Donning hard hats, shovels in hand and bulldozers behind them, federal, state and local officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, an 8.5-mile light-rail line that will run between the Metro Expo and Green lines. The $2.058-billion project is expected to open in 2019 and will bring a train stop closer to Los Angeles International Airport.

The event, which brought together U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and California Senator Barbara Boxer in addition to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Eric Garcetti and several other elected officials, was held at the intersection of Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, where the first of the project’s three underground stations will be built.

“We have reached a milestone in this project that has been a long time coming,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who has championed the line since his days as a Los Angeles City councilman in the 1990s. “This has been a 30-year dream in the making, and I look forward to boarding this train in 2019 along with all the other Angelenos who have helped make this a reality.”

“Thousands of hard-working families and seniors living in Crenshaw depend on public transportation every day to get to work, to school, and to obtain medical care,” said Secretary Foxx. “Bringing light rail to this community will create jobs, spur local economic development and make it easier than ever for residents to access downtown Los Angeles and beyond.”

The project is the first rail line to serve Crenshaw Boulevard and the city of Inglewood since the streetcars of the Los Angeles Rail Line (known as the “Yellow Cars”) stopped running in 1955.

“The Crenshaw Line will provide a crucial transportation link, create over 18,000 jobs, help connect communities, reduce air pollution, and provide economic development and economic opportunities,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The groundbreaking event comes after more than 30 years of discussion and planning, organizing and advocating from many community leaders who longed to see a rail line along South Los Angeles. The Crenshaw-to-LAX rail line is expected to significantly revitalize a corridor that includes landmarks such as Hollywood Park, the Forum, West Angeles Church of God in Christ, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Leimert Park Village.

Equally important, it will help ease traffic congestion and decrease air pollution by reducing vehicle emissions. More than 55 percent of the Crenshaw-to-LAX line is either underground or above the street level, more than any other light rail line in Los Angeles County.