Stations at Leimert Park Village and at Hindry and Florence avenues near Westchester for the Crenshaw/LAX Line light rail project were funded today by the Metro Board of Directors, ending a two-year long controversy over whether the stops would be built.
The vote was 10 to 1. The motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas included five other co-signers — including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Supervisor/Metro Board Chair Mike Antonovich — meaning supporters only needed to drum up one more vote to secure approval from a majority of the Metro Board.
Voting for were Ridley-Thomas, Villaraigosa, Antonovich, John Fasana, Jose Huizar, Ara Najarian, Pam O'Connor, Don Knabe, Richard Katz and Mel Wilson. The vote against was from Diane DuBois, who expressed concerns about taking reserve fund money from Metro that may be needed later for other purposes.
To read the entire motion, please see this post from earlier today.
The Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to use $55 million in Measure R local return money to help build the two stations — $40 million for Leimert Park Village and $15 million for Hindry.
The motion directs Metro to add another $80 million to that from Metro's general fund for the coming year's fiscal budget. The motion says that it will cost up to $120 million to build the undergroud Leimert Park Village station and $15 million for the street-level Hindry station.
Metro will soon release bids from construction firms that want to build the $1.763-billion Crenshaw/LAX Line. The Metro Board had previously asked those bidding if they could construct the optional stations within the project budget, meaning there was no assurance the stations would definitely be built; it would depend on the bids.
In the meantime, both community and political support for the station has continued to grow. Many community members continued to protest that Leimert Park Village — the traditional center of African American culture in Los Angeles — would not be well served by a station one-half mile to the north at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Crenshaw. There were also complaints, too, that other Metro Rail projects included stations as close — or closer — together.
The Crenshaw/LAX Line is being funded by the Measure R sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 as well as a federal TIFIA loan. The 8.5-mile rail line will run between the Expo Line at Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards and the Green Line, just south of Los Angeles International Airport. The project is currently forecast by Metro staff to open in 2019.
One issue remains unresolved. The Crenshaw Subway Coalition has called for undergrounding the line between 48th and 59th streets, an 11-block section where the train will run at street level through Park Mesa Heights. Putting the line in a tunnel there would cost more $200 million and the Metro Board has thus far not committed to change the project to that extent.