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Officials: $546M Light Rail To Spur Jobs, Economy

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Planning is underway for a light rail expected to run from the Crenshaw District to Los Angeles International Airport — thanks to a $546 million federal loan — and the project should create thousands of jobs, transportation officials said Wednesday.

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“This loan money will be spent to get the project going, creating thousands of jobs and millions in economic development opportunities once completed,” said county Supervisor Don Knabe, who also chairs the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

The loan enable Metro to begin building a $1.4 billion, 8.5-mile light- rail line from the Crenshaw District to a rail station near LAX several years earlier than originally planned.

The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor will connect to the Metro Green Line and the under-construction Expo Line. Eventually, it will provide direct service to LAX.

Metro officials said they were working environmental documents and ready to start preliminary engineering. Construction could start in late 2011 and be completed as early as 2016, though it could take until 2018.

“This federal funding commitment is a giant step in the right direction,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “With Washington guaranteeing approximately one-third of the project costs at a low-interest rate, we’ll be creating the jobs our economy so desperately needs, and investing in one of our most important resources — our infrastructure.”

A half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 will be used to repay the loan and fund the rest of the project.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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