I have been following the saga of the quest of the Crenshaw community for a light rail line since the mid-1990s. During the planning stage overwhelming community consensus was in favor of having a station at MLK Blvd to serve the regional mall at that location. Station spacing standards, regional equity concerns and the high cost of adding an additional station (underground) to a project about to start awarding construction contracts have been the chief impediments to adding a station at Leimert Park. As a champion of Wilshire BRT I am sorry about the $10 million being taken from it. Ditto $48 million from the Airport Connector. But looking long-term as we create a regional network of rail and BRT having a station at Leimert Park will have social and economic benefits both for the Crenshaw Community and the overall region. How can one measure the value that via the Surfliner (Amtrak) and Metrolink folks from places as far flung as Santa Barbara, San Diego, Irvine, Palmdale and San Bernardino will enjoy exploring the wonders of Leimert Park via access the added station will facilitate? So in my view the Leimert Park station was worth making the investment even though it is being done by syphoning money from several other very worthy projects.
The Crenshaw Subway Coalition does not support the staff’s proposed financial plan. It has become clear over the past few weeks that Art Leahy and staff have made several illogical and indefensible decisions that have gotten the project to this point and the financial plan is just the latest. We do not think our friends in the South Bay or Wilshire bus riders should be forced to compensate for the professional incompetence of Art Leahy and his staff.
The staff report admits that three of the four joint ventures seeking the contract submitted Alternative Technical Concepts to build the Park Mesa Heights tunnel, but Leahy didn’t allow the reputable contractors to propose this critical improvement both for the Crenshaw community and regional transportation. We have confirmed that at least one of the ATCs suggested the project could have been built within budget with a Leimert Park station and Park Mesa Heights tunnel. Any assertion by Art Leahy suggesting differently is simply false, and we look forward to our Public Records Act request for the ATCs and their accompanying documentation that reveal just how unreasonable, unsupported and arbitrary Metro staff’s decisions and decision-making process actually were.