While transportation meetings on various area rail projects can range from A) informational yet a bit dull to B) hysterical, sometimes involving cowbells -- this weekend's primer on the Crenshaw light-rail project at the Christ the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church was a funky change of pace. Instead of a formal presentation, organizers put out six long tables covered with Google Map-like images of the Leimert Park area, where the LAX to Expo Line-traveling Crenshaw line will traverse. Also on the table: Blocks, miniature buses, and Play-doh. Inspired by the blocks and Legos used by planning guru James Rojas, attendees were encouraged to use the materials to help them decide where they wanted their stop (the Leimert Park station is still optional, but if built will probably be underground), and how they wanted planning to commence around the stops. Metro people then took notes on the suggestions (i.e. more mixed-use on Crenshaw, tearing down of fast food restaurants).
The line will connect to LAX and project manager Roderick Diaz tells us that the decision on how to do that exactly will be made by the airport commission--it will either be a people mover, ala JFK's AirTran, or a rail extension closer to the airport (which will probably require a shuttle to the terminals). Diaz said the airport is planning to begin studying the matter beginning later this season or in the summer. Metro's locally preferred alternatives for the line, including what stations make the cut and where the maintenance facility will be, will be chosen at the end of this year. *Another point made by Diaz was that some Green Line trains would travel to the Crenshaw airport stop; so there would be no transferring required. Basically, the Crenshaw line will fulfill the need for the Green Line extension to the airport.
The entire line, which will have six or seven stations both underground, aerial, and at-grade, is scheduled to open in about eight years. A northern extension connecting to the Wilshire subway is a ways off, Diaz says. The project's head architect, Anil Verma, was pleased with the turn-out at the Saturday event, saying, "I've been working in transportation in LA since 1980 and if you had a meeting like this then, 90% of the people were against [the project]. Not anymore."
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