The following letter was sent to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today. It is clear from his actions, he’s treating South L.A. like we’re not even 3/5ths of a “Man.”
An Open Letter to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
What Value Have You Placed on South L.A. Lives?
I must admit that I was somewhat taken by the article in today’s Los Angeles Times, where you call on the elected politicians of the county to “put aside their differences” so that the Wilshire “Subway to the Sea” can be built more quickly (L.A. Mayor Wants to Speed Up Work on Subway to the Sea). At $6-9 BILLION dollars, the Wilshire subway will cost more for just one mile ($500 million), than it would cost MTA to change the Expo Line in South LA from street-level to underground.
By spending our tax dollars to put the Expo Line underground, like the Alameda Corridor trench, the South LA community would be saved from the hazards and adverse impacts of street-level crossings that MTA’s own study shows will result in 52 accidents per year on Expo.
52 ACCIDENTS PER YEAR ON THE EXPO LINE – as many as the worst of years on the deadliest light rail in America, your very own Blue Line, which slices through Compton, Watts, Willowbrook and South LA.
What do you intend to say when those accidents on the Expo Line result in a loss of limb?
…a loss of life?
…the death of a single mother?
…the death of a child?
Children like Lavert Baker Jr. (LA Times: Boy, 14, Killed by Train is Mourned)
Children like Angela Barahona (USA Today: Blue Line Takes a Troubled Route)
Children like Gilberto Reynaga (LA Times: 13-Year-Old Boy Hit, Killed By Blue Line Train).
Unfortunately, Lavert, Angela, and Gilberto are just a few of the over one dozen children among the 94 deaths in the 836 Blue Line accidents that have occurred on your watch.
Do you not cry for Lavert’s father?
Do you not pray for Gilberto’s friends?
Do you not dream what Angela would be doing today if politicians stood up when the Blue Line was being built for what is right, what is wise, what is safe?
Even if you don’t cry, don’t pray and don’t dream, do you not at least fear what will occur to your political life and the city budget if you let the Expo be built at street-level and the first child is killed?
With MTA’s forecast of 52 Expo Line accidents every year, for the next 100 years surely some of them will involve children and some of them will be killed.
Explain to us why that’s okay to you.
Help us understand why you take comfort in ignoring the warnings of international rail safety experts (Meshkati & Quimby), national vehicular causation experts and former MTA light rail operators (Hollins).
Reconcile for us why you have not responded to the over 5000 petitions and letters collected and the requests of dozens of community groups, civil rights organizations, neighborhood councils, School Board members, the UTLA, Parent Collaborative and child advocacy groups requesting you put the funds into Expo so we can avoid those accidents from occurring in South LA.
It can be done. The South LA Grade Separation Project is possible. You have the money. All MTA has to direct it to South LA to extend the trench at Figueroa by U.S.C. to Dorsey H.S. Expo’s own chief engineer estimates it would be a fraction of the cost of the Wilshire subway – less than 5%.
Mr. Villaraigosa, why don’t you believe South L.A. lives are worth 1/20th the value of lives on Wilshire?
Mr. Mayor, you’re not even treating us like 3/5ths of a “person.”
Coordinator, Fix the Expo Rail Line Campaign
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