29 Years Since L.A. Subway Groundbreaking, With Glacial Progress Ever Since

Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1986 groundbreaking on L.A.’s Red Line subway, for its initial 4.1 mile segment from downtown.  On the video below, you see many of the prime actors who made L.A. rail happen, from Mayor Tom Bradley to transit officials like Marv Holen and Jan Hall. 

What stands out to me though is how off some of the predictions were.  Dyer, for example, predicted that in 40-50 years there would be “40-50 miles of subway,” with 110 miles of light rail. He thought they’d all be in place in 10 or 20 years. Instead, almost 30 years later we have only 18.6 miles of subway, with just a 4-mile extension in the immediate pipeline, moving at a literal glacial pace. The system with light rail included totals 87.7 miles, albeit with some new lines opening in the coming years.

But perhaps Dyer could be forgiven. Rail was new in Los Angeles at the time, and nobody anticipated how bogged down planning and construction would become. But it points to how painful it has become to implement these projects.

Meanwhile, enjoy this funky 80s video of the groundbreaking festivities:


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