A state panel will meet in L.A. Monday to hear residents' concerns about planned street-level crossings for a coming light rail project, which will run along these tracks near Dorsey High School.
- Photo by Gary McCarthy
By BETTY PLEASANT, Contributing Editor Los Angeles Wave
7.AUG.08 - A Peaceful march is planned for Saturday, as activists and sole Black L.A. Unified School District board member say agency is disregarding safety concerns of South L.A. residents.
schools and playgrounds within 1/2 mile of expo line.
In a fight against what they call “environmental racism,” residents are gearing up to spend much of Saturday protesting the MTA’s plans to provide what they consider unsafe street-level railroad crossings of the proposed Expo Light Rail Line in South L.A., but safe underground crossings of the line in less ethnically diverse neighborhoods west of La Cienega Boulevard.
School board members, parents, teachers, students, union leaders and community groups and members will stage a series of events to voice their concerns about the proposed 8.5-mile Expo Line scheduled to run on rails along Exposition Boulevard from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and slicing across nearly all intersections in South L.A.
Transit activist Damien Goodmon and a coalition of neighborhood groups have been locked in battle with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over the MTA’s failure to provide underground pedestrian crossings of the rails, which will carry 225-ton trains at 55 miles per hour through South L.A. intersections 240 times a day.
“In addition to the adverse traffic impacts, noise pollution and other environmental concerns, the street-level crossing design poses a significant safety hazard,” Goodmon said. “At Vermont, Normandie, Western and Crenshaw, which abut large urban schools, parks and places of worship, crossing gates aren’t even proposed.”
Goodmon pointed out that 21 of the 27 proposed street-level crossings don’t even have gates.
Alarmed by the danger children would face going to and from the many schools that abut the Expo Line, the LAUSD school board unanimously passed the “Keeping Kids Safe” resolution last November. The resolution, co-authored by board members Marguerite LaMotte and Julie Korenstein, called upon the MTA to provide safe crossings in South L.A., such as the underground crossing it plans for the USC area and the elevated trains set for the Culver City end of the line.
“So how is that arrangement fair?” LaMotte asked. “It isn’t. It’s racist and we contend that nothing less than an equitable and safe underground or elevated route is acceptable in our community, as well.”
Residents will have three opportunities to voice their concerns Saturday. Community meetings on the issue will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Foshay Learning Center and from 11 a.m. to noon on the steps of Dorsey High School. Between the two assemblies, from 10 to 11 a.m., Lamotte, union, civic and political activists will lead parents, students, teachers and others on a peaceful walk along Exposition Boulevard, on the sidewalk parallel to the tracks, to protest street-level crossings.
Saturday’s activities will lead up to the Public Utilities Commission hearing on the Expo Line problem set for Aug. 11 in Los Angeles. LaMotte said the hearing was originally scheduled to be held in San Francisco, but it was moved to Los Angeles because of pressure applied to the state panel by state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas and Assemblyman Mike Davis.
“We intend to send as strong message to the MTA and to the Public Utilities Commission,” LaMotte said.
VIDEO: "— in a screech of emergency brakes and the shriek of twisted metal."