Letter 2: From Westwood Gardens Civic Association
On Thursday the Expo Authority voted to have the consultants do an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) on 2 of the 9 routes they had studied–Alternative 1 Expo on the Right of Way and Alternative 2 Expo Venice to Sepulveda. This will determine which of the two routes will>>> be used. It will also determine mitigations; such as should there be any grade separations, if so where and what kind.
Phase2@exporail.net has the materials that were given out at the meetings. (click on Phase 2, then Presentation) You will notice that Alternative 1 has a station between Overland and Westwood in the backyard of homeowners on Ashby. It also shows a station at National/Motor and Sepulveda. With stations so close and the curve in the gully the train will be slow through this area. The report said Venice to Sepulveda was 6 minutes longer. Some feel the time difference will be shorter. The Westside Pavilion is also noted on the route indicating that the station between Ovelrand and Westwood will be a Gateway Station (parking lot at station) rather than a Neighborhood Station.
Venice to the Beach was removed from the study for various reasons one being that it was not wide enough.
Supervisor Yaroslavsky questioned the staff since it once was a trolley route. They said that they would have to remove the landscaping and street parking to do it. No one has mentioned whether the trees we planted on Expo from Westwood to Military would have to be removed, but I guess those trees don’t matter.
The supervisor said he just wanted to make it clear that there is room (my guess is that some where in the future they will put a Bus Rapid Transit on it). He went on to say it really did not matter since the route was always intended to finish in Santa Monica. For those of us who have been involved with this for 20 years remember when Zev had requested a Bus Rapid Transit on Venice to the Beach (think Orange line in the Valley) be included in the study in the eraly 90’s.
If they felt Venice could not support a Light Rail Transit we can only assume that going down Sepulveda would create even more construction and funding problems.
Members of Friends4Expo and Light Rail For Cheviot(www.lightrailforcheviot.org) spoke at the meeting endorsing Expo on the ROW. Light Rail For Cheviot states on its website it is "confident that they can achieve grade separation at Overland" (members of Light Rail For Cheviot have stated several times at different meetings that if there is no grade separation at Overland they would not support Expo on the ROW, let’s hope they mean what they say). The Expo United Community (www.fixexpo.org ) thought there were grade separations that met the guidelines but not included due to cost. One crossing that stands out is at Dorsey High School. There are 4 other schools that are within 100′ of the ROW but only Dorsey High is being reviewed again by the Expo Authority. The Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte (school board representative for that area and Overland School as well) has asked the LAUSD to support grade separation at Dorsey High.
Councilman Herb Wesson’s motion to have the consultants look again at the crossing at Dorsey High was passed on Thursday. Neighbors For Smart Rail spoke on behalf of this motion because our number one concern is safety for every one along ALL transit lines. Friends4Expo and Light Rail For Cheviot representatives did not speak to this motion. Grade separations are expensive and Phase 1 is already 28% over budget. The more money it takes to build Phase 1 the longer until they can begin Phase 2. Is supporting it built the fastest, cheapest way more important than children’s safety?
The Draft EIR is scheduled to be submitted in Spring 2008. We will review it and make recommendations. The Expo Authority will make a decision on which route and the mitigations Summer 2008.
Neighobrs For Smart Rail soon will be asking for volunteers to serve on committees to ensure that this community will be protected even if it means mitigations they cannot afford (such as grade separations, soundwalls etc.). We must make our voices are heard loud and strong to make sure money is not the determining factor. This community will be impacted by the Expo Authority decision for years to come. If they do not have the funds to build it with the needed mitigations, they need to wait to build it untill they can afford to build it right.