The extension of the Metro Green Line and the Mid-Cities Exposition Line have been the central focus of light rail advocates and legislators on the Westside regarding mass transportation.
But another line that could eventually intersect with both lines has begun to recently garner attention, especially among Westchester residents.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is proposing to construct the Crenshaw Transit Corridor, which could connect with both the Expo and Green lines in a north-south configuration. A possible light rail line would extend west to Sepulveda and La Tijera boulevards in Westchester and eventually connect with the Green Line station at Aviation Boulevard.
Among MTA members, an ongoing discussion that centers on whether the transit corridor should feature a light rail line or a rapid bus line will figure prominently in how Westchester is impacted.
The Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa discussed the proposed rail line at its October meeting, and some of its members say that they only recently learned of the transit authority’s plans for a proposed rail line that could impact roads and businesses in east Westchester.
“We found out about it at our August neighborhood council meeting,” said Denny Schneider, a member of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa. “Metro held four meetings before we found out about how this would impact our community.”
Roderick Diaz, the project manager for the Crenshaw Corridor, said that his agency has been very diligent in informing the public about its plans for the transportation corridor.
“I don’t think that (Westchester residents) were notified any later than our other constituents,” Diaz told The Argonaut. “We have had a very open process from the beginning.”
He conceded that certain neighborhood groups may not have received word of the agency’s meetings as soon as they would have liked, but Diaz and other Metro representatives have since had four meetings in or near Westchester, including one on October 6th with the Westchester Neighbors Association.
Resident Harry Rose attended the meeting, and said he thought that Metro’s presentation was straightforward.
“I think that MTA really wants to work with the community to have a light rail system on the Westside,” Rose, an association member, said.
Some of the options that Schneider and other homeowners near Osage Avenue disagree with are proposals to close Hindry and Florence avenues for a possible maintenance yard or a station, a proposed drop-off station at Hindry and at-grade or ground level crossings.
Schneider says that a number of longtime community businesses would also be uprooted if the station were built at Florence, including the Westchester Playhouse, where the popular theater group, the Kentwood Players, perform.
“That is a major issue for us,” said Schneider.
Diaz confirmed that some of the buildings could be relocated if the Metro board chose to go with a light rail option.
“If the light rail alternative is chosen, there are some businesses in the light industrial area that may need to be relocated,” the project manager acknowledged.
Rose said that he and other residents believe that if the playhouse is relocated, Metro should do everything it can to accommodate the theater group.
“I think that MTA should really look at putting the Kentwood Players somewhere that is close and in a good location where they can still perform,” he said.
Diaz noted that there are two proposed locations for a maintenance facility — in neighboring El Segundo or in Westchester, south of 83rd Street, north of Florence and east of Osage.
The proposed alignment of the light rail is a point of contention for Westchester residents, Schneider said.
“I support the rail line, as does the (neighborhood council),” the council member stated. “It’s not a question of trying to stop MTA from doing something; we just want a solution that doesn’t destroy a community to make it convenient for mass transportation.”
Schneider said he likes the idea of having a light rail that would go all the way to the other parts of the city, including the South Bay.
Diaz mentioned several times during the interview that nothing had been decided in terms of possible light rail alignments, the location of the maintenance yard or whether the mode of transportation will be a rapid bus or light rail line.
“The Metro board of directors has not made any final decisions yet,” Diaz stressed. “We will likely need to do some more concerted planning within the next few months related to where the stations are and what facilities will be included with them. We will also very likely have to do some community engagement as well.”
Rose said that he prefers a light rail train to a bus.
“The light rail line would be better to help residents on the Westside connect quickly with others parts of the city,” he noted.
The Metro Board of Directors will meet in December to discuss the Crenshaw Transit Corridor, and Diaz said at that time the board will likely vote on whether to implement a rapid bus line or the light rail line.
Schneider says that City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office is aware of the residents’ worries regarding Metro’s proposals and has pledged to represent their best interests before the Metro board.
“Councilman Rosendahl has come forward again to protect our community,” he said.
The comment period for the Crenshaw Transit Corridor ends Monday, October 26th.