CPUC Decision: Ped. Bridge for Farmdale but not for Foshay

2_2_09_resizr.jpgToday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) finally released its twice delayed, two-years in the making, decision regarding whether or not to allow Phase I of the Expo Line be constructed at grade past Dorsey High School and the Foshay Learning Center.  The ruling clears the way for Phase I of the Expo project to be completed by 2010.

The result?  The five person CPUC panel backed an Alternative Decision written by Commissioner Chong which still requires a pedestrian bridge at the Farmdale crossing near Dorsey High School but only relieves the Construction Authority from building a crossing at the Foshay Learning Center.  The ruling should allow for a speedier construction of Phase I of the Expo Line than if they had went with the original suggestion to build pedestrian bridges at both locations.  However, they still need to come up with several million dollars to build the pedestrian bridge for Farmdale.

A second alternative was offered by Commissioner Timothy Simon which
would have required the bridge for Dorsey High School, but denied the
permit to build near the Foshay Learning Center until a new study could
be completed on the pedestrian access to and from the Learning Center
after Expo is built.  Simon even channeled some of the opposition
calling the process that has led to the removal of pedestrian concerns
for Foshay an example of why minority communities don’t have faith in
the public process.

A CPUC judge ruled previously that the Expo Construction Authority had
to build pedestrian bridges at both Dorsey High School and the Foshay
Learning Center but his ruling is considered only a "suggestion" until
the panel made its final ruling this morning.

The decision was blasted before it was even issued.  The Los Angeles Unified School District, a longtime opponent of the line released a letter slamming the decision making process as "closed door."  Expo Communities United (ECU), the group with which Damien Goodmon is most closely affiliated, released a letter supporting the LAUSD’s position.  After the ruling, Goodmon told Streetsblog:

…I find it unfortunate that the Commission adopted such a legally
flawed Decision.  There are more legal holes in the Chong Alternative
Decision, than a pound of swiss cheese.  Furthermore, the process which
led to the Decision will clearly earn concern any actual judge. 

Nonetheless, we look forward to participating in the now mandatory
environmental review process, regarding which of the grade separated
options at Farmdale will be adopted.  Unlike the previous environmental
review process, the community enters the process with adequate legal
representation.

Additionally, we now more firmly recognize that the only changes
that will occur at Foshay or at other crossings along the line, will
need to be obtained politically or through other legal courts.

Buried in the text of CPUC’s ruling is a summary of the public comment.  The document admits that nearly 90% of the comments it received were either against at-grade crossings or against Expo altogether.  The early reactions to this decision seem to show that these opponents are not satisfied with either the process or result of the CPUC hearings. 

So the question remains, is this the final hurdle before Construction on Phase I of the Expo project can be completed, or is it just another stop on Expo’s bumpy ride.

  • C. Phylis

    Wow! We just get a train but Damien Goodmon gets a bridge erected in his name.

  • Fallopia Simms

    Couldn’t have said it better myself:

    Hopefully the Cheviot Hills folks will finally understand manipulation of public processes to kill the project will not work. This foreseen outcome will at least allow the project to continue apace in a reasonable timeframe.

    I’d ask if the “community activists” who demanded grade separation etc. allegedly for the sake of child safety will now work to lobby local and state officials for the extra funds to build the bridge responding to their concerns. But frankly I expect they’ll be AWOL and we activists they so often sneered at, impugned etc. will end up doing that heavy lifting.
    They may try to claim the ruling is a victory but this is in fact a huge defeat.

    Posted by: Dana Gabbard | February 20, 2009 at 03:17 PM

  • Why is it such a terrible burden to respect the concerns of a community?

    Goodmon wouldn’t be nearly as successful if it weren’t for science, facts, and reason being so firmly on his side.

    Can we just admit that at-grade at these intersections is more dangerous than other options? I don’t like grade separation because it slows time this project will be finished and adds cost, but it does make trains faster and safer.

  • FixHighways

    What is it there to admit? At-grade at intersections are fine and are no different here than any other crossing. Harvard from the sound of it already had a ped tunnel and one block away there’s a station on the median. However if this has anything to do with saftey then LAUSD and the community would be ok with the decision.

    Seriously, let’s really think about the kids’ safety when they cross the street and grade separate every road near all schools. That should be the campaign we should all be pushing for!

  • Alright, FixHighways, have it your way.

