the county average. Over two-thirds of the area residents are minority; more than one-fifth of the households within ½ mile of the project corridor do not own a vehicle and 16.8 percent of the area workers commute to work via public transit, bicycle and/or walking.
The DOT TIGER grant program is highly competitive with projects in all 50 states and U.S. territories applications competing for $500 million in total grants.