The cost of building one of Los Angeles County's rapid transit lines may jump by as much as $276 million, transportation engineers told the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission last week.

Transit officials attributed the increase to delays in assembling complex automated trains, coping with contaminated soil, and finding a suitable route. The cost forecast affects the Green Line, a proposed 26-mile link between Norwalk and El Segundo.

The project's chief engineer asked the commission to approve an immediate $109 million increase in the line's budget. An additional increase of up to $167 million was also requested for this January.

The proposed increases would boost the project's cost by about 40% over its initial budget of $814 million. The project is about 10% complete.

Local transportation officials are concerned about the rising costs, especially because the county has embarked on an ambitious lightrail and subway plan that would create the nation's second-largest rail network. Unanticipated cost overruns could slow implementation of the plan.

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