The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday approved $80 million for an underground train station in Leimert Park Village along the Crenshaw Line, ending two years of uncertainty over the station's future.
The motion, sponsored by L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, ensures contractors will have funding for the station in historic Leimert Park, a hub of African American business and culture in South Los Angeles.
"The fate of the Leimert Park Village station on the Crenshaw/LAX line has — up until today — been uncertain," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also serves on the Metro board. "I am proud to say that both the city of Los Angeles and Metro have stepped up to the plate."
Crenshaw Line supporters clapped and cheered as the vote passed 10 to 1. Lakewood City Councilwoman Diane DuBois, who opposed the motion, questioned whether it was wise to spend $80 million of Metro's $460.5 million in uncommitted funds.
Officials have now approved $120 million for the Leimert Park Village station: $80 million from Metro, which will come from the general fund; and $40 million from the Los Angeles City Council, which will come from local returns from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax for transportation projects.
The 8.5-mile line would run south from the Expo Line at Exposition Boulevard along Crenshaw Boulevard through Inglewood, terminating at the Green Line near Los Angeles International Airport. The project is currently scheduled to open in 2018.
This is the first time the Metro board has decisively supported the Leimert Park station. In 2011, it voted to allow the station only if bidders on the Crenshaw Line contract could fit it into the proposed $1.7-billion budget.
Since then, Ridley-Thomas said, there has been "some cajoling, some praying, some pushing" to garner enough support.
A station at Leimert Park is as culturally important as the Gold Line stations in Little Tokyo, Chinatown and Mariachi Plaza, Ridley-Thomas said in an interview. He said the Leimert Park station will bring tourism money to the historic area, which struggled during the economic downturn.
"This is a village with a national presence," Ridley-Thomas said, adding that the area had wide economic and cultural influence. "This will be a huge shot in the arm."
Metro is scheduled to select a contract for the project at the board's June meeting, Villaraigosa's last after being termed-out as mayor. Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti will become a director July 1.