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County Panel Acts to Take Reins of Metro Rail Project

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission on Wednesday took steps that could make it the main overseer of construction of future phases of the Metro Rail subway and, in effect, take that job away from the RTD.

On a 6-5 vote that followed a contentious debate among commissioners and RTD officials, the commission designated itself as the “grantee” or lead agency in dealing with the federal government in upcoming negotiations for a $2.2-billion extension of the subway from MacArthur Park to North Hollywood. The action came over the strong objections of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, which is the lead agency on the first $1.25-billion segment of the project now well into construction in downtown.

Wednesday’s vote was a precursor to a showdown expected in two weeks, when the commission is scheduled to decide whether to form a new rail construction agency, wholly controlled by the commission, to consolidate building of mass transit projects. The RTD would continue to operate the rail system.

Proponents argue the construction merger would reduce costs and improve planning.

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But the RTD said it should be allowed to build the rail system, warning the commission’s action may not be legal and could actually increase costs.

The issue of who should be in charge arose unexpectedly Wednesday when RTD General Manager Alan Pegg and RTD board member Jan Hall appeared before the commission carrying an invitation to join with RTD officials in going to Washington to begin funding negotiations for the next phase.


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