Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says a $500 million federal loan has pushed forward his initiative to build 12 transit projects in less than half the time expected. At the center of that effort is a light rail line planned for South L.A.'s Crenshaw district.
Two years ago, Angelenos passed Measure R — a half cent sales tax that aims to raise $40 billion for public transportation. Mayor Villaraigosa convinced Washington to accept the future proceeds from that tax as collateral for more than $500 million, long-term bonds and other federal money.
That's now paved the way for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build a dozen transit projects in 10 years instead of 30 — hence, the mayor's 30/10 initiative.
Villaraigosa joined other elected officials at a rally in Leimert Park to promote the plan — and celebrate future construction of the Crenshaw transit corridor project.
"We can do this by leveraging local tax dollars, by engaging with our congressional delegation and our partners in Washington," Villaraigosa said. "By thinking strategically, we could build all those projects in 10 years, create jobs now — and by the way, 166,000 jobs now and in the next 10 years."
Trains along the Crenshaw-LAX rail line will run 8 1/2 miles between Exposition and Crenshaw Boulevards and the Metro Green Line. The project will cost more than $1 billion. Preliminary engineering will soon begin, officials said.
Some community activists like Damien Goodmon are concerned that Metro plans to run trains at street level, across a mile long stretch of Crenshaw. He said that poses a danger to students who walk to schools nearby.
"One of them is right in front of View Park Prep school," warned Goodmon. "That's Slauson. Slauson's a major intersection. It's backed up in both directions. Another is just a block away from Crenshaw High School. And then you've got loads of day care centers and other charter schools that are in close proximity. Crenshaw Boulevard is a major traffic street."
Goodmon says he and other activists successful convinced Metro to operate trains underground for two of the three miles along Crenshaw. They want the last mile underground, too.
Transit workers could break ground on the Crenshaw Corridor light rail line late next year.