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Angels Flight reopens for good

OW Staff Writer | 9/7/2017, midnight
Angels Flight was expected to return to operation today, according to a representative of the company operating the 116-year-old funicular, ...

Angels Flight was expected to return to operation today, according to a representative of the company operating the 116-year-old funicular, which is billed as the world's shortest railway.

The Labor Day closure—which came just four days after Mayor Eric Garcetti presided over a ceremony marking its reopening following a four-year closure—was due to a damaged part that was likely weakened from 100-degree-plus temperatures over the weekend, according to Steve DeWitt, a senior vice president at ACS Infrastructure.

“Due to the extreme heat of the last few days, there's been some contraction and expansion that happens in the bottom of the cars and the system itself, and one of the rollers shattered,'' DeWitt told City News Service.

“And in order to replace the rollers, we had to shut down.”

DeWitt said the rollers are on the trestle system that keeps the cars’ cables in alignment. The railway was tested 2,000 times before the reopening, but the damage may have happened on Sunday, he said.

“There's no safety concern at all. The cars are going to run fine. We just found this roller, and given the safety history, we just wanted to make sure that nothing of any kind can ever occur here. And in an abundance of caution, we're making sure that it is operating like it needs to be,” DeWitt said.

Angels Flight, which runs on Bunker Hill from 351 S. Hill St. to California Plaza at 350 S. Grand Ave., had reopened Aug. 31 after being closed since 2013 for modernization and safety upgrades. Some $5 million in renovations were made through a partnership between the nonprofit Angels Flight Railway Foundation, ACS Infrastructure and the engineering firm Sener, which formed the Angeles Flight Development Co.

The railway, which reopened in 1996 after being closed for three decades, has had a troubled history. One person was killed in a 2001 accident that caused it to be closed for nine years. It reopened in 2010, but the CPUC shut it down for a month in 2012 over safety concerns, and it operated until it was closed again in 2013 following a minor accident.

Col. J.W. Eddy first opened the funicular rail up Bunker Hill (at Third and Hill streets) on Dec. 31, 1901, when rides cost a penny. It was dismantled and put into storage in 1969 because of the Bunker Hill urban renewal project, then rebuilt and reopened in 1996, a half-block south of the original site.