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An Old Rail Line Will Become A Cool Pedestrian And Bike Path

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Metro just received funding to create a 6.4 mile-long bicycle and pedestrian pathway along an under-used rail line in South L.A that will provide some welcome green space.

The new project will convert a long section of a rarely-used track—known as the Harbor Subdivision—which mostly parallels Slauson Ave., into a safe, cross-town corridor that will connect Metro's Blue, Silver and Crenshaw Lines, according to The Source. Once converted, the long path will be the first section of a massive "Rail-to-River" pathway, which will ultimately allow people to travel from the Crenshaw line all the way to the L.A. River. Metro announced yesterday that they received a $15 million federal grant, a major portion of the funding needed for the project. The pathway—which at many points will be about 15 to 17 feet wide—will also have landscaping, benches, lighting and signage along the route.

The majority of the east-west path runs mostly along Slauson Ave., a busy four-lane road that has no bike lane and doesn't even have a sidewalk on the north side. The Rail-to-River path will offer a safe and attractive transportation alternative to residents in the area or anyone else looking to travel across town without having to rely on a car. According to Metro, roughly 108,000 residents live along the corridor—a density six times the county average—and one fifth of the households nearby don't own a car, while 16.8% commute via public transportation, bike or by walking.

Metro also points to a study they conducted last year that shows a high number of bicyclists and pedestrians who are hit by cars in the area. The pathway would help provide a better protected option for travel.

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Metro won the grant, according to U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, because their 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," reports City News Service.

While the grant is a major step towards creating the pathway, to complete the project, Metro will also need to utilize another $19.3 million in state and local funds. They also need to environmentally clear the area and ask Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad—which holds the rights to use the track for moving freight, but rarely does so—to "formally abandon the rail right-of-way." The following step will be to begin the design phase.

To help you imagine how long this portion of the "Rail-to-River" path will be, check out this video—with a rocking soundtrack—which shows the beginning of the segment at the 44-second mark and then travels to Crenshaw and 67th Street at the end of the video.