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Rail Route's Loss Would Be Foolish

May 31, 1987

In the classic book "Ride the Big Red Cars," author Spencer Crump lamented the loss of so much of the former Pacific Electric rights of way. Some years ago, former County Supervisor Baxter Ward similarly commented that the routes were regrettably long gone and covered with apartments.

With these mistakes of the past staring us in the face, it seems insane that as we begin to re-open the surviving parts of this once vast system, we seem prepared to continue the crime of wasting one of the most useful surviving segments left to us today. The vast center of population through which this route runs (in Long Beach) is looking forward now to such desperation tactics as the elimination of curbside parking to provide for additional traffic lanes to try to stave off our approaching gridlock.

The "Newport Line," running along our boundary with the city of Signal Hill and connecting directly with our new light rail line now under construction, must be saved from mindless obliteration by misplaced development. The very thing so often regretted in the past is about to happen again before our very eyes and done with our own hands! What will future generations think of this imminent wasteful action?

I suggest that the city and county, which are apparently content in this era of looming budget cuts to waste $8.4 million of unnecessary and additional cost for a light rail loop, wake up! They can allocate this money instead toward purchasing this right of way now without further delay or excuses. In former times it was planned to extend Appian Way along the sides of the Red Car line. Today it can be both the park and green belt the people are asking for, (with perhaps a bike path) and also a future light rail line due to the enormous width of the property. What are we going to do this time?

--JAMES WASHINGTON

Long Beach

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