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Flawed light rail junction near downtown L.A. closes for repairs

February 13, 2013 |  4:52 pm

Photo: Metro Blue Line cars zip past a station near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Flower Street. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Train service through the busiest light-rail junction in Los Angeles County will be halted this weekend so repairs can be made to a flawed section of track that has caused problems since early 2010.

The work at the Washington Boulevard and Flower Street crossing near downtown Los Angeles will interrupt operations on the Blue Line to Long Beach and the Expo Line to Culver City between 8:30 p.m. Friday and early Monday morning when the repair is expected to be completed.

There will be no Blue Line trains between the 7th Street Metro Center and Grand Station. Service on the Expo Line will be unavailable between Metro Center and the 23rd Street Station.

Shuttle buses will be provided to bridge the gaps for light-rail users. They will run to and from the Metro Center, Pico, Grand and 23rd Street stations.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will put up signs directing transit riders to shuttle locations, where Metro personnel also will be available to assist. Information about the service disruption already is being displayed on station message boards.

Officials plan to slightly narrow the width between the rails along a length of track where the popular Blue Line turns south toward Long Beach after leaving Metro Center. The estimated cost of the repair is about $100,000.

The fix is expected to eliminate excess play in the tracks that was causing train wheels to slam into a small section of the junction, resulting in abnormal wear to wheel assemblies and to a critical piece of the layout known as a “frog” that guides rail cars through a switch.

The flaw in the track alignment was discovered in April 2010. According to a Metro report at the time, it presented a risk of derailment on the Blue Line if left uncorrected.

Though transit officials believe the repair should prevent further problems, they say they will continue to monitor the crossing in the weeks ahead and restrict train speeds through the junction.


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Photo: Metro Blue Line cars zip past a station near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Flower Street. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times