  • Sounds like a compromise to me. The activists wanted both school crossings grade separated, the construction authority wanted neither, the courts now mandate that one out of the two is built.

    *shrug*

    alright, well I suppose now we can find other things to argue about.

  • Just to clarify the only thing approved Friday was the crossing by Foshay Learning Center at Harvard Ave.

    The Farmdale at-grade application was denied, and now MTA must enter into an environmental review stage to consider the legality and feasibility of the three grade separated options:

    -train undercrossing
    -train overcrossing
    -street-closure with a pedestrian bridge

    Umberto,

    You’re not dealing with people who can or want to be convinced by facts, science or experts.

    The stats, the studies and the statements of experts is all on FixExpo.org and I refuse to believe people who spend so much time online talking trains haven’t combed over most of the site. So at the end of the day some are just deniers, and some are just extensions of Metro’s P.R. department, deliberately disseminating info to their foot-soldiers that they know is wrong. Stuff like “at-grade is just as safe as grade separated,” “crossing gates are down 25 seconds,” “Balloona Creek is in South LA,” and Culver City only got their grade separations because it complied with Metro’s Grade Crossing Policy.

    But that all pales in comparison to the truly core-to-the-bone racist comments you can read in some of these forums (though not Streetsblog) about Dorsey HS and my community in general.

    People get a bit crazy when you start messing with their ’50s nostalgia/Red Car train memories.

    Regarding your other statement, I understand your concerns about delay and additional capital cost, and I’m sure you understand how the community believes a few months or year delay is far superior to enduring the negative impacts of this project for the next 100 years.

    And given the discrepancy in resources allotted to our community on this project specifically, and to South LA in general, we have absolutely no sympathy to the argument that we should be short-changed, especially in light of the actual costs of lost life and limb. We look at the true cost both of life-and-limb, and over the 100-year of this project, not just the up-front cost.

    But people can respectfully agree to disagree about this issue. When this debate began on the blogs/message boards over a year ago I didn’t expect everyone would agree with Fix Expo. However, I very naively overestimated the sanity of some of the FRNs.

  • Facts, not name-calling, shall we? The CPUC decision was clear in finding only a pedestrian bridge practicable for grade separation at Farmdale:

    “We find it is practicable to construct a grade-separated pedestrian bridge and close the roadway to traffic at Farmdale Avenue, because the grade- separated pedestrian bridge will eliminate the potential safety hazards of large number of school age pedestrians crossing the road at-grade. Further, we find that closing Farmdale Avenue will not cause adverse unmitigable impacts and is therefore feasible. We also find that the cost of constructing the pedestrian bridge (closed at Farmdale) is cost-effective.”

    Conversely:

    “Constructing the rail line below ground level (tunnel or trench) is not practicable for engineering reasons, cost reasons, and project delay time.”

    “The additional cost of a train flyover, $28 million, also is of concern when compared to the additional cost of the pedestrian bridge with Farmdale closed, at $9 million, as both of these options would provide the same level of safety, and complete separation with respect to the interface of the trains with vehicles and pedestrians.”

    And the CPUC will lead the environmental review:

    “In this regard, and in order to expedite any future environmental review, the Commission will, as the responsible agency under CEQA, act in a lead role with respect to conducting the environmental review in any future application for a crossing at Farmdale Avenue that involve either a Supplemental EIR or an Addendum to the existing EIR.”

  • Mr. Clarke:

    You’re not dealing with your minions here. The people here know the EIR process will require consideration of a great many things not limited to the focus of possible interface of person-rail.

    Mr. Clarke and FRNS: Check.

  • On the subject of facts, “Balloona [sic] Creek is in South LA,” see http://latimes.com/mappingla for a map of neighborhood boundaries. Ballona Creek, of course, is the city limit between Los Angeles and Culver City.

    Their maps put the Expo Line phase 1 in the Exposition Park neighborhood from Flower and Jefferson to just east of Arlington, then as the border between Leimert Park to the south and Jefferson Park to the north, and finally in the Crenshaw neighborhood from Crenshaw Blvd. to Ballona Creek.

    On the subject of EIRs, feel free to underestimate the professionals of the CPUC CEQA analysis team.

  • FixHighways

    “But people can respectfully agree to disagree about this issue. When this debate began on the blogs/message boards over a year ago I didn’t expect everyone would agree with Fix Expo. However, I very naively overestimated the sanity of some of the FRNs.”

