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The Argonaut - Westchester: Council offers motion to fund second light rail stop

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Location: Westchester, CA

By Gary Walker

Once considered an afterthought on the Crenshaw/LAX Corridor Light Rail Line, the proposed Hindry Avenue station in Westchester has had some influential supporters come to its aid this year in an attempt to revive hope for a second Westchester stop on the mass transit line.

Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Westchester, joined his council colleague, Bernard Parks, in seconding a motion May 1 that would direct bond funding towards constructing a station near the Inglewood border on Hindry Avenue, which has long been the hope of east Westchester residents.

"The March 15, 2013 report to the city administration office relative to Measure R Local Return Programming states that the Department of Transportation estimates that $259 million in bond proceeds could be available to combine with $54.5 million in cash for a total of $313.5 million between fiscal years 2014-18," the motion states.

The city would have $227 million in bond proceeds generated if Metro issued debt for the city and assuming that at least $200 million in bond proceeds could be generated, the city would be able to access $55 million in new revenue, according to the Public Resources Advisory Group, one of Los Angeles' financial advisors.

The motions asks the city transportation committee for an amendment that would include an instruction for the city's administrative officer to present a proposal to bond against future Measure R revenues to obtain a $40 million contribution from the city to build an underground station at Leimert Park and use $15 million toward a Hindry station.

Currently, there is one station at the end of the light rail line in Westchester at Century and Aviation boulevards, but light rail advocates have lobbied for an additional station closer to the eastern portion of Westchester.

The 8.5-mile light rail project will run between the Metro Expo Line on Exposition Boulevard and the Metro Green Line. It will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester, and Los Angeles International Airport area with six stations, a maintenance facility, park and ride lots, traction power substations and the acquisition of rail vehicles and maintenance equipment.

Westchester resident Judy Citreon was elated to hear about the renewed interest in a station near her home in east Westchester.

"It would be wonderful for people here in our neighborhood and local businesses to be able to access the mass transit system that is going to go all over Los Angeles," she said.

Rosendahl said having another station at Westchester will allow his constituents to travel throughout Los Angeles without using their vehicles, as Citreon said.

"This means that a lot of people don't have to get into their cars any more to go to (LAX)," the councilman said.

Rosendahl is the second legislator with local ties to explore funding for the Hindry station.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Westchester) is also seeking to help her constituents with a second station through a federal grant, which she announced March 13.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants for Job Creation Act, which was announced March 13, would provide $1 billion over a two-year period for transportation infrastructure, including light rail.

"These funds can certainly help with (stations in Leimert Park and Westchester)," the congresswoman told The Argonaut. "With these grants, cities and counties can apply for more funding for the transportation projects that they have identified."

In recent months, there have been discussions about an extension into LAX. Airport officials as well as Rosendahl support a direct extension to LAX from the Crenshaw Line.

Playa del Rey resident Jim Kennedy is also in favor of another Westchester stop.

"There are many very positive, common sense reasons for building the station," said Kennedy, a former Rosendahl field deputy. "Westchester doesn't have a station, as Century/Aviation will be very expensive parking for the airport. Many residences and businesses are within walking distance with quick access from the 405 (freeway) and bus lines, (there is) a 2.5-mile gap between La Brea and Florence avenues and Century and Aviation boulevards and (it is projected to) cost only $10-15 million."

Kennedy echoed a familiar refrain regarding the Century and Aviation station, which is within the Westchester border. Some residents have stated that it does not qualify as a true light rail stop because it is at the end of the Crenshaw/LAX line.

He also feels that a second Westchester station will "encourage beautification and community revitalization, and many more community benefits."

In 2011 Rosendahl's office created an online petition to back a motion by county Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe for transit authorities to include a stop at Hindry Avenue in the construction bids for the light rail line.

"Supervisor Knabe's motion to include the Hindry/Westchester station in the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Corridor project construction bids would provide for a future Westchester station if it can be designed and constructed within the project budget," the petition stated. "The motion would also keep open the opportunity to pay for a station from sources outside the Metro budget, should funding become available.

"A Hindry station could spur the type of urban renewal that would bring vast economic and community benefits to this under-utilized corridor in Westchester," the online petition continued. "Further, it would close an unusually long gap of 3.5 miles between stations in the currently approved project."

Prior to countywide redistricting in 2010, Knabe represented all of Westchester.

Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas represents both Leimert Park and Westchester east of Lincoln Boulevard, but has publicly lobbied only for the former.

In an amendment to Knabe's motion, Ridley-Thomas asked that a second Westchester station be included as a "bid option" during the construction procurement phase and be conditional upon a Leimert Park underground station.

Rosendahl thanked Parks for bringing the motion forward.

"I appreciate that Bernard appreciated our desire for another station in Westchester," he said. "I'm very optimistic about this."


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