The City Council Tuesday voted to hire a consultant to study possible changes in the design of the $685-million Los Angeles-to-Long Beach light rail, even though the project is already under construction.
At the request of Councilwoman Jan Hall, the council voted 7-2 to study whether the Long Beach end of the commuter rail should be elevated to alleviate traffic problems.
The consultant will be asked to determine the cost of the project and how long construction would be delayed by a change in the plans. At a study session Tuesday, Rick Richmond, executive director of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, estimated that elevating the light rail in Long Beach would add $46 million to the cost. He added that such a move would also delay construction of the rail by a year because county officials would have to do a supplemental environmental study of the impact of an elevated route.
Councilman Warren Harwood, who voted against the study, said that any changes in the design for the light rail would amount to "tying on tin cans" to the project. Harwood warned that any delay might jeopardize Long Beach's participation in the project, as did Jacki Bacharach, chairman of the county Transportation Commission's construction committee.
The study will take several weeks, City Manager John E. Dever said.