    It’s funny that you posted all these messages on other peoples discussion boards but refuse to let comments on your own blog. What gives? If people can respectfully agree to disagree why not have the discussion on your FixExpo.org site?

  • “Balloona Creek is in South LA.” LOL!

    Darrell’s so confident about it – he’s repeating it publicly.

    Can you tell us now more about how at-grade is just as safe as grade separated rail?

    FixHighways,

    Shoot an email to Steve Hymon or Damien Newton and ask them how much time they’ve had to spend moderating comments on their blogs regarding this issue alone.

    Or better yet venture over to one of the unmoderated forums like Curbed LA and read some of the previous posts.

    I’ve got better things to do with my time than monitor a blog cleaning up the comments of grown adults acting like children and issuing countless racist slurs.

  • Documented facts are there is more than twice the length of Expo Line grade separation in Los Angeles (east of Ballona Creek) than in Culver City (west of Ballona Creek) – map – and the 2000 Census Block Groups closest to the line in both sections are majority-minority.

  • Damien,

    You would think documenting all those slurs would actually help your case proving that racism. But you’re right you’re a busy man and you don’t have time to actually comment on why you don’t allow posts on your own blog so you switch the topic.

    But you do have time to make slurs and condescending comments to others on their boards? The classic race card baiting. FRN is kind of an irony because in order for you to use it that would admit that you work for Metro in their rail department.

  • A couple of things.

    1) I almost never moderate comments on these boards. The only times I do is when I get a complaint about a personal attack and I cannot verify the truth of the statement (i.e. if someone were to say that Poster X broke into their house and kicked their dog) or obvious spam (i.e. comment is way off topic for no apparent reason, is complete gibberish or is a double post). So for the most part, this is an un-moderated forum. That being said, everytime I had to moderate a comment for content, it was on Expo.

    2) I’ve never quite understood how Darell Clarke is such a lightning rod for criticism. I’ve always found him to be a knowledgeable and compassionate supporter of transit expansion, yet he is often portrayed as either a Mayberry Machiavelli or outright in the tank for Metro.

    3) I have read some really outrageous stuff about Dorsey High students, and even once heard a Metro Board member, now retired, make jokes about how students in other communities are smart enough not to walk on train tracks, implying that the Dorsey ones could? I was actually sitting a few seats away from DG at that meeting and we both looked at each other like, “did we really just hear that?”

  • Yeesh, what a mess of bad feelings this topic has become (the Expo topic in general, not just this particular thread).

    Can’t we all step back and agree that:

    1.) yes, grade separation is safer than at-grade.
    2.) yes, grade separation costs more than at-grade.
    3.) yes, the judges have ruled and now the construction can move forward.

    In 2 years when we are riding on the finished Expo line (phase 1) are we really going to still have bad tastes in our mouths from this fight over weather or not to grade separate the line by these two schools?

    Time to move on, people.

  • You would think documenting all those slurs would actually help your case proving that racism.

    Prove what case, and to whom? An anonymous person posting on a blog?

    I’m always amused by the people who email or post in essense: “I don’t believe a word you say and until you spend the next 60 minutes PROVING what you say, you’re an admitted liar and have no right to say what you do.”

    Seriously, what do people think this is – a request by a teenager to take the car out and stay an hour past curfew?

    It’s an interesting psychological phenomenon. Just the thought that I, or anyone else for that matter, would spend time explaining anything to someone who hasn’t even spent 10 mins bringing themselves up to speed on the over 2 years of work that’s readily available on the website is…perplexing.

    Newton:

    And remember that comment from Yvonne Burke came just minutes after I admonished the MTA board for making no mention of the two people who had been killed that week on the Blue Line. There was an actual gasp in the room when she said it.

    I think most people’s issue with Darrell is that Friends 4 Expo is just blatantly dishonest about a lot of stuff.

    Take for example the Block Group data. He was told by people who live in the area that the demographic make-up then and now is majority Caucasian. He was told that folk that have market studies on the demographic makeup that it is majority Caucasian. He’s been told the block group data is inaccurate and given pretty conclusive evidence to that effect.

    Does that stop him from delivering his company line? No. And this is regarding data, imagine what it’s like discussing something that’s subject to interpretation.

