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Metro's New Rail to East LA Called 'A Model for the Nation'

Metro's Gold Line Eastside Extension is a "model for the nation," says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood after touring the $898 million project in July.

LaHood toured the latest rail expansion project with Metro CEO Art Leahy along with other national and local transit and civic leaders. The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension is expected to link Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to East L.A. via the Arts District/Little Tokyo and Boyle Heights.

Leahy guided LaHood and others on a first-train ride through the Extension's shiny new stations. Those who attended included: Congressional Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Grace Napolitano, Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member Gloria Molina, Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro Board member José Huizar, and Metro Board member Richard Katz.

Noting that public safety is a major component of all Metro projects, Leahy focused on the agency's ongoing "Look, Listen & Stay Alive" campaign launched in 2008 to educate motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians about becoming familiar with the new light rail train crossings and rail stations.

"Metro wants the public to have a safe experience with light rail," said Leahy, "A train with cars that weigh more than 100,000 pounds can't stop on a dime so motorists and pedestrians must pay attention. Watch for trains, observe the warning lights and signage and don't play on the tracks or station platforms.  And, most importantly, don't run after or next to the train."

Metro's "Safety Ambassadors" are getting the word to all K-12 schools in the area, community centers, churches, hospitals and libraries. Local area residences and businesses also received more than 135,000 informational flyers along with a saturation of media about rail crossing safety.

Expected to open later this year, the six-mile-long Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension light rail line will be the first between downtown and East Los Angeles since March 1963, when the old Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority replaced all of its electric streetcars with buses.

In June, Metro implemented a special Gold Line Eastside bus route to serve patrons in East Los Angeles on an interim basis along the exact route of the Metro Gold Line Extension.

The new line (Line 632 – Downtown LA – Atlantic Station via 1st & 3rd Sts.) operates between Patsaouras Transit Plaza/Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to the Atlantic Station via First Street and Third Street, and serves all Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension stations including Little Tokyo/Arts District, Pico/Aliso, Mariachi Plaza, Soto, Indiana, Maravilla, East LA Civic Center and Atlantic.

Future plans are currently under review to further extend the Metro Gold Line from East Los Angeles to Whittier with four different routes currently under consideration.