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25 Years Ago: Metro Rail Groundbreaking Held

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, September 29, 2011, at 08:39AM
Metro Rail Groundbreaking Metro Transportation Library and Archive [Flickr]

Civic leaders gather around a rail car borrowed from BART for Metro Rail's ceremonial groundbreaking on September 29, 1986.

On September 29, 1986, a crowd of 1,200 gathered at 1st and Hill to celebrate a ceremonial groundbreaking for Metro Rail, the Southern California Rapid Transit District's planned $3.3-billion rail system for Los Angeles.

Costs turned out to be just a little bit higher—Metro's official numbers list the cost of the eventual Red Line at $4.5 billion—but the occasion did kick off what has been a prolific 25 years in transit building.

The light rail Blue Line opened to Long Beach in 1990, followed by the first leg of the heavy rail Red Line in 1993, the Green Line in 1995, and the Gold Line in 2005.

With the 2009 opening of the Gold Line's Eastside Extension, the system now operated by Metro includes 79.1 miles of rail.

That number will go up significantly in recent years with the opening of the Expo Line, the Gold Line's Foothill Extension, the Regional Connector and the eventual westside extension of the Purple Line.

Los Angeles is certainly paying the price for being late to the game in transit construction, but it is worth taking a second to note how far the system has come in a relatively short period of time.

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