    And even after he finally gets to admitting he’s wrong, after a while he goes right back to spinning the same line he was delivering before.

    Take for example tonight. At the Phase 2 DEIR hearing in Cheviot Hills, everyone’s getting up and talking about the safety hazards of at-grade rail and he got up and delivered the Metro line: “the Gold Line has proven that at-grade light rail is safe.” (Incidentally, I wonder how well that talking point is going to be a few years from now after the Gold Line Eastside Extension opens and results in lots of accidents.)

    It’s been explained to him by me and others how:
    a) there have actually been some horrific accidents on the Gold Line; and
    b) the majority of the Expo line isn’t designed to operate anything like the Pasadena Gold Line

    These explanations/rebuttals are all over the place. So finally one day he admitted that the bulk of the line on Phase 1 is like these portions of the street-running portions of the Blue Line. Yet there he was today, “The Gold Line has proven at-grade rail is safe.”

    This is how these guys operate. My guess is it’s an ends-justify-means/we have to kick the rail haters butt type thing.

    The same dozen to two dozen people flood every Expo Line discussion board/posting with the same half-truths or outright lies that have been disproved, with the goal of having repetition of lies and spin overcome facts, data and in many cases common sense. Maybe I’ve just spent too much time in politics, because I can smell these tactics from a mile away.

    It’s Metro’s job to tell us B.S. They’re paid a load of money to tell us B.S. But regular folk that aren’t getting Metro paychecks…what gives?

    Transit advocates who want this line at-grade should be making arguments like Umberto. It’s an honest position. I disagree with him, I can debate with him about it and disagree with him, but in the course of the debate if it’s been explained to him that Expo is not like the Pasadena Gold Line a thousand and one ways, I trust he will accept that argument.

    Ignorance is one thing. Indeed if Darrell and some of the others weren’t men capable of understanding complex arguments some of this would be understandable. But that’s not the case.

    Again, maybe I’ve just spent too much time in politics that I can smell these tactics from a mile away. There was way too much truth in Ken Alpern’s statement which can be found on the Transit Coalition message board that “we give Metro the grassroots political cover to do what they want.”

    Sorry, I’m not here to be a pawn in Metro’s game, in the process screwing over communities and allowing them to continue their reckless planning and operation. I’m not going to come to these forums to give the people most interested and passionate about mass transit excuses for why not to be critical of Metro. Democracy fails when people STOP being critical and refuse to speak out about the stuff that matters most.

    People need to demand more. More accountability. More transparency. More efficiency. More sanity in all that they do.

    I spend my free time doing this instead of many other things I could be doing because I’d like to see better transportation, better communities, and specifically on Expo a better project. Being anyone’s pawn is so beneath any citizen in a free country.

  • They should make the Farmdale crossing above-ground, because Damien Goodmon just raised the roof.

    The guy is like L.A.’s version of Chuck Norris – he can lead a horse to water AND he can make it drink.

  • Umberto,

    Are you calling the South LA constituents horses? That’s racist and immflamatory! (Laughs)

    Damien,

    “It’s been explained to him by me and others how:
    a) there have actually been some horrific accidents on the Gold Line; and
    b) the majority of the Expo line isn’t designed to operate anything like the Pasadena Gold Line”

    Horrific as in any pedestrians getting killed? So far there have been no pedestrian fatailites on the Gold Line which is the newest Light Rail design with quad gates, pedestrian gates, more flashing “Train” signs, which sounds like the core of your argument and fixing Expo, though Expo will contain the very elements.

    If it’s horrific that drivers getting hit by the vehicles by getting on the right-of-way because they want to beat the train and disobey traffic rules. Then I wouldn’t call it horrific as it is sad because some want to get bailed out by not following the rules.

    “Prove what case, and to whom? An anonymous person posting on a blog?”

    I thought it was about racism and the tactics of racism. Not to explain to every person what you’re doing but show that within the post by someone else is the racism and the name calling. All that you’ve done is change the subject and accuse others of doing things you’re doing yourself, you’re just shouting in a louder voice but what is said within that voice rings hollow.

    “Transit advocates who want this line at-grade should be making arguments like Umberto. It’s an honest position. I disagree with him, I can debate with him about it and disagree with him, but in the course of the debate if it’s been explained to him that Expo is not like the Pasadena Gold Line a thousand and one ways, I trust he will accept that argument.”

    From looking this up online which lead me to this website it seems like so far he’s the only one that has openly agreed with you to a point. I remember reading from Curbed LA that he likes the Mission Station in South Pasadena because of how the at-grade design is integrated into the neighborhood. Anyone else who’ve disagreed with you are belittled to name calling simply because they don’t agree with you.

  • I will take Mr. Goodmon’s silence on facts cited as concession that (1) the Expo Line east of Ballona Creek is indeed in Los Angeles; (2) it does contain over twice the length of grade separations as Culver City; and (3) its gated crossings west of Western Avenue are like the Pasadena Gold Line’s.

    Perhaps the demographics have changed in east Culver City since the 2000 Census, but (1) there has been no data presented beyond anecdotal; and (2) the Expo Line decisions date back to nearly 2000.

    On this subject, does Mr. Goodmon favor or oppose the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association seeking “an underground alignment between Overland and Sepulveda” for that affluent white neighborhood, a configuration that minority neighborhoods along phase 1 did not receive?

  • Me:
    “And even after he finally gets to admitting he’s wrong, after a while he goes right back to spinning the same line he was delivering before.”

    Darrell, thank you for making my point. The point of the http://www.FixExpo.org website is to debunk the claptrap so I wouldn’t need to repeat it constantly – as I found myself doing on the Transit Coalition message board. I can tell from FixHighway’s comments he hasn’t spent much time there:

    “Horrific as in any pedestrians getting killed? So far there have been no pedestrian fatailites on the Gold Line which is the newest Light Rail design with quad gates, pedestrian gates, more flashing “Train” signs, which sounds like the core of your argument and fixing Expo, though Expo will contain the very elements.”

    Wrong.

    “If it’s horrific that drivers getting hit by the vehicles by getting on the right-of-way because they want to beat the train and disobey traffic rules. Then I wouldn’t call it horrific as it is sad because some want to get bailed out by not following the rules.”

    Federal Railroad Administration: “A person is 30 times more likely to die in an accident with a train than a car.”

    “The Blue Line is the deadliest light rail line in the country.” “You have to add up the number of deaths on the 6 largest light rail systems in the country to equal the number on the Blue Line.”

    Hmm…wonder why that is. Forgive me and a great many professionals that have looked at this and failed to believe it’s just the people who are to blame and not the design or planners/operators.

    “Not to explain to every person what you’re doing but show that within the post by someone else is the racism and the name calling.”

    People, see what I mean?

    In post #12 I point the horse to water, where he can drink it, but darn it it won’t lean over. :-)

    In post #13 one of the references I directed him to in #12 further explains what I said previously.

    Yet still I’m supposed to do the guys homework for him. Like I said above, it’s this psychological phenomenon I mentioned above: “I don’t believe a word you say and until you spend the next 60 minutes PROVING what you say, you’re an admitted liar and have no right to say what you do.”

    Allow me to be brutally frank: it does not matter to me whether you believe it or not; you’re just not that important.

    From looking this up online which lead me to this website it seems like so far he’s the only one that has openly agreed with you to a point.

    Wrong.

    Anyone else who’ve disagreed with you are belittled to name calling simply because they don’t agree with you.

    Some my feel belittled. I guess I may have a tendancy to ignore or dismiss people who fail to spend a second of their time reading that which I’ve spent enormous time and energy spelling it out in previous post, which are everywhere, and on the FixExpo.org website. It’s like showing up to a book club meeting without having read your chapter. Forgive me for lacking the desire to read the book and do people’s homework for them and walk it into the teacher…over and over and over again.

    It was someone who said maybe 6 months ago, “Everything you’re asking Damien has answered on the FixExpo.org website.”

    And Darrell: Check.
    :-)

  • One notes neither rebuttal nor even an answer to a simple question.

    BTW, the Federal Railroad Administration regulates railroads, not urban transit lines.

  • Damien,

    Another diversion tactic. How do you know how much I’ve read or not?

    Because I’ve come to a conclusion based on the information I’ve read and the debates that have been stated here and other boards. Just because I’m not hashing out every single detail and or writing extremely long and inconsistent novellas to explain something that will require a few sentences.

    Maybe the book club presenter has a thin skin and doesn’t realize that the readers already know the text and are ready for something more because it wasn’t as deep as the author is making out to be.

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