(Note: If you’re not familiar with the history of the Westchester Station, check out this City Watch article by Westchester Neighborhood Council Member Denny Schneider)
Let’s start with the basics.
The budget for construction of the Crenshaw Light Rail Line is $1.7 billion which will connect the Expo Line to the Green Line and eventually LAX. The budget includes at least six stations. Thanks to a new resolution passed by the Metro Board of Directors,the total number of “approved” stations has ballooned to eight, but the total funding still only guarantees six.
A coalition of community activists, Westside City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and County Supervisor Don Knabe scored a victory yesterday, when the Metro Board of Directors unanimously passed a motion “approving” a station in Westschester for the Crenshaw Light Rail line. The Westchester station would be the farthest west station in the Crenshaw Corridor.
“I am thrilled to see that a Manchester/Aviation station will be included in the construction bids,” commented Rosendahl, who hosted an online petition to the Metro Board asking for the Westchester Station’s inclusion. “Hats off to Supervisor Knabe for his leadership and the Westchester community for their support.”
But for station supporters, the victory could ultimately be a hollow one. Westchester residents were stunned to learn earlier this year that funding for the station was not included in Metro’s final project alternative and scrambeled to get the station included again. Yesterday’s vote makes it possible for the station to be built, but doesn’t guarantee it. While the resolution authorizes the station, it doesn’t require it. Contractors bidding on construction can include the station in their bids, it wouldn certainly make for a stronger bid, but adding the Westchester Station isn’t a requirement to submit a bid.
Further dimming the odds of the station being built, the resolution also required that no bids come in that include Westchester Station that don’t include the Leimert Park Station. In other words, a contractor would have to propose building eight stations with a budget for six stations for the Westchester station to be built.
One thing that is clear with the strange politics of the Metro Board of Directors is that one should never say never. Could an odd coalition spearheaded by Leimert Park representative Mark Ridley-Thomas and Knabe emerge to raise more funds for the Crenshaw Line even though Ridley-Thomas made headlines calling for a County redistricting plan that would have forced Knabe from office over the summer? Absolutely.
But for now, Westchester advocates are breathing a sigh of relief that they’re at least back in the running for a Crenshaw Line Station.
“I am thankful to see our only station was kept alive into the bidding process,” writes Westchester Neighborhood Councilman Denny Schneider. “We have all of the burdens of the train going through the community including the maintenance facility, now we’d like to be able to get onto the train.”