Ridley-Thomas Offers Motion to Study a Full Crenshaw Blvd Subway

MTA Board Member and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has delivered on the promise conveyed by his transportation deputy at our November 23rd meeting to offer a motion to amend the MTA staff recommendation regarding the design of the Crenshaw Line.

The Mark Ridley-Thomas Park Mesa Heights subway motion, would require the MTA staff to include in their study of the Crenshaw Line an underground segment from 48th to 59th Street. Currently staff has recommended that the section ONLY be studied for street-level operation. The motion, if approved, would require it be studied as underground as well.

Our community MUST be at the MTA Board Meeting on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. in large force to support the Mark Ridley-Thomas Park Mesa Heights subway motion, which will likely be discussed around 10 a.m. (Buses leaving South L.A. at 8 a.m. – RSVP for a seat: 323-761-6435 or crenshaw@fixexpo.org)

If this section is built at street-level the Crenshaw Line would:

  1. Violate the Crenshaw Specific Plan, which prohibits overhead utility lines;
  2. Result in the removal of over 200 parking spaces crucial to the local small business (mostly African-American) economy;
  3. Require the chopping down of the tall mature trees, compromising Crenshaw Blvd’s scenic highway status;
  4. Challenge the Crenshaw community’s economic revitalization efforts; and
  5. Result in numerous at-grade crossings just a block away from Crenshaw High School and St. Johns Evangelist Church and right in front of View Park Prep School, placing children and other members of the public in jeopardy from the hazardous at-grade crossings and worsening traffic.

By studying an underground segment and requiring staff to identify a financial strategy to fund it, the Crenshaw community and MTA would be best positioned to capture the opportunity to build a truly 1st class 21st century rail line on Crenshaw Blvd and avoid the adverse impacts and risks of street-level crossings.

In addition to Mark Ridley-Thomas, lots of credit go to the many community members who showed up at MTA community meetings and wrote in comments to the MTA staff. Our strategic decision to focus comments on this particular section has paid off.Both the staff report and Ridley-Thomas’ motion make note of the large community request for the section to be built underground in addition to the others.

From the MTA staff report:

“A significant number of comments requested a below grade alignment along the entire length of Crenshaw Boulevard between the Exposition Line and the Harbor Subdivision. Specifically, commenters requested a below grade alignment between 48th to 59th Streets related to concerns about traffic impacts, pedestrian safety associated with two schools (one located near a station and one located one block away from Crenshaw Blvd), impacts due to reconfiguration of the street and landscaping, and perceptions of equity.”

The full text of the motion is here (pdf):

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority conducted extensive community outreach to solicit comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor. There was an overwhelming level of community support for further study of a below grade separation through the heart of the Crenshaw Community.

The Locally Preferred Alternative proposed by Metro staff recommends a below grade light rail track alignment north of 48th Street and south of 59th street. However, the track segment between 48th and 59th is proposed at grade.

There may be cost, constructability, safety, environmental and economic development benefits to Metro and to the residents of LA County that can be reached by a below grade connection at this location.

The intent of this amendment to the Locally Preferred Alternative is to have staff perform further study of the cost, constructability, safety, environmental and economic development benefits associated with a below grade rail connection between 48th and 59th streets on Crenshaw Boulevard.

I THEREFORE MOVE, THAT:

  1. The scope of preliminary engineering and environmental review be expanded to consider the cost, constructability, safety, environmental and economic development benefits associated with linking proposed underground segments of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor with a below grade connection between 48th and 59th Streets on Crenshaw Boulevard; and
  2. Metro staff be instructed to develop alternatives, recommendations and a funding strategy for this segment of the connector.

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