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Los Angeles MTA backs light rail for Crenshaw corridor

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South Los Angeles has won a significant victory as transportation officials recommended this week that a proposed transit corridor along Crenshaw Boulevard be a light-rail line rather than a less expensive dedicated busway, the Times reports.

The recommendation, made by
the Metropolitan Transportation Authority staff, gives a boost to the estimated
$1.7-billion project, which would run from the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw area to
just outside Los Angeles International Airport. Officials want to build the
project with revenues from Measure R, the transportation sales tax that L.A.
County voters approved last year.

Supporters of the Crenshaw
line argue that it would provide a mass transit system to southwest Los
Angeles, Inglewood and surrounding communities that are traditionally
underserved by the county’s rail network.

"Look at the
transportation options that we have now," said Trevor Ware, chief
operating officer of the Los Angeles Urban League. "We have buses on Crenshaw
and we see other neighborhoods that are developing other types of
transportation options. To have a decision made that we will have light rail —
that’s so much faster and will have so much more of an economic impact — we
need that too."

The proposed line would run
about 8 1/2 miles down Crenshaw Boulevard, starting at Exposition Boulevard,
past Leimert Park, shopping centers, through Inglewood and south to a stop near
the airport and a connection with the Green Line.

About 2 1/2 miles of the
project is proposed as a subway, including the section that would run
underneath Leimert Park, said MTA project manager Roderick Diaz.

Los Angeles County
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called the recommendation a "big
victory" and has said he wants to find hundreds of millions of dollars in
additional funding so that more segments, if not all, of the project can be
built as a subway.

The line will "improve
air quality and serve as an economic catalyst," Ridley-Thomas said in a
news release. "This will also provide an efficient, clean mode of
transportation that will connect to Los Angeles International Airport."

Crenshaw line supporters
say that the project can be built using revenue strictly from Measure R. Other
more expensive rail projects being proposed in Los Angeles would also require
federal money, such as the Westside subway, which has a price tag of about $5
billion.

At least one community
advocate, Damien Goodmon said officials need to focus on potential safety
problems on sections of the line that would run near areas with children.

"The section on
Crenshaw Boulevard between 48th and 60th Street will be a rallying point for
our community. The section, which abuts View Park Prep School and is just a
block away from Crenshaw High School is currently only being studied as
street-level with no option for underground. We disagree with this
recommendation by staff," said Goodmon, who is part of the South Los
Angeles Neighborhood Council’s Joint Committee on Rail Transit.

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