The Metropolitan Transit Authority awarded the contract toEastside LRT Partners, a locally based group that is also preparingthe project's environmental impact report. The decision instantlyraised conflict-of-interest howls from the losing bidders, whichinclude Southland-based Jacobs Engineering Group and giant Daniel,Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall.

The six-mile line would run from Downtown's Union Station deepinto the Eastside, a densely populated area that is largelycomprised of Hispanics and Asian Americans. Though many Eastsideresidents welcome the plan, others say the money should instead beused to improve bus service.

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