- Written by Mark Ridley-Thomas
22 Apr 2011
WE’VE GOT MAIL - Thank you for your in-depth and thoughtful coverage of my motion before the Metro board to protect the Park Mesa Heights neighborhood and include Leimert Park as a stop on the Crenshaw/LAX rail line.
Ken Alpern correctly points out (in CityWatch) that the line “has the potential to create a very large rail transit grid … to serve much of the transit needs of the Mid-City, South Bay and Westside,” that with northward expansion “the ridership could easily top 100,000 riders/day.”
I’d like to assure you, however, that I will not let my motion “set one region of the county (the Mid-City/Crenshaw region) against other regions (the Westside and South Bay),” as you fear.
The entire region would benefit from the reduced travel time of a below-grade train through Park Mesa Heights. That includes passengers on the future Westside subway, which I support and hope as you do that it will be connected to the Crenshaw/LAX line.
I also believe those passengers should have a rail connection to the distinctive cultural destination that is Leimert Park.
While my motion cites Green Line to LAX funds as a possible funding source for an immediate need; I do not see this as a zero-sum equation. I am committed to a rail connection to LAX and am seeking resources to make this happen, including working with Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative John Mica, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Likewise, the Expo Line Measure R funds are also cited in my motion only as a potential source if it makes sense – I am not advocating robbing the Expo line of funds needed for its completion. Transit funding sources are like trains themselves – they move quickly. Furthermore, sometimes a train can be diverted to serve an immediate need, and we can make sure we bring another one along to travel the original course.
To be clear, there are available sources of funds, some examples of which I cited in my motion. While you highlighted only the Measure R sources, I also suggested alternatives such as surplus property sales and possibly reconsidering the Arbor Vitae interchange project.
But these are not the only options – I simply presented them to show I am not calling for an unfunded project. I am confident Metro’s staff, with its depth of expertise, is also capable of finding ways to invest now in the Crenshaw/LAX line. We must do so in order to avoid the much greater –and permanent—cost of an inferior rail line.
As noted in the article, the Crenshaw/LAX line is a regional undertaking and boon to the entire County. You correctly note that I am a consensus builder, and consensus can and should be built around the Crenshaw/LAX line.
(Mark Ridley-Thomas is LA County Supervisor for the 2nd District. Visit his website here.) -cw
Vol 9 Issue 32
Pub: Apr 22, 2011