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Crossings Trip Up Our Rail Revival

January 11, 2003

Re "1 Killed, 33 Hurt in Train Crash," Jan. 7: Between Washington and Boston, a distance of 457 miles, there are no rail crossings. Tracks either go over roads or roads over tracks. Trains on this route can go 125 to 150 mph. Local commuter trains in the Boston area also have very limited rail crossings.

Los Angeles, the surrounding communities and the railroads must lay out a plan for eliminating rail crossings. In many cases, small side streets could be blocked, tracks could be put in below-ground corridors (like the Alameda Corridor for freight trains from Long Beach) or elevated sections built across major streets. Freeways don't have crossings; neither should high-speed rail lines.

We have a long way to go, but progress is being made. The key to long-term growth is high-speed rail connecting all of Southern California, including airports, with local bus service, in a seamless network. Every city must cooperate in this nonpartisan endeavor. Many people are already discovering the benefits of riding Metrolink versus driving. Fares are very reasonable, travel time is fast (one hour, 10 minutes from Laguna Niguel to L.A. Try that on the 5 Freeway during rush hour), and there is convenient, free parking at most stations.

Dennis Arntz

Laguna Niguel

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Re "Rail System Is Growing but Still a Minor Player," Jan. 7: Metrolink is a miracle that moves 34,000 cars off our freeways during morning and evening rush hours -- with far fewer accidents per passenger mile than most other forms of transportation in the city. I am a daily Metrolink rider to downtown L.A. Get hip, Los Angeles! I pay for the privilege of keeping my car off the freeway you drive on every day.

J. Scott Bovitz

Los Angeles

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Your in-depth article on the growth of Metrolink clearly communicated the benefits enjoyed by Metrolink riders, who are prepared to pay up to $300 per month. The sight of passengers reading, relaxing or taking a nap must look very appealing to those fighting daily traffic. It is not a coincidence that the growth of commuter rail, light rail and subway options is followed by a renaissance of downtown Los Angeles and exciting developments in Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach and other areas served -- or soon to be served -- with rail transit. Commuters arriving by Metrolink do not require the ugly parking lots and structures that permeate downtown Los Angeles, and they thus facilitate the growth of a 24-hour, livable city.

In his criticism of Metrolink and other fixed-rail systems, USC engineering professor Jim Moore states, misleadingly, that "Los Angeles is becoming both bigger and less dense." With respect, there are several corridors within Los Angeles, such as the Exposition Boulevard corridor to Culver City and Santa Monica, that have more than enough density to support rail. As population and density grow in these corridors, we will be very thankful for Metrolink's tracks and any other alternatives to gridlock.

Andrew Shaddock

Manhattan Beach

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