Metro's Crenshaw Project faces local opposition


It's been a 30-year march to this day. Tuesday marked the groundbreaking on construction for 8.5 miles of light rail that will run from Metro Expo and Green lines, serving the Crenshaw Corridor, Westchester and the area around Los Angeles International Airport.

"You can go virtually everywhere. You can go from jobs, you go to medical centers, culture, entertainment, shopping - it's all connected," said Marc Littman, a spokesman for Metro.

The nearly $2.1-billion project is funded by measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008. Officials say the light rail will not only easy traffic congestion but boost the economy.

"We're not only bringing transportation to the folks, and it takes a little while to get here, but we're also putting people in jobs - not just jobs but careers," said Diane DuBois, Metro's chairwoman.

But not everyone is happy about the new project. The Crenshaw Subway Coalition is concerned with the portion of the light rail that goes through 48th to 59th street, which is Crenshaw's Black Business District.

"By simply extending the tunnel just north of that section just 11 blocks, the problems of the project can be corrected, and this can be a project for the future of the Crenshaw Corridor, and not devastating what it has right now," said Damien Goodmon with the Crenshaw Subway Coalition.

The coalition says the light rail will devastate Crenshaw's Business District and wants the light rail to be underground. However, officials say that would tack on tens of millions of dollars to the project and argue that most of the light rail is already separate from the roadway.

"I've never seen a rail line where there were people who didn't have a different point of view. But we're some-$2 billion later, and the vast majority of this line is underground as it should be, because it is safe," said Mark Ridley-Thomas with the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

The Crenshaw Subway Coalition says they are currently in court pursuing a civil rights and environmental claim. However, this project is still expected to be completed by 2019.

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