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% [?]

LA Times: Expo Line plan runs into resistance

Posted by Fix Expo Team On October - 21 - 2007 ADD COMMENTS

Read today’s article in the Los Angeles Times to get the view of how the forum last Wednesday: Expo Line Plan Runs Into Resistance. The community did not respond favorably to the “Dorsey holding pen,” the absence of Burke and Parks (isn’t that guy supposed to be running for Supervisor), nor Wesson’s refusal to stand up for the safety of the children. We’ll be uploading more footage from the forum over the next couple of weeks.

Some of the details need clarifying. ECU protested all 34 crossings (they were throughout 10 applications). The PUC Commissioner of the case, Timothy Simon, who oversees the case, ordered the presiding officer, Judge Koss, to not allow an evidentiary hearing (where all the facts can be presented and we can cross examine Expo Authority’s “facts”) on all but the Farmdale application. How much of his decision was based on the facts and arguments of the case (click here to read our briefs), and how much of it is based on expediency and political pressure is to be determined (lots more on that throughout this week).

We will be appealing the decision by Commissioner Simon this week. But if denied at this stage, we don’t intend to go away. We will not allow another Blue Line to be built through South LA. The Expo Line will be built right. We’re going to fight for as long and as far as is necessary to Fix the Expo Line. And legal battles can take a while…

To read the full text of the article if the above link isn’t working, continue reading…

Expo Line plan meets resistance
By Howard Blume and Jeffrey L. Rabin
October 21, 2007 in print edition B-1

Dorsey High School is the focal point of an increasingly heated fight between transit officials determined to build a light-rail line from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside, and Crenshaw District residents who fear that fast-moving trains will threaten the safety of students crossing the tracks.

The first leg of the rail line, scheduled to open in 2010, will run near the 2,000-student high school where at 3:08 p.m. most weekdays, chaos reigns.

After school, hundreds of students flood across the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Farmdale Avenue, walking home or awaiting pickup. Ice cream trucks beckon. Cars wait six-deep in all directions, sometimes blocking traffic when they pull up to and away from the curb. Students walk or run past the scene or loiter under the mature pepper trees in the boulevard’s grassy median – an old railroad right-of-way that soon will become the path for trains carrying commuters between downtown L.A. and Culver City.

Critics insist that running trains at 35 mph across the intersection is unsafe. To avoid potential collisions between trains, students and motorists, they want the tracks built above or below ground, but not at street level. To do anything less, in their view, is environmental racism.

“This project is unfair to this community and the students who live here,” said Beverly Manuel, Dorsey’s dean of students, as she helped police the mass exodus Thursday. “If this were anyplace else, changing this design would not be an issue.”

Opponents of the design note that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board last month approved spending an extra $23.3 million to add a station at USC/Exposition Park and to pay for safety improvements at several points along the Expo Line route.

But transit officials say they only have the money to pay for a street-level crossing at Dorsey. To elevate the rail line across the intersection would cost at least an extra $25 million, further straining the Expo Line project’s $663.3-million budget.

Richard Thorpe, chief executive of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, said the intersection will be much safer than it is now with the installation of traffic lights, wider sidewalks, warning lights, bells and barriers to prevent people and cars from crossing the twin tracks when a train is approaching.

Thorpe points to an excellent safety record on MTA’s Gold Line, which runs near schools between downtown L.A. and Pasadena.

The bureaucracy of the Los Angeles Unified School District, belatedly, is joining the public debate. After several years of restrained analyses, district officials have been stirred to action by community activists who have appealed to school administrators, visited school board members and taken over a local neighborhood council.

The construction authority cannot lay tracks across intersections along the rail line without the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission, which has jurisdiction over safety at railroad crossings.

After touring the route and reviewing the record, Timothy Alan Simon, a commissioner on the public utilities board, last week rejected community protests and gave preliminary approval for running trains across nine intersections along Exposition Boulevard. The lone exception was the Dorsey crossing.

Simon, a San Francisco attorney and former appointments secretary to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said he wanted to hear the Crenshaw community’s concerns.

“The speed of the trains through the crossing is a safety issue,” he said.

Simon has scheduled a public hearing Nov. 5 at Dorsey. The following day in Culver City, the commissioner and an administrative law judge will hold a formal evidentiary hearing on whether or not to allow the construction authority to proceed with the street-level crossing.

The Dorsey crossing is the last on an 8.6-mile route that is still awaiting state regulatory approval, even though activists also have filed formal objections to the street-level design elsewhere. The tracks will lie within 100 feet of five schools and close to nine others.

Construction of the rail line and other transit projects has become a major goal of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other elected officials in the area. But the Expo Line now entails political as well as potential safety risks.

Resistance to the project’s design is deepening, especially in the minority neighborhoods that surround Dorsey, one of a handful of Los Angeles high schools that remain predominantly black.

All those elements came to the fore Wednesday night at a community forum that drew more than 100 people to the school’s auditorium.

Damien Goodmon, a community activist who has spearheaded opposition to the Expo Line’s design, told the crowd that “Dorsey is the poster child for all that is wrong with this project.”

Goodmon noted that the rail line will run in a fenced-off trench for several blocks near USC and that Culver City officials have demanded an above-ground station in their community. He also accused construction authority officials of having a double standard about safety.

L.A. Unified board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte likened the dispute to a latter-day civil rights struggle.

“Nothing will happen that you don’t want to happen in our community if you stand together,” she said.

LaMotte vowed to oppose the Expo Line project unless changes were made to protect the safety of Dorsey students.

Steve J. Bagby Sr., president of the Dorsey High Alumni Assn., urged the crowd to get involved but also emphasized that critics were not opposed to the transit project.

“Everybody is for the Expo Line. We just want it to be safe,” he said.

A stream of speakers joined the critics.

“Environmental racism is alive and well,” said Michelle Colbert, a member of a local neighborhood council. She challenged City Councilman Herb Wesson, who was the only public official who has a say in the Expo Line matter to attend the forum.

“Councilman Wesson, you’ve got to do something. You have to stand up for the people,” Colbert said.

A sometimes-flustered Wesson pointed out that USC did not get all its requested concessions.

Wesson is a voting member and vice chairman of the Exposition Construction Authority’s board of directors, which approved the street-level design.

The councilman, who once held the powerful post of state Assembly speaker, upset many in the crowd when he said that even if he became the one vote on the seven-member Exposition board to oppose the current design, it would not accomplish anything.

The construction authority’s board members include City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, county Supervisors Yvonne B. Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky, and other elected officials.

Parks, Burke and Yaroslavsky also sit on the board of the MTA, which has ultimate authority over spending for the Expo Line and will operate the trains. None of them attended the community forum, but all voted last month for safety enhancements near USC and Los Angeles Trade Tech College.

Villaraigosa, another key player, missed the vote on the USC alterations. The mayor controls four seats on the 13-member MTA board.

“Obviously, the health and safety of the people living along the Expo Line are important and a top priority for me and the MTA,” he said Friday.

Last spring, Burke asked Thorpe to present options for dealing with safety concerns at Dorsey.

Thorpe told reporters that three options were considered: the street-level crossing; a pedestrian bridge over the tracks that would cost $5 million; and running the trains over the intersection on an aerial structure. The last option would cost at least an extra $25 million, he said.

Thorpe said the added USC/Exposition Park station addressed concerns about how to handle crowds from a major event, such as a football game at the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Thorpe said the MTA had agreed to slow the trains from 55 mph to 35 mph at Dorsey before and after school. Barriers would lower to block off the tracks for passing trains, which won’t stop at the intersection.

Retired Teamsters union official Jimmy Smith countered: “A train at 55 mph or 35 mph will kill you just as dead.”

Critics cited the recent collision of a Gold Line train traveling at 20 mph and an SUV that ran through a closed crossing gate in Highland Park as evidence of the potential danger of the Dorsey crossing. Community activist Goodmon said the SUV “crumpled like a potato chip bag.”

Back at the intersection of Exposition and Farmdale, a fight broke out at 3:15 p.m. Thursday between two girls. A van screeched to a halt to avoid hitting a police officer who dashed over to break things up. Some students ran over to watch. Others lined up at the ice cream trucks. Younger students, from an elementary school north of Exposition, crossed unsupervised. An older boy skateboarded down the middle of Farmdale. Another student, riding a bike without a helmet, shot through the intersection, ignoring stop signs.

“Kids are kids,” said Manuel, Dorsey’s dean of students. “You will have students who will try to beat the train. Someone is going to end up being killed right here on this spot.”


jeffrey.rabin@latimes.com
howard.blume@latimes.com

Popularity: 3% [?]

Our October 16 E-Newsletter

Posted by Fix Expo Team On October - 16 - 2007 ADD COMMENTS
Citizen’s Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line
A grassroots effort led by Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition and Expo Communities United
P.O. Box 8508 * Los Angeles, CA 90008 * FAX: (323) 295-9467 * www.FixExpo.org

OCTOBER UPDATE – October 16, 2007
  • Expo Line Forum TODAY – BE THERE!

The West Adams Neighborhood Council, Dorsey Alumni Association and neighborhood organizations are hosting an important community safety forum on the Expo Light Rail Line through South LA, TODAY, Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Dorsey High School Auditorium at 3537 Farmdale Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90016. (You can download the flyer here.)

The MTA/Expo Authority will be there to answer questions in a open public forum. (We can assume one of them will be, “Why do you want to run a 225-ton train within 20 feet of Dorsey HS at 55 mph up to 30 times per hour?“) Our organization will present the problems we see with the light rail line and the LAUSD Office of Environmental Health and Safety, and the LAUSD Parent Collaborative will speak as well.

Your presence is needed not only to learn more about the problems with the project and how to fix them, but to show all who will be looking on – the politicians and media – that the community is really concerned about the rail line coming through South LA at street level (known as “at grade”). School Board Member Marguerite LaMotte is confirmed to attend and we’re expecting no less than five media outlets and possibly Councilman Herb Wesson.

We’re now live on the web at www.FixExpo.org. Bookmark it and stop by regularly to keep up to date on this issue and view the numerous memos, videos and audio that expose the deficiencies of the Expo Line as currently designed. Go there now to view the surge of Dorsey students who cross at Farmdale & Exposition after school everyday (link) and read some of the countless smoking memos we’ve uncovered.

  • We’re in the News! Pick Up this week’s Our Weekly

Our press release “Was LADOT Head Gloria Jeff fired for Opposing the Expo Rail Line” was published in it’s entirety in this week’s Our Weekly (link). The day before Jeff was fired, representatives from over 8 homeowners associations, 5 community based organizations and 2 neighborhood councils spoke at the monthly MTA Board Meeting to protest adding $18 million dollars to the Expo Line construction for an optional USC station and track improvements in the portion of the Blue Line that the Expo Line is proposed to share. (The MTA has the money for an optional USC station and upgrades to Blue Line tracks, but they won’t pay for underpasses in South LA??? Right in front of our schools???? WHERE ARE THEIR PRIORITIES?!)

Among the documents we presented to the board and press to illustrate that the Expo Line is not designed to be safe was a strongly worded letter from Jeff to MTA. In the letter she states that the Expo Line design is fatally flawed, “not safe for pedestrians,” “not acceptable to LADOT,” and would lead to “major gridlock” (click here to read the full letter). The next day Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fired the African-American general manager for undisclosed reasons.

  • The Petition Drive Continues

The Save Leimert team was out in full force at last Saturday’s Taste of Soul, collecting over 500 signatures from concerned citizens throughout the region, in just a few hours! From as far out as Oceanside and Lancaster to right in Jefferson Park everyone agrees: the Expo Line must be built correctly through South LA! Thank you to all who signed and participated.

Help continue the momentum. DOWNLOAD THE PETITION (link) and circulate it within your home, workplace, church and organizations. (You don’t have to be a registered voter). There is strength in numbers.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Popularity: 3% [?]

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.

TAG CLOUD