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Crenshaw/LAX Line: The Next Great LA Train Battle?

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The Crenshaw Line--the mostly grade-separated light-rail which would connect LAX to the Expo Line--is in the midst of final environmental studies, with hopes of breaking ground this year (assuming that whole state bond problem goes away). Metro is deciding on a few issues related to the line at a Thursday Measure R committee meeting, with the full board taking on the matters April 28th--namely, it involves whether to have a station in Leimert Park Village at Crenshaw and Vernon, and also whether to underground a one-mile section of the line in Park Mesa Heights, from 59th to 48th streets. Metro has indicated they're leaning towards running the train on street-level through this stretch, but locals, not surprisingly, want a subway. Community groups like Hyde Park Hope, which advocated for redesigns on the upcoming Crenshaw Fresh & Easy, and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas are gunning for the both the undergrounding of the Park Mesa stretch, as well as a Leimert Park stop.

Sharita Moon, a communications staffer in Ridley-Thomas' office, sent out a memo to media informing them of the supervisor's support for a Leimert Park station and the subway section in Park Mesa Heights. The memo addresses concerns that making a plea for these things could hinder other projects (ostensibly because of cost increases and opening delays), but says that putting the line underground will make the line faster for all riders coming to and from LAX. The notice also says the community has paid the price of having the 10 and 405 freeways cut their neighborhoods, so "demanding a Leimert Park Station stop is seeking neither a favor nor an advantage," but a return for sacrifice endured. *Moon wanted to correct that assertion by saying it's the 10, the 110, and the Imperial Highway that cut through this area.

Neighborhood activist Winnifred Jackson of Hyde Park Hope sent out a missive yesterday advocating the same things, saying the undergrounding would cut down on accidents and would keep street parking on Crenshaw. Though, according to a September report from the Measure R Project Delivery Committee on the Park Mesa grade-separation issue, street parking wouldn't be taken away if the trains ran on Crenshaw.

A few other facts about the possible Park Mesa undergrounding, according to the report:
-The one-mile stretch between 59th and 48th contains seven intersections.
-If the train is put underground, a station at Crenshaw and Slauson would be underground as well (Slauson is between 59th and 48th), but Metro may cut the Slauson subway station to save money.
-Undergrounding the stretch would add $167 million to the $1.4 billion project in 2010 dollars. Also adding the Slauson subway stop would increase the budget by $219 million. Adding these elements could add between two and 16 months to the scheduled opening in 2016.
· Crenshaw Line Gets Funding, Work Starting in 2011 [Curbed LA]
· Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor [Metro]