Ground broken for 5.5-mile path for bikes, walkers

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Staff and Wire Reports

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A host of local officials broke ground July 6 on an ambitious project to create a scenic bike and pedestrian path stretching from Inglewood through South Los Angeles, connecting a pair of light rail lines and a rapid transit bus corridor on the Harbor (110) Freeway.

The Rail to Rail Active Transportation Project will stretch 5.5 miles, reaching from the A (Blue) Line rail station at Slauson Avenue to the future Fairview Heights station on the soon-to-open K (Crenshaw/LAX)  line on Florence Avenue in Inglewood.

Along the way, the path will connect with the Silver Line rapid bus station at the 110 Freeway and Slauson Avenue.

According to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials, the path will be constructed along an unused rail corridor owned by the agency, while also utilizing some city and county streets.

“By converting an abandoned and blighted railway into a world class bike and pedestrian path, we are providing significant quality of life and mobility improvements to some of Los Angeles’ most under-served neighborhoods — providing safe options for the student who bikes to school, or the family setting out for a walk,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

Inglewood Mayor James Butts said the project will be a welcome improvement to the unused rail corridor.

“This is where the train ran, and when the train didn’t run anymore, it was just ignored,” Butts said. “I wondered as I grew up, I said, how long are those train tracks going to be there? When this active transportation project is completed, people will be able to use the path to access jobs, businesses, sports and entertainment.”

“I could not be happier to see this important active transportation project break ground,” said MTA CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “The Rail to Rail project will improve on a well-worn path thousands of people in the community use every day, improving access to transit and adding beautiful amenities to the community in the process.”

Also attending the ground-breaking ceremony were City Councilmen Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson and county Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

“Today, decades of work are made real as we invest and transform these old rail tracks into a corridor that the Slauson community can be proud of,” Mitchell said. “And to all of our neighbors, our work won’t stop here. We are focused on strategies to ensure these investments help lift our most vulnerable communities and preserve the fabric of communities who live here today.”

The city of Los Angeles requested significant public right-of-way improvements be completed in conjunction with the project and contributed $30 million to pay for those improvements. The city’s funding will bring pedestrian accessibility improvements to 22 intersections along the route and will increase pedestrian visibility and reduce vehicle/pedestrian interactions.

“I led the city’s effort to provide these funds … because I wanted to ensure that the agency’s contractor had all the funding it needed to expedite completion of both the city right-of-way MTA improvements at the same time,” Price said.

“By combining this work into a single project, we can best ensure that, on day one of its opening, we deliver a comprehensive package of improvements that will immediately benefit everyone who accesses this new community amenity.”

“Before I became a council member, this project was envisioned by some of our most committed public servants, and with input from over a dozen social justice organizations,” Harris-Dawson said. “This project can be used as a model for safety and environmental equity.”

The path is expected to be heavily landscaped with dedicated walking and bike paths separated from traffic.

MTA officials said the project will include installation of “several thousand” shrubs, hundreds of trees, lights, security cameras and benches.

The latest census data shows that this corridor has some of the county’s highest percentages of people who rely on transit, biking and walking to commute. Nearly 19% of households in the area do not have access to a car.

Census data also indicates that nearly 4,300 pedestrians and 2,500 cyclists use the corridor each day. Rail to Rail will provide a significant safety benefit for bicyclists and pedestrians because the new path will be mostly separated from busy local streets.

The $140 million project is expected to be completed in 2024.

Planning is continuing on a proposed second phase of the project — a Rail to River path — which would stretch east from the A Line’s Slauson station and move through the Huntington Park area, eventually connecting with the Los Angeles River.

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