Metro Board Member and County Supervisor Gloria Molina spared few words in explaining to her colleagues on the Board why she is skeptical about money in the long-range plan being spread around the region in an equitable way.
Her reason: The Eastside Gold Line that is scheduled to open soon. Molina described the line as “sub-standard,” said it should have been built entirely underground as a subway and that she has frequently wrestled with the Metro staff to ensure that safety fixes are made.
She added that the Eastside has repeatedly, in her view, been shortchanged by the Metro Board and also referred to the 1998 county ballot initiative that voters approved and which denied the use of certain sales tax money to be used for subway tunneling.
But most of her frustrations were with Metro staff. “I’m saying it publicly because I don’t trust the [Metro] staff and I don’t trust the MTA,” Molina said. “…Some of the staff only work for some of the members of the Board. How many times should I wait to be shortchanged?”
About four miles of the six-mile line will run on or along streets. Molina is concerned about how the train will avoid pedestrians and vehicles and has been pushing for additional safety measures. In response, the Board (as we posted earlier) dedicated $4.5 million on Thursday to make some fixes, including about two miles of new fencing. Not all the fixes will be in place if the line opens next month, as has been discussed by the agency.
In response to Molina, Metro CEO Art Leahy said that he’s been focusing on safety fixes to the line and that many of the improvements exceed what is required by state law. He also said that the line won’t open until he’s certain it will be safe.
Molina said that the opening date discussed with her is Nov. 15 and that she isn’t sure the line will be ready — especially after receiving a long list of things not yet complete on the line. She said that she was told that those things were fixed earlier this week, but that she couldn’t be sure they were.
An independent safety panel asked to review the line by Metro concluded earlier this fall that the line was safe but suggested some improvements, such as having safety ambassadors deployed along the rail line.