The Metro Board of Directors voted Thursday to add an underground station in the heart of Leimert Park Village as part of the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line — but on one big condition. The station would only be built if funds, estimated at about $131 million, can be secured.
The money could potentially come from a variety of sources, the most likely being lowered construction costs. In essence, the Board agreed that the project must stay within a budget of $1.715 billion with or without a Leimert Park Village station at Vernon Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.
The 9 to 3 vote for an amendment by Board Member Richard Katz ended a five-hour debate on an issue prompted originally by a motion by County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas — a member of the Metro Board — that sought the new station.
Ironically, Ridley-Thomas ended up voting against the motion, saying he wanted stronger language to ensure the station gets built. “We know what we need to do to move forward to ensure we have a credible project at the end of the day,” an obviously disappointed Ridley-Thomas told the audience after the votes. Board Members Mike Antonovich and John Fasana also voted against the motion.
In particular, the Board asked that the station be included when construction firms bid to build the project. The hope is that the winning bid can find a way to get the station done within the project’s budget — or, at the very least, an underground box where a station can be added at a later date.
If neither is possible, the motion recommends that a street level station be built at 48th Street — two blocks south of Vernon — and that non-Metro funding be found to build it.