President Obama moved to shorten the permitting and environmental review process for 14 national infrastructure projects yesterday, including the planned Crenshaw Line light rail and three other California projects, reports the LA Times. The move will "shorten the approval time for this project by several months," according to a release from the Federal Transit Administration. The Crenshaw Line, which will run from the Expo Line at Exposition and Crenshaw to a station near LAX (and hopefully a People Mover to the terminals, as well as to some Green Line stops, and possibly, one day, extensions north to Wilshire and West Hollywood), just certified its final environmental impact report. LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas says in the Times that yesterday's news makes it more likely that an extra station can be built in the middle of Leimert Park Village--the idea is that moving the construction process along will save millions that can be used elsewhere. That may not be good enough for some community activists, who want the $1.75 billion project to include both a Leimert Park stop and undergrounding of the line in Park Mesa Heights.
The effort to underground the line is being headed up by transit gadfly Damien Goodmon and his group the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. Goodmon fought for the Expo Line to be undergrounded near Dorsey High School; eventually a compromise was reached in which a station was built at Farmdale Avenue, requiring trains to make full stops before crossing the street. Goodmon has said before that he plans to bring litigation if the Crenshaw Line is not put underground in Park Mesa Heights. However, a new California law shortens the amount of time that litigation can delay big projects like the Crenshaw Line.
Perhaps as a way to mollify community activists like Goodmon--and to get some local input--Metro has started a "Community Leadership Council" consisting of neighborhood organizations, business groups, schools, and churches. The groups share ideas/concerns on construction, economic development, and safety, The Source reports.
Early construction on the 8.5-mile long Crenshaw Line is supposed to start next year and wrap sometime between 2016 and 2018.
· Obama Speeds Construction Projects [LA Times]
· Crenshaw Line Archives [Curbed LA]