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Metro Rail Cost Overruns

November 29, 1990

The recent revelation of Metro Rail cost overruns should surprise no one ("Overruns Climb to $538 Million for Metro Rail," Metro, Nov. 17). In fact, they bespeak of more of the same to come.

It's not so much that the Metro Rail program is mismanaged, but that it is a program of pork from the outset, designed not to benefit the citizens of the Los Angeles with relief from horrendous traffic congestion but to make speculators and politically connected contractors rich.

Metro Rail is about retail development and real estate manipulation, carrying on a long sordid history akin to the crimes committed when Los Angeles stole water to develop the San Fernando Valley, thus making the real estate speculators who had knowledge of the water rich.

Metro Rail will not alleviate traffic congestion. The first 4.4 miles downtown will not be completed for another three or four years, and where will it take people--to lunch? 4.4 miles is not very helpful if you commute more than 15 miles as most people in Los Angeles do to get to work. The second leg of Metro Rail, going into Hollywood and designed to connect up with rail systems in the Valley, will not be complete until the turn of the century, at the earliest. By this time, when the main components of the underground Metro Rail are in place, projections show that population pressures will have forced ridership to already have exceeded the capacity thus negating any beneficial effects on road traffic.

So why is a system as cumbersome and flawed as Metro Rail the one which Los Angeles officials chose to "solve" our traffic woes? Greed. Each Metro Rail station is designed first and foremost as a retail complex--underground. Those in the know, who have political connections and capital, pushed through Metro Rail because they will buy up the land around the Metro Rail stations and put their shops into the retail space.

Metro Rail is a scandal just now unfolding. The program should be killed now and the money put into buying all available rights of way and Los Angeles should revive a Red Car-type above ground system within the next few years.


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