June 07, 2012
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Last Monday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas held a news conference to announce the beginning of the advanced utility relocation work for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor light rail project. Also in attendance were Congresswoman Karen Bass, Mayor James Butts of Inglewood and Ken Lombard of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. The press conference was held in the heart of the project, off Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Boulevards, in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall parking lot.
This relocation work is to prepare the area for the Crenshaw Line that will be traversing along the 8.5 mile strip between the Expo Line on Exposition Boulevard along Crenshaw Boulevard, passing through Inglewood and Westchester and ending at the Metro Green Line in the LAX area.
Currently under construction at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards, the project is scheduled to run southward bound with six stations, a maintenance facility, park and ride lots, traction power substations and the acquisition of rail vehicles and maintenance equipment. It will also offer alternative transportation options to congested roadways, economic development and employment opportunities in the South Los Angeles and ‘Crenshaw and Around’ areas.
The mayor, who is also the Metro Board chairman, said, “The Crenshaw/LAX light rail line will provide a vital transportation link for this community and our entire city. By utilizing Metro’s Project Labor Agreement Program for this project, we are getting Angelenos back to work and creating job opportunities for those who need them the most.”
The supervisor, who is also a Metro Board member, said, “The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project will create jobs that are badly needed throughout this region and jobs that are welcome news to individuals within our communities. Over the course of construction on this vital transportation project, thousands of jobs will be created and, thanks to Metro’s Construction Careers Policy and Project Labor Agreement, 40 percent of those jobs created will go to workers who live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, with 10 percent of those jobs going to low-income, chronically unemployed individuals,” said Ridley-Thomas.
And Congresswoman Bass said, “The Crenshaw /LAX Transit Corridor project has the potential to transform the South L.A. community and improve the lives of residents. In fact, the transit corridor project will provide jobs and community revitalization opportunities to the historically underserved portion of L.A. County for residents of Los Angeles County. And I’m very proud to stand here with leadership in our city as well as representatives of the workforce who will make this project real for our community.”
However, in addition to the community having an involvement in the project, including jobs for the residents in the region, there have been some bumps in the road relative to the area’s economy and needs of the community and that have not been totally resolved as of yet: The Leimert Park Station is the most prominent example.
All the elected officials in the area — Congressional representatives Maxine Waters and Bas — have been leading the charge in Congress for funding for the Leimert Park Station. On the local level, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Council president Herb Wesson and Councilmember Bernard Parks have been vocal in their support for the station/stop; so has Assembly-member Holly Mitchell, at the state level.
The community will be holding the elected officials accountable to see that the area residents play a substantial role in the construction of the Crenshaw Line, scheduled to pass through the heart of the African American Crenshaw and Inglewood communities.