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40 Years Ago: $420 Million Transit Plan Proposed to Link Downtown and LAX

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011, at 04:22PM
1971 RTD Transit Plan RTD / L.A. Times

40 years ago today, officials from the Rapid Transit District unveiled plans for a $420 million plan to link Downtown to LAX via a line that would include both subway and elevated segments.

Four decades later, many of the pieces of that proposed line have been implemented, but the only ride going from Union Station to the airport is a bus.

To get the effort moving, RTD pledged that it would contribute $70 million of the needed funds, half of what it expected that local agencies would need to contribute in order to get the rest in matching funds.

The proposed line started out as a subway at Union Station, traveling through Downtown and then south to USC before emerging as an elevated near Exposition Park. It would then zig-zag east toward the routing of the modern Blue Line before connecting up with the Century Freeway, at that point still years away from completion.

That east-west corridor would eventually become Metro's Green Line, though its planned airport connection was instead curved south into El Segundo.

In 1971, RTD proposed that construction could start by 1973 and the line could be completed by 1978. The eventual Blue and Green lines took a little bit longer to come to fruition, opening in 1990 and 1995, respectively. Costs also climbed just a bit, with the two costing a combined $1.6 billion.


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