Officials are hoping that a recent $15 million grant from the Department of Transportation can transform one of the city’s most blighted areas into a modern space equally safe and accessible for cycling and walking.

The Slauson Corridor in South LA sits within the city’s old manufacturing district, and for about 50 years since the big firms left the area, this stretch—which is bordered on one side by railroad tracks and on the other by long-neglected buildings—has been an eyesore not only for motorists, but most certainly for residents.

But that’s about to change. The grant will go toward what is called the “Rail to Rail Project” overseen by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They plan on converting the 6.4-mile railroad corridor beginning near the Florence/Graham district into a bike and pedestrian trail, there linking the Blue, Crenshaw/LAX and Silver lines. The ultimate goal is to extend the corridor as far as the Los Angeles River in South Gate under yet another plan called “Rail to River.”

The Rail to Rail project received the grant under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Act because it achieves the goals of “… helping communities coordinate innovative, multi-modal transportation project(s) that serve the diverse needs of residents and businesses.” Officials say that from the intersection of Slauson and Compton avenues to Crenshaw Boulevard just north of Florence Avenue the railroad tracks will be replaced with riding and walking paths as part of the project.

About 108,000 people reside in the area, reportedly more than six times the county average. More than 20 percent of the households within a half-mile of the project do not own a car; 17 percent of employed persons in the area reportedly travel to work via public transit, by bicycle or simply walk.

“I want to thank the Obama administration for sharing Metro’s vision that this blighted right-of-way can and must be transformed into a corridor where walking and biking can be done safely,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who also chairs the Metro board. “With this investment, Angelenos will be able to efficiently access the Blue Line and the future Crenshaw/LAX line. The proposed improvements will make a meaningful difference in the quality of life of the hundreds of thousands of people who live, work and visit the surrounding areas.”

The grant will cover about half of the reported $34.3 million cost of Rail to Rail. Metro expects to obtain the remaining $19.3 million via local and state funds.

The project drew praise from Sen. Diane Feinstein: “Whether ports, roads or rail, California’s economic health relies on modern and efficient infrastructure. That’s why I’m thrilled the DOT has once again decided to invest in highly worthy projects to expand transportation options for Californians.”