Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa cheered the finalization of a $545.9 million federal loan to help finance construction of the 8.5-mile Crenshaw Line.

The loan was first announced two years ago, but was finally approved Monday by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“With today’s loan approval, Angelenos are one step closer to getting the transportation system they want and deserve,” Villaraigosa said after the announcement. “This flexible, low-interest loan will help us build a vital link in our expanding public transit system.”

The loan will help cover about 31 percent of the estimated $1.75 billion cost to build the line, which will run from the recently opened Expo Line at Crenshaw Boulevard to the Green Line near LAX.

The Federal Transit Administration gave final approval for the Crenshaw Line in January.
The line is designed to include a stop at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, two stops in Inglewood and two near LAX. However, it is still unclear whether the line will include a stop at Leimert Park Village, an economic and cultural hub of the Black community in Los Angeles.

At a contentious meeting last year, the MTA board declined to require the station, citing a lack of funding. Instead, the board voted to favor awarding the project’s construction to a contractor who offered to include the station at the approved total project price tag of $1.75 billion.

“President Obama called for an America built to last, and this loan program can help us achieve that,” LaHood said in a statement. “This important investment in the future Metro Crenshaw Line will create jobs in Los Angeles, building a major transportation project that will help the regional economy continue to grow and prosper.”

“The Crenshaw/LAX line is the only project in the region to have received a TIFIA loan,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I fully expect that this infusion of federal funds will enhance the light-rail project in such a way that serves the entire region–speeding passengers to the airport, creating much-needed jobs in the community, and providing both the financial flexibility and stability that will see a station located in Leimert Park Village.”