RUNNING SINCE 2008

CPUC Rejects MTA’s Dorsey Crossing!

Posted by Fix Expo Team On February - 22 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

On Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission REJECTED MTA’s proposal to build the at-grade holding pen contraption at Farmdale Avenue right next to Dorsey High School.

From the Decision:

“[The MTA/Expo Line Construction Authority's] application for an at-grade rail crossing at Farmdale Avenue in the City of Los Angeles is denied.”

This is the biggest victory yet for the community, school district, parents, teachers and rail safety advocates, in our long fight for more grade separation on the Expo Line Phase 1, and against the unsafe, unequal, primarily street-level rail line in South LA.

We came together and fought back the MTA and particular Westside interest groups and politicians, who have treated our community like nothing but a go-between and failed to show any concern for our well-being, not even the safety of our children.

But now the question is, “WHAT’S NEXT? IF MTA CAN’T BUILD THE HOLDING PEN, THEN WHAT WILL THEY BUILD?”

At this stage we just know what WILL NOT be built at Farmdale (the at-grade proposal). What WILL be built at Farmdale is to be determined. Contrary to the LA Times article, the CPUC DID NOT and COULD NOT approve any of alternatives to the at-grade application:

  1. train undercrossing
  2. train overcrossing
  3. street closure with a pedestrian bridge

From the decision:

Though we deny the application for the proposed crossings at Farmdale, we cannot authorize the construction of any of the alternative design options.

The CPUC could only decide whether to approve or deny the street-level crossing, and they shot MTA down.

According to the decision, the CPUC must now facilitate MTA’s environmental review process, to see if MTA’s desired alternative, which just so happens to be the cheapest of the three options (closing Farmdale and building a pedestrian bridge) complies with environmental laws. Only after the EIR process is complete can another application be submitted to the CPUC for their approval or denial.

So we look forward to participating in that process and we will call on you to participate as well.

Popularity: 28% [?]

Video Footage of CPUC Public Hearing on 11/5/07

Posted by Fix Expo Team On November - 28 - 2008 ADD COMMENTS

On November 5, 2007, at the CPUC Public Hearing at Dorsey High School, about 500 residents, students, parents, teachers, administrators and child advocates packed the auditorium to deliver a message to CPUC Commissioner Timothy Simon and CPUC Judge Kenneth Koss about the Expo Line’s proposed primarily at-grade design through South LA.

The hearing was covered in the media in particular by Fox 11 News:

We recorded several more of the statements. In addition to the statements by LAUSD Board Member Marguerite LaMotte, former City Councilmember Nate Holden, and delivered on behalf of Congresswoman Diane Watson, comments from the public can be viewed on the Fix Expo YouTube page:

Continue for videos…

What Would Jesus Do?
Breeves Brogan, an area resident, pleads with the CPUC Commissioner, “So please, in the name of Jesus don’t kill any children today. Their blood will be on whoever’s hands makes the decision.”

Why Not In South LA?
Sharon Rogers of the New Frontier Democratic Club and Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee states, “Culver City children won’t have to walk across tracks with 225-ton trains traveling at 55 mph coming up to 30 times per hour, why should ours?”

Other Side of the Tracks
Michelle Colbert of Save Leimert and the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Council states, “If we accept the line at it’s current design South Los Angeles will literally be the other side of the tracks. There is data that shows that black and brown communities are more likely to have hazardous conditions placed in their communities. This dilemma wreaks of environmental racism, and an inferior diminished quality of life. Everything about the current design of this train is egregious and terribly wrong.”

Build Smart Transit

  • Prof. Najmedin Meshkati, the creator of the USC Transportation system safety program, quotes Metrolink CEO David Solow, “Every grade crossing is an accident waiting to happen.”
  • Irwin Davidson, a local property owner reminds MTA that, “It’s not acceptable. We’re a rich country. We can afford better than the very minimum. What is cheap today will be expensive in the long run.”
  • A native New Yorker states, “It’s incomprehensible that you would consider bringing something as important as mass transportation to Los Angeles in the 21st century and having it doing this up and down sort of thing.”
  • A local resident asks, “If the MTA Blue Line was kind of flawed why put another flawed system in?”
  • Mark Jolles reads from an article that quotes former LACTC Commissioner regarding the Blue Line deaths, “It’s not fair to blame motorists. It’s a terrible cop-out to blame pedestrians or kids to say they are at fault.” Mr. Jolles concludes his personal statement with, “It’s not the citizens that are causing problems. It is a low standard of engineering of the crossings.”

Dorsey HS Alumni Association
Steve Bagby, president of the Dorsey HS Alumni Association: “As former Deputy of Transportation for the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald to have overseen the Alameda Corridor as I have, I’ve seen the cut-and-cover – I’ve seen it be below grade in the communities of Compton and Lynwood, and the city of Los Angeles deserves no less. You cannot put a price on a child’s life.”

Student Learning & We Wanna Pick Them Up in the Afternoon

  • Andrea Canty the VP of the Dorsey HS Alumni Association: “The tracks will be so close to the bungalows that are here, which will impede student learning.”
  • Jackie Conkelton a Dorsey surrogate parent and foster parent: “I raise other people’s children; I don’t want anything to happen to them. And the people who have their own children, they don’t want anything to happen to them. We take them to school in the morning and we want to pick them up in the afternoon.”

Dorsey Students
  • Tinisha Brooks, president of the Dorsey Senior Class ‘08, “If a train going 25 mph can turn a Ford F-150 into a tincan, your child has no hope.”
  • Shellea Daniel of Dorsey ASB, “What if a train derails into this queuing area?”
  • Afolabi, Dorsey student, “Once the line is operating everyone is going to get distracted.”

Kids Will Be Kids
  • Rev. Donald Wilson of Dorsey Motivated Men: “An Expo Light Rail Line is needed, I do agree with that…but I want this committee to strongly consider how you want to bring it through here through Farmdale…at ground level. This is a very dangerous situation.”
  • Harold Washington of the Sutro Block Club: “It’s not safe. I’m a former alumni of Dorsey High, class of ‘61. I would [have been] the first one to jump that fence and end up being hit by the train.”
  • Thabiti Ambata: “There is no way you can build a gate high enough. Testosterone rules these children.”

North Area Neighborhood Development CouncilMike Ureña, president of the North Area Neighborhood Development Council: “I understand the logic of the design, but I think in practice it simply is not going to work. I also want to point out to you that when I was a kid as when you were a kid, we thought we were going to live forever.”
Treat Us RightNelle Ivory, a passionate veteran Leimert Park activists responds to MTA’s proposed holding pen at Dorsey HS, “I asked the manager of Expo – he said they were going to build a holding pen at Dorsey to keep the kids in. That’s insulting! I know what a holding pen is, we used to put our cattle in there before we sent them to slaughter. Is that the same thing they’re going to do to our kids?”
West Adams Neighborhood CouncilHattie Babb of the West Adams Neighborhood Council, which covers the area around Dorsey delivers the neighborhood council’s findings and concludes: “Be it resolved that the West Adams Neighborhood Council supports beginning to build the Expo Line below grade from USC trench through South Central Los Angeles as far as the existing $640 million budget will allow.”
They Don’t Tell Us – We Tell Them
  • Marta Zaragosa of the East Culver City Neighborhood Alliance begins with, “This is not about moving people out of their cars, [off] of the freeways. It’s about developers who have been buying property along the line for the last 15 years. And these same developers have given money to our politicians who have run for office.”
  • Julia Ansley, “Our elected representatives in this community, laid down, took a walk, because they want money paid to their campaigns.”
  • Tut Hayes, “You got to recognize that MTA and Expo they don’t build transit. This is million dollars worth of construction there’s big money in this.”
  • Jackie Ryan of Save Leimert and Leimert Park Business Association states, “You – the community – you here tonight are going to determine how this railroad is going to come.”

Popularity: 5% [?]

BREAKING: Judge Denies MTA’s Plans at Dorsey & Foshay!

Posted by Fix Expo Team On October - 24 - 2008 ADD COMMENTS

As covered in:

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE DAVID LANDS A GOOD ONE ON GOLIATH

In a landmark decision regarding the MTA/Expo Line Construction Authority’s two proposed Expo Light Rail Line crossings next to 2,100-student Dorsey HS and 3,400-student Foshay Learning Center, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Judge Kenneth Koss ruled MTA’s plans unsafe, and the community and LAUSD’s safety concerns valid. The ruling is a tentative decision that will either be adopted or amended by the full CPUC commission on November 21, and it is a major milestone in a heated struggle pitting a scrappy South LA community coalition with the support of LAUSD, against the MTA and their local elected leaders building the project.

Judge Koss’ influential decision recommends the CPUC deny both proposed crossings and MTA submit the appropriate environmental review documents regarding the alternative options.

This is a major battle victory in a long and unfortunate war.

We are relieved that the Judge heard the concerns of the rail safety experts, traffic experts, LAUSD and the community. And we are regretful that the Commission didn’t allow hearings on any of the other crossings, and basically rubber-stamped them believing what MTA said.

Two crossings went to hearing and two crossings were found to be unsafe by the judge. We believe that as the evidentiary hearings on Farmdale and Harvard Avenues revealed, the ‘evidence’ used by the MTA and Expo Authority to support their assertions that they are building a safe project is both unfounded and has been manipulated. (More on that this weekend)

The manipulation of data, unfounded assertions, and dismissal of valid safety concerns for decades, speaks volumes to the deficient rail safety cost-benefit analysis that our region’s transportation agencies and politicians have been implementing with impunity. Our transportation agencies’ Ford Pinto cost-benefit analysis is why the MTA’s Blue Line at 90 deaths and over 821 accidents, is by far the deadliest light rail line in the country, and Metrolink is one of the deadliest commuter rail systems in the country.

MTA simply doesn’t value life.

For more about our response to possible project delay, the cost of redesigning the crossings, the project’s financial background, excerpts from the evidentiary hearing, and excerpts from the Judge’s proposed decision, and our requests of our elected representives click here to continue reading…

RE: POSSIBLE PROJECT DELAY

If the Judge’s proposed decision is adopted by full CPUC, it may delay the full opening of Phase 1 of the line to Culver City, currently scheduled to begin service in 2010.

And true to form MTA’s inflated estimates of delay and cost, exaggeration of impacts of the more expensive elevated and trench options, and undervaluing of the impacts of the cheaper options is a textbook example of a public agency cooking the books. This is their attempt to blackmail the Commission into approving unsafe crossings next to our schools of all places.

First off, since when is building something more quickly more important than building it safely?

Second, let’s look at the facts: On the stand MTA’s executive admitted they could build up to the previous station and begin service.

UCA/Fix Expo Question: Assuming the regulatory approvals were granted to operate the line in the segmented way that’s described in Exhibit 21, wouldn’t Metro then be able to operate the line in that fashion?

Expo Authority Executive Eric Olson’s Answer: That would be a decision of the Metro Board to make.

UCA/Fix Expo Question: But again, physically possible; right?

Olson’s Answer: I mean, as far as the construction goes, yes.

Exhibit 21 is Pg. 2.4-72 of the Expo Line EIR (large pdf) which reads:
Partial Operation Construction Option

The Partial Operation Construction Option would phase-in LRT operations in three segments as construction milestones are met. LRT operations from 7th Street/Metro Center to the Vermont Station would begin upon completion of this portion of the Project’s route in approximately 2008; while LRT operations to the Crenshaw Station would begin upon completion of this segment in approximately 2010. The final segment, from Crenshaw Boulevard to the Venice/Robertson Station, would be scheduled for completion in 2012.

And more importantly, the full line to Santa Monica isn’t even scheduled to open until 2014-2015 – at the earliest!

There is no need to rush to compromise safety.

It is more important that we get this right, make the appropriate investments on the front end to save lives – particularly the lives of children, so the public isn’t paying on the back-end with accident lawsuits and inexplicable pain from deaths and injury. This is a 100 year project – build it right.

Furthermore, if there is a delay to the project, the delay is of MTA’s own making and due to the failure of political leadership to address legitimate community concerns.

As we showed in a post earlier this week, MTA’s own documents on this project prove that from its inception, the community has repeatedly and loudly said that the street-level crossings, in particularly near our schools, are not safe and were unacceptable. But out of bureaucratic arrogance and political indifference, MTA and our political leaders have fought the community at every turn.

RE: THE COST OF REDESIGNING THE CROSSINGS

In the backdrop of one of the most horrific train accidents in this country’s history that cost us 26 innocent lives, seriously injured and maimed 135 people, and has made our region’s public transportation agencies an embarrassment to the world, please tell us that our elected officials and transportation agency bureaucrats aren’t claiming that they don’t have the money to make the Expo Line safe.

Tell us that they’ve learned their lesson – unfortunately the hard way.

Tell us that they’re not still of the mindset that has led to hundreds of preventable deaths on our tracks like last month’s Chatsworth accident. Tell us they don’t still believe that time and money is more important than saving peoples lives and limbs.

This is the problem with the term “safe.” It is by definition a relative term subject to misinterpretation by elected officials.

For example, before the Chatsworth accident it was too expensive to implement positive train control and that segment of track was ’safe.’ After the tragedy it is clearly unsafe and the cost of the technology is a drop in the bucket. It shouldn’t take multiple deaths and worldwide embarrassment to make our elected officials realize that.

RE: BACKGROUND REGARDING THE FINANCIAL HISTORY OF THE PROJECT

In 2004, MTA pulled this project out of the federal New Starts program, in the process walking away from $320 million federal dollars, saying they’d build the project primarily with state and local money instead, because they wanted to speed up construction. That doesn’t sound like an agency that can’t afford to build grade separation to me. That sounds like an agency with plenty of financial options.

In the past year alone, MTA has appropriated $222 million extra dollars to the now $862 million project, including $54 million to add an overpass in Culver City to Phase 1 of Expo. And they appropriated these funds while telling us with a straight face that there’s no money for additional grade separation in South LA.

It is insulting to the intelligence of the people that have followed this issue to suggest this multi-billion dollar agency led by the most powerful politicians in the county, can’t find a way to make the Expo Line safe in our community – particularly right next to our schools.

MTA has the resources. MTA has many options – they can scale the project back for one. The fundamental problem is MTA has and unfortunately continues to lack a concern for safety in South LA.

RE: EXPERT EXCERPTS FROM THE EVIDENTIARY HEARING

At the evidentiary hearing three expert witnesses testified on behalf of the community group including Professor Najmedin Meshkati, an internationally renowned expert in human risk analysis and creator of USC’s Transportation System safety program, Ed Ruszak an nationally-renowned expert in traffic impacts and vehicular accident causation, and West Point graduate and retired Major Russ Quimby, who for 22 years led the rail and rail-transit accident investigation group at the National Transportation Safety Board before he retired in 2007.

Quimby testified that there was a high risk of catastrophic accident from MTA’s street-level crossing plan at Farmdale Ave, which abuts the school’s property line, and where after-school every day 700 hundreds of students flood the narrow sidewalks in 15 minutes at rates as high as 108 per minute:

As proposed, the Farmdale Avenue crossing creates a high risk that students will be injured and killed because the proposed safety mitigation measures essentially put the burden on students to maintain their own safety. The proposed crossing also creates a higher risk of a catastrophic accident. [....]

By ‘catastrophic accident,’ I mean an accident involving fatalities and/or injuries to a large number of people. As proposed, the at-grade Farmdale Avenue crossing creates the notable risk that a catastrophic accident may well occur under one of several different scenarios.”

(More excerpts from Quimby’s testimony.)

EXCERPTS FROM THE JUDGE’S DRAFT DECISION (link to the full draft decision)

“Expo Authority proposed a state-of-the-art system of gates and other warning devices at the Farmdale crossing, including swing gates to allow pedestrians to exit the rail right-of-way when all other gates are down. All of these gates, however, can be avoided easily by pedestrians. Considering the large number of crossings during peak periods, and the student populations using the crossing, we find that any system of gates or other warning devices at-grade would not eliminate all potential safety hazards.”

“The parties discussed several other crossings at or near school sites along other light-rail lines. However, none of these cases presented the unique characteristics of the proposed Farmdale crossing at Dorsey. This issue, therefore, provided little or no weight in our determination of practicability.”
[....]
“A.07-05-013, for authority to construct an at-grade crossing at Farmdale Ave. in the City of Los Angeles, should be denied.

“Authorization to construct a light rail line over an existing pedestrian tunnel crossing at Harvard Blvd., in the City of Los Angeles, requested in A.06-12-020, should be denied.”

OUR FINAL PLEA TO THE CITY COUNCIL

Prior to the issuance of the decision, we delivered a statement on Wednesday before the LA City Council challenging the other members of the chamber to intervene and persuade our local black council members and MTA who have ignored legitimate concerns and data and instead, “declared war on the very community they were elected to serve and the neighborhood council system in general.”

We believe it is now incumbent upon our elected officials from the council members to the congressional leaders, to do the responsible thing and listen to the safety concerns expressed by the experts and Judge, and take into account the impacts to the community and schools of the grade separated options. This is a transportation project that will impact this community and serve this region for 100 years. It is important we have a safe light rail line that is a compliment and a good neighbor to the South LA communities that it passes through.

Our intent is to now go back to the community and discuss this draft decision further, but for now we are relieved that MTA’s unsafe street-level crossing was denied – it is a cause for celebration. Today the judge choose life over the risk of death next to our schools.

Stay tuned for the next community meeting, likely the week after the election.

Popularity: 8% [?]

At the CPUC evidentiary hearing at the crossings near Dorsey High School (Farmdale) and Foshay Learning Center (Western), Russ Quimby, an internationally renowned rail safety expert testified on our behalf.

The 1974 West Point graduate spoke about his integrity, his qualifications and background after spending 22 years at the National Transportation Safety Board (”NTSB”) as the Investigator-in-Charge or Chair of rail and rail transit accidents Investigation Groups. Quimby testified about NTSB studies, which determined that slowing down the trains “creat[es] as many problems as you solve,” how the Metro policy used to determine whether crossings qualify for grade separations “cannot seriously be described as a safety policy,” how the Western Ave crossing right next to Foshay, has “‘no time’ for safety,” as mentioned below, how the Farmdale crossing creates a notable risk of catastrophic accidents, and how the crossings near the school are not safe.

A 2-page brief excerpt of Russ Quimby’s testimony and qualifications has been added to our flyers list (direct link)

EXCERPTS FROM THE PREPARED TESTIMONY & CROSS EXAMINATION OF MAJ. RUSS QUIMBY (Ret.) - Delivered at the California Public Utilities Commission Expo Line Evidentiary Hearing on Dorsey & Foshay (Sept. 5, 2008)

I. Excerpts from the Prepared Testimony of Maj. Russ Quimby (Ret.)

Maj. Quimby’s background and qualifications (pg. 2):

From July 2007 to May 2008, I was Asst. V.P. for Operations, Planning & Analysis at Rail Sciences Inc., where I served as an expert witness in legal cases, conducted risk assessments of railroad operations, training, track, and equipment, and investigated rail related accidents.

From 1985 to 2007, I was a safety engineer and investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). While with the NTSB, I was the Investigator-In-Charge and/or Chairman of the Mechanical, Track, or Operations Investigation Groups for all severity levels of railroad or rail-transit incidents, accidents, and disasters. I conducted investigations, wrote and prepared factual and analytical reports for public record, examined witnesses at public hearings and depositions, and supervised simulations and equipment test by carriers, vendors, and manufacturers. I participated in 57 major accident investigations, 32 field accident investigations, 10 public hearings, 16 depositions, and 6 special studies. I personally wrote 11 major accident reports for publication, 8 field accident reports, and I conducted 10 sworn depositions proceedings. I was also the originator or major collaborator for over 157 NTSB adopted recommendations.

Maj. Quimby’s expert opinion on the Farmdale Ave. crossing, which abuts 2100 student Dorsey H.S. (pg. 5):

In my opinion, the proposed at-grade crossing at Farmdale Avenue is not safe because it poses an unreasonably high safety risk to the students at Dorsey High School.

Maj. Quimby describing the potential for catastrophic accidents at the Dorsey HS/Farmdale crossing (pp. 7 – 8):

By “catastrophic accident,” I mean an accident involving fatalities and/or injuries to a large number of people. As proposed the at-grade Farmdale Avenue crossing creates the notable risk that a catastrophic accident may well occur under one of several different scenarios. For example:

First, that a train will collide with a vehicle with sufficient force to either derail the train into and/or push the vehicle into the proposed ‘holding pens’ where several hundred students are trapped inside, killing or seriously injuring scores of students in a single accident.

Second, that a train will collide with a vehicle (particularly a truck or bus) rupturing and igniting a fuel tank which would engulf students in the holding pen in flaming diesel or gasoline.

Third, a combination of the above two scenarios where the students are crushed and burned simultaneously by vehicles and/or a derailed train.

Maj. Quimby describing the Western Ave crossing, which is 50 feet from 3400 student Foshay Learning Center (pg. 9):

This crossing lacks any safety margin for failure in human behavior. The timing is so precisely choreographed and tight that there was no time left in the design for the activation and movement of gates, so they were eliminated. This, in itself, tells me that this intersection has ‘no time’ for safety.

Any number of likely scenarios could trigger a delay in the crossing sequence resulting in an accident at the crossing, either separately or by interaction between vehicles and pedestrians, resulting in serious injury or fatality.

Maj. Quimby on MTA’s Grade Crossing Policy, which determines whether crossings are grade separated (pp. 10 & 11):

Metro’s Grade Crossing Policy is not a safety-based policy. In fact, as far as I can tell from [Expo Construction Authority CEO] Mr. [Rick] Thorpe’s testimony, the policy has nothing whatsoever to do with safety and is concerned almost entirely with Metro’s operational convenience regardless of safety concerns.

The policy cannot seriously be described as a safety policy because traffic volume and train frequency alone tell you very little about the safety of a rail crossing, particularly when traffic volume is reported on a per lane basis. As far as Metro’s Grade Crossing Policy is concerned, for purposes of grade classification, a crossing that intersects a single lane street going in one direction with no pedestrian traffic is analyzed identically to a crossing that intersects twelve lanes going in six directions with peak pedestrian traffic in the thousands per hour. As long as train headways and per lane traffic volumes fall within acceptable standards, a crossing will be designed at-grade with no need for further review or analysis.

The Metro Grade Crossing Policy is a logical operational policy from a rail perspective, but it does not nor should not replace a responsible, comprehensive system safety analysis, which should include a human performance study. The risky designs of these two proposed crossings illustrates the point that factors beyond train frequency and vehicle traffic must be taken into consideration to create designs that are reasonably safe for the public – and particularly for children. If the proposed crossings at Western Ave. and Farmdale Avenue do not qualify for grade separation from a safety perspective, then no crossings would.

II. Cross Examination from the Hearing Transcript (pp. 762 – 764)

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
I also gave [UCA/Fix Expo] a warning that after I reviewed the material, I may give them an opinion they might not like. [….] I emphasize the fact when I got into this business, I won’t trade my integrity for money.

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
And what happens is if you slow the trains down, your window of hazard lengthens. And then you get the condition, the population to believe, well, the train is slow. It’s hard to judge a train coming head on at you with a headlight on. And that basically causes the students, emboldens them to basically say, well, the train is only going ten miles an hour, I can beat it, and run across the tracks in front of the trains. I guess in [National Transportation] Safety Board studies that we’ve done you end up creating as many problems as you solve by slowing the train down. You just create a longer window of opportunity or hazard.

Expo’s Question:
And your statement that the students would be embolden to run across the tracks, what do you base that on?

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
Well, they’re going very slow, and you got students who are impatient and standing there waiting for a slower train to go by, and they feel like they have more time to beat the train across the tracks.

Expo’s Question:
What about gates that go down, wouldn’t that?

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
With pedestrians in particular, a lot of people feel, even if you have pedestrian gates there, they duck under them, walk under them, whatever. People ignore signs and gates. 25 percent of all vehicle collisions at grade crossings that had gates result in fatalities. I mean so if you’ve got 25 percent of the people being killed at crossings with gates, you know, they drive around them and things of that nature. So a gate is like – it’s more – obviously more active than a sign, but it doesn’t prevent behavior.

Expo’s Question:
Well, informing that opinion, wouldn’t it have been useful for you to observe whether or not that’s the case on other lines within Los Angeles?

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
I saw that at the Vernon Station.

Expo’s Question:
You observed people crossing with the same sort of crossing barrier?

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
Yes.

Expo’s Question:
And often, right, just all the time racing across?

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
Pretty much.

Expo’s Question:
And you translate that opinion back to the same thing is going to happen at Farmdale?

Maj. Quimby’s Answer:
I would say most certainly. And it happens generally. I’m not a behavioral scientist, but generally speaking, the younger the population, the younger the person, generally the more apt they are to do that, because they’re physically able to. And I don’t know, when you’re young you don’t have the rationale and experience as you do as you get older where you’re more careful.

Popularity: 7% [?]

Major Battle Victory at the PUC

Posted by Fix Expo Team On August - 11 - 2008 ADD COMMENTS

(As covered in CityWatchLA)

At the California Public Utilities Commission Hearing Monday on the Expo Line crossings by Dorsey High School and Foshay Learning Center, the assigned Judge Kenneth Koss issued the following statement as part of his ruling:

“With the submission of Expo’s information it appears that a grade separation at Farmdale is in fact practicable.”

This means that the street-level application with the holding pen is off the table.

The only options are:
a) underpass
b) overpass
c) street closure with a pedestrian bridge

This a major victory for the Dorsey High School family – for the future children of Dorsey HS.

Here’s some of the leadup to the hearing.

The Expo Authority since February has been conducting a study on alternatives to the street-level railroad crossing at Farmdale right by Dorsey HS.

Since April, both our attorneys and the LAUSD lawyers have been requesting the study. Expo has refused to supply it, including during discovery. They were ordered to supply it by the Judge and still they have not. Yet, in June, Expo produced testimony stating that this study showed that closing off Farmdale and building a pedestrian bridge was not possible because it would have adverse traffic impacts on the adjacent crossing of Buckingham that could not be mitigated and would not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Again we requested the study and they failed to supply it.

The LAUSD and our attorneys supplied our testimony in response to Expo’s testimony August 6 and July 30 respectively.

Our lawyers filed a request for a continuance on August 7 because of the failure of Expo to supply the document, along with motions to eliminate from the record any reference of Expo’s witnesses to the study since Expo refused to supply it. The same day, the Judge denied the request for the continuance and stated the other matters would be addressed on Monday.

On night of August 8, at 7:30 pm, Expo sent amended testimony COMPLETELY REVERSING their position that they could not close Farmdale and on Saturday night they submitted another 75 pg document showing how it would legally comply with CEQA.

The LAUSD is quite clear in their statement:

“We can reasonably infer from such changes in Expo’s Friday night revised testimony that the ‘draft’ traffic study found adverse impacts that would have to mitigated, so Expo commissioned another study to reach a conclusion more to its liking.”

Accordingly, the LAUSD has requested they be supplied all of Expo’s draft studies to determine the extent of the manipulation by the Expo Authority:

“These studies will provide a window into Expo’s apparent manipulation of technical studies to serve its litigation interests in this case. To the extent is shows that Expo has suppressed studies with conclusions not to its liking and has commissioned other studies that later the assumptions or methodologies to arrive at different conclusions, that practice is highly relevant to the weight this Commission should give to Expo’s witnesses’ testimony. To ignore such practices and to accept the project proponent’s technical assertions at face value would make a mockery of this hearing.”

Judge Koss answered the question of MTA motives with his Monday decision.

Popularity: 1% [?]

WE DID IT! PUC Evidentiary Hearing Moved to Los Angeles

Posted by Fix Expo Team On August - 7 - 2008 ADD COMMENTS

An Important Battle Victory in a Our Struggle

As reported in the LA Watts Times last week, we won an important battle in our struggle, as the Public Utilities Commission (”PUC”) moved the location of the evidentiary hearing from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. The PUC is one regulatory body that can prevent MTA from building the trains at street level.

Holding the hearing is San Francisco would have been a logistical nightmare for us and prevented several of our witnesses from testifying. But because of YOU and YOUR emails and letters, and YOUR ACTION through your presence and statements of concern at the July 2nd PUC Workshop at Foshay we were victorious.

Special thanks go to State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, who promptly responded to the concerns of the community by sending the first letter to the PUC requesting the hearing be moved to Los Angeles. Thanks also go to Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Assembly Member Mike Davis and even Council Member Herb Wesson for writting letters and contacting the PUC.

The hearings will be held daily from August 11 to August 15 beginning at 10 am and ending at 5 pm at the PUC’s Downtown Los Angeles hearing room:

320 W. 4th Street Suite 500

Los Angeles, CA 90008

Popularity: 1% [?]

Political Interference in the CPUC Judicial Process

Posted by Fix Expo Team On June - 29 - 2008 ADD COMMENTS

While the South LA community was fighting to literally protect children’s lives, our own elected representative, Council Member Bernard Parks, along with Santa Monica politician State Senator Sheila Kuehl, were applying pressure on judicial officers of a State oversight agency to impede our efforts in court.

The South LA community, teachers, parents, and child advocates have long expressed reservations about the unsafe street-level design of the Expo Light Rail Line, particularly around our schools like Dorsey HS (10 feet of the railroad crossing) and Foshay Learning Center (50 feet of the crossing). The state oversight agency for the safety of all rail crossings is the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”). All transportation agencies attempting to build and operate a rail line across any street in California must submit applications and receive approval from the CPUC. The CPUC can either approve or reject a crossing application on the grounds of safety, and has rejected countless railroad crossing applications in the past.

One of the lead groups of the Fix Expo Campaign, Expo Communities United (“ECU”), exercised its legal rights by protesting all of the unsafe street-level Expo Line applications, and requesting a hearing to discuss the safety hazards and needed safety upgrades. In the process ECU delayed what would have been a 60-day rubberstamp process.

The ECU research team amassed an extensive record proving that the street-level crossings were not safe. Among the evidence submitted were:
a) internal memos expressing reservations about the safety of the crossings by the staff of numerous public agencies, namely the PUC’s own engineers & former LADOT General Manager Gloria Jeff; and
b) a convincing showing that the bulk of the Expo Line design was an exact replica of the deadliest & most accident-prone light rail line in America, the MTA’s Blue Line, & would operate in more complex environments, meaning even more accidents & deaths could be expected. Surely an opportunity to argue the case would be provided, further lengthening the application process.

Unexpectedly, on August 14, 2007 Commissioner Timothy Simon, one of five governor-appointed representatives to the CPUC, and the assigned Commissioner to the Expo Line case issued an “Open Letter to Lawmakers Regarding the Expo Line Proceeding,” stating that he was receiving pressure from local legislators to expedite the case. In the letter Simon stated that he considered approving the applications and expediting the case “of the highest priority.” Commissioner Simon specifically said, “approving these applications” as though a determination had already been made, even though ECU and LAUSD had yet to present their cases to the CPUC.

In an email on November 19, 2007 (pdf), Commissioner Simon’s Chief of Staff identified the legislators who were contacting him with concerns about the “time consuming process of approving these applications” that led to the Open Letter:

  • STATE SENATOR SHEILA KUEHL (Santa Monica)
  • COUNCIL MEMBER BERNARD PARKS, who represents the area where the Expo Line passes within a stone’s throw of sensitive sites like Foshay Learning Center, and operates without even basic crossing gates in a design that is exactly like one of the most accident-prone sections of the Blue Line.

When the letter was issued, Simon had not yet been confirmed to the Commission by the California State Senate, in which Sen. Kuehl is a very influential member. Simon’s eventual confirmation hearing, which occurred months later, was filled with controversy about his ethics (PUC Member’s Donation Request Raises Questions – LA Times). At the time Kuehl was also pushing legislation to remove the jurisdiction of rail crossing safety from the CPUC.

And we have confirmed that Bernard Parks has been accepting donations for his campaign for County Supervisor from MTA and Expo Line contractors in violation of California law.

Download the flyer of the above text click here

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Protests to the PUC

Posted by Fix Expo Team On September - 27 - 2007 ADD COMMENTS

Opening Brief of Expo Communities United: 264 KB pdf

Reply Brief of Expo Communities United: 212 KB pdf

While we continue to point out the facts the Expo Authority’s continues their political damage control campaign: Local Legislators Pressure PUC Commissioner

UPDATE: Conversation with Commissioner Simon’s Chief of Staff

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Next Meeting: Mon Jan 11

Join us at our first community update and organizing meeting in the new decade as we discuss the on-going Farmdale controversy and Crenshaw subway effort.

Campaign for Stimulus & Measure R Funds to Grade Separate the South LA Portion of Expo

MTA now has more resources that by law has to be spent on rapid transit expansion. Now is our time to request these resources go toward FIXING EXPO!

Responding to MTA Spin & Deception

A comprehensive response to the spin, red herrings, and half-truths delivered by MTA/Expo, complete with agency memos, testimony, studies, pictures, videos and all.

Separate & Unequal: Expo Phase 1

Compare the design of the Expo Line Phase 1 west of La Cienega to that in majority-minority South LA and it’s clear that Expo Phase 1 is textbook environmental racism.

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