A recent recommendation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) involving a light rail maintenance facility that could have been located in Westchester is being challenged by its neighbor to the south.

El Segundo Mayor Kelly McDowell told reporters on November 14th that his city is willing to fight Metro’s plans to build a 5,000-square foot maintenance yard in the city for the Crenshaw Corridor.

“I am confident that I’ll have the full support of my colleagues should litigation be necessary,” McDowell said.

Earlier this month, the transit agency announced that it had chosen a light rail alignment for the transit corridor, which will begin in South Los Angeles near the Crenshaw District and have at least one station in Westchester.

Metro had proposed two possible locations for a light rail maintenance yard to service the cars on the mass transit line, Westchester or El Segundo.

At a recent meeting, the Metro Planning and Programming Committee approved the recommendation to build the maintenance yard, which will service the light rail cars, in El Segundo.

Roderick Diaz, project manager for the Crenshaw Corridor, said during a conference call earlier this month that the authority had decided tentatively on the latter city.

“We’ve decided to move forward with the El Segundo option,” Diaz said. “We are likely not going to proceed with the Westchester option.”

Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who recently joined McDowell at a Proposition O water bond project near the El Segundo border, credited county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Metro officials for advancing the Crenshaw Corridor, which is planned to connect with the Green Line at Aviation and Century boulevards in Westchester.

“They have all been extraordinarily effective in moving this forward,” Rosendahl said. “I’m very excited about the Crenshaw Line.”

The councilman was equally as adamant as McDowell was for El Segundo in resisting having the light rail yard in Westchester, which transportation officials acknowledged would have forced some of east Westchester’s businesses to be relocated, including the Westchester Playhouse.

“My constituents have been very proactive in trying to keep the maintenance yard out of Westchester, and I am strongly committed to it not going there,” he said.

In interviews with The Daily Breeze shortly after the decision was announced, McDowell expressed his dissatisfaction with Metro’s tentative choice for the facility, stating that his city has a plethora of industrial buildings.

“We’ve got two power plants, a giant sewage treatment plant, and we’re next door to an airport,” the El Segundo mayor asserted. “It’s time for government agencies and others to stop dumping these awful uses into the City of El Segundo. We have done our part.”

Diaz said that the location of the maintenance facility and the station alignments are subject to the approval of Metro’s Board of Directors, which is scheduled to vote Friday, December 18th.

“We have not reached any firm decisions yet,” he cautioned.

The land Metro has penciled in for the rail yard lies northeast of Rosecrans Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard. It also happens to be the site of a future commercial development.

The placement of a light rail maintenance yard for mass transit lines can be controversial. In Santa Monica, residents of the Stewart Park and Pico neighborhoods have protested Metro’s recommendation to build such a facility near the right-of-way in the eastern part of Santa Monica. They say that they are already surrounded by the 10 Freeway and other industrial companies.

McDowell did not mince words regarding possible litigation to keep the light rail yard out of his city.

“El Segundo is not afraid of environmental litigation, and anyone doubting that can take a look at our record concerning the airport,” McDowell said. “This is the reason that there is no blinking at the City Council level about opposing MTA and this project.”

Diaz reiterated that the final decision would be made next month.

“We have made no decisions as to the location of the light rail maintenance and service facility,” the project manager stated. “We will have a full and open process to evaluate sites (including additional sites) in the next phase of the environmental review.”

Metro officials declined to respond to McDowell’s comments regarding possible litigation.

Rosendahl said he hopes that the maintenance yard site can be resolved without litigation.

“El Segundo has been a great partner on (Los Angeles International Airport) issues, but we are committed to not having the building in Westchester, and I hope that they can appreciate that,” Rosendahl said. “I am strongly committed to (the light rail yard) not going to Westchester.”

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