Based on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s final environmental impact statement/report in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Crenshaw/LAX light rail project is now eligible for federal funding.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a record of decision for the Crenshaw/LAX light rail project Dec. 30, which authorizes Metro to move ahead with project implementation, including property acquisitions, utility relocations and the purchase of any rail cars needed for the project. Metro officials said the decision also makes the agency eligible for any federal funding requested for the project.

The 8.5-mile light rail project will run between the Metro Expo Line on Exposition Boulevard and the Metro Green Line. It will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester, and Los Angeles International Airport area with six stations, a maintenance facility, park and ride lots, traction power substations and the acquisition of rail vehicles and maintenance equipment.

“I would like to thank the Obama Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for being great partners on this job-creating project,” Metro Board Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “The Crenshaw/LAX line will not only bring light rail to the residents of South Los Angeles and the LAX area, but it will create thousands of badly needed jobs.

“This is another step forward for a Measure R project, which voters approved in 2008 and will bring Los Angeles the 21st century transit network Angelenos deserve.”

Second District County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also applauded the fact that Crenshaw/LAX can receive financial backing from the federal government.

“The record of decision by the Federal Transit Administration marks a big step forward for the Crenshaw/LAX line,” said Ridley-Thomas, who represents Westchester. “This approval means MTA can proceed in making a $1.7-billion investment in a light rail transit system, the largest in South LA’s history.

“In combination with our targeted hiring effort, this translates into jobs, jobs and more jobs. The Obama Administration should be commended for quickly moving this project forward through the environmental process.”

Metro issued in late December a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a design/build contract, the first step in a procurement process for design/build contractors for the rail line.

The project is scheduled to open in late 2018.