LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County will receive more than a half-billion dollars in federal money to build a long-awaited commuter rail line linking downtown areas with Los Angeles International Airport through some of the region’s poorer neighborhoods, it was announced Monday.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood approved a $545.9 million loan for construction of the Crenshaw Corridor light-rail line, the department announced.

“President Obama called for an America built to last, and this loan program can help us achieve that,” LaHood said in a statement, calling the line a major transportation project that will help the regional economy continue to grow.

The loan will supply more than a third of the projected $1.75 billion cost of the project. The money will help construct an 8½-mile train line linking the existing Metro Exposition Line to the Green Line near Los Angeles International Airport.

When it opens in six years, the line will serve the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo, and portions of unincorporated Los Angeles County, officials said.

Some of the neighborhoods it will serve are low-income and in areas where residents for many years complained that they were underserved by public transportation.

Most of the funding comes from a half-cent sales tax approved by county voters in 2008.

The federal loan actually was announced two years ago.

“But a lot of paperwork goes into securing these things. The good news is that the deal is now officially complete,” Steve Hymon, an official with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said on an agency blog.

The loan comes from the department’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a program that was greatly expanded in a federal transportation spending bill approved by Congress over the summer, according to the Metro blog.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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