BOYLE HEIGHTS : Hospital Expansion Decision Expected

The County Board of Supervisors will consider approving the final environmental document regarding the proposed expansion of the County-USC Medical Center at its April 7 meeting.

Plans call for buying out the homes and businesses on Cummings, Chicago, Charlotte and Cornwell streets and razing them as soon as the first of the estimated 200 families are moved out, perhaps within months.

The vote comes as officials are preparing a formal proposal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to allow the use of federal earthquake relief money for the construction of the proposed $1-billion complex.

Project Director Fernando Vizcarra said his team will prepare an overall plan for the accelerated construction project over the next six months.

"We feel fairly certain that we're going to get something, but we don't know what (amount) exactly," Vizcarra said.

The Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake caused an estimated $400 million in damage to 16 buildings at the complex, leaving some uninhabitable and making it necessary to fund some replacement buildings sooner than originally scheduled.

The federal money could shorten the proposed eight-year building process to two.

The construction will consolidate the County-USC hospital and other hospitals on the 72-acre campus into one building that will have six- to 15-story wings. The main hospital building may be saved for use as an office building.

The first phase of construction will be a 3,000-space parking garage near Cummings Street. That will begin as soon as homes can be assessed, bought out and razed, said Vizcarra, perhaps as early as this summer.

The Environmental Impact Report is available for public review at the medