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After a Dose of Reality: Hindry is No Hindrance

GETTING THERE FROM HERE - Funny how a good dose of reality can make people change their position.  Count me in as one of those who was dismissive of the at-grade (surface level) Westchester station option at Hindry/Florence and who strongly favored the elevated station at Manchester/Aviation for the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line Project.  The latter site made much more sense with respect to neighborhood businesses and pedestrian destinations, and was more easily accessible by car and bus commuters alike.


Then the price tag of $80 million came in for a Manchester/Aviation station, so Metro staff and the Metro Board denied a Westchester station altogether in their final EIR, and Westside transportation advocates were left with a big decision to make.  

This is not to say that these aforementioned advocates were, or even are, on the same page with respect to the Hindry option.  Some despise the Hindry option altogether, some adhere to the Manchester/Aviation station option, and probably most are now taking another look at the Hindry option.

Again, funny how a good dose of reality can make people change their position…although the $80 million figure would really have been nice to know about 4-6 months earlier than when it came out (which was just as the Board was about ready to vote on the EIR).

So as it stands, the Hindry station option remains one that will cost about $18 million, lies at ground level, and can always be added in future years should it not be included in the original Crenshaw/LAX Line Project now going out to potential bidders for final planning and construction (“design-build” is the proper term for how this combined process works).

It should be noted that the at-grade (ground/surface level) location of Hindry/Florence is not the main problem with that site.  Some adhere to the idea that all light and commuter rail should be elevated or below ground (“grade separated”), but it’s only safety and access that truly necessitates grade separation for a rail project.

The problem with Hindry is that it’s not as transit-friendly as compared to Manchester/Aviation, with respect to both current bus routes and with respect to the type of adjacent businesses that make for better ridership and a more pleasant transit experience.  Manchester/Aviation is commercially-zoned, and Hindry is more zoned for industrial use.

However, the problem with Manchester/Aviation is that the rail right of way at that location is curved (unlike Hindry, which is straight), and a curved track won’t be flush with a straight-edged and elevated station platform, which means an unacceptable safety risk for riders who might be at risk of falling through the gap.

And did I mention the $80 million price tag?  That’s what’s required to purchase adjacent land to have enough room for the track to be straightened at Manchester/Aviation.  So it’s Hindry or nothing for Westchester to get its own station.

Which is not to say that rezoning, environmental cleanup and other efforts can’t be done to beautify and improve the Hindry/Florence region?  After all, this is much of what the Crenshaw/LAX Line Project is all about—neighborhood revitalization, enhancing local business development, and improving the walkability and quality of life for those who work and live near a putative Hindry station, just as is being done for the other stations along the line.

Lots of private and public conversations and e-mails have ensued over the past few weeks after the Board approval for the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line, and while no one wants the Hindry station to get in the way of a LAX or Westchester station for the upcoming Green Line to LAX Project, the only way for Westchester to get its own station for the Crenshaw/LAX Project is at the Board level.

And so enter County Supervisor Don Knabe, who has put forth a motion to the Metro Construction Committee (which he chairs) for its meeting on November 17th, that would include the Westchester station at Hindry (which has been environmentally cleared) as an option for potential contractors to bid on so long as it stays within the project budget.

It now falls to the Westside and other transportation advocates who favor a Westchester station for this project to weigh in on this motion as soon as possible.  For those weighing in, it’s vital for Board Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, Board Secretary Michele Jackson and County Supervisor Don Knabe (via his transportation deputy Julie Moore) to hear from you.  It should be requested for the Board Secretary to forward any e-mails to all Metro Boardmembers.

Their e-mails include:

Antonio Villaraigosa: [email protected]
Michele Jackson: [email protected]
Don Knabe: [email protected]
Michael Antonovich: [email protected]
Diane DuBois: [email protected]
Pam O'Connor: [email protected]
Mark Ridley-Thomas: [email protected]
John Fasana: [email protected]
José Huizar: [email protected]
Gloria Molina: [email protected]
Ara Najarian: [email protected]
Zev Yaroslavsky: [email protected]

It’s not unreasonable for the Westchester and adjacent communities to be flexible for a station at Hindry, and it’s not unreasonable for the Board to be just as flexible as we work our way to building the best MetroRail system possible.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) –cw

Tags: Hindry, Manchester, Aviation, Crenshaw Line, LAX, light rail





CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 87
Pub: Nov 1, 2011