LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles city and county officials handed out checks Monday totaling more than $66,000 to small business owners who have lost business due to Metro Rail construction projects.

Metro board Chair and Mayor Eric Garcetti, county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Metro board member Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker were on hand to distribute the first checks this morning where construction of the Wilshire Boulevard subway has made a mess of the area directly surrounding the La Brea Tar Pits.

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KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports the transit agency plans on giving out about $10 million annually in public funds to help offset lessen the nuisance, dirt and obstacles at several major construction sites across the city.

Metro’s Board of Directors established the agency’s Business Interruption Fund earlier this year, a “unprecedented” pilot program aimed at helping small “mom and pop” businesses located along the Crenshaw/LAX line, the Little Tokyo area along the Regional Connector and Phase I of the Purple Line extension that are impacted by transit rail construction, according to officials.

Marilyn Brown, owner of Design Studio 27 salon, received $9,800 after construction cost her business as much as 60 percent in lost revenues and ultimately forced her to move.

“It is a bittersweet day…because in one aspect, it’s like putting a chapter behind you, but to move forward to bigger things,” said Brown. “So, I’m looking forward to the future.”

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Another local owner, Gilberto Carrillo, received nearly $40,000 after slowed to a stop at his Choice Driving & Traffic School.

“There was nobody walking into our business,” he said. “It was a tremendous loss.”

MTA crews are currently working on three big digs: along the Purple Line extension on the Miracle Mile section of Wilshire, on the crosstown light rail connector downtown and at Little Tokyo, and along Crenshaw Boulevard near Baldwin Hills and at Leimert Park.

It’s all part of what is considered to currently be the nation’s largest public works project, according to Metro officials.

Handing out checks to local business owners is part of “an unprecedented program for public construction projects in the United States and represents another way Metro is helping small businesses during major construction,” according to Metro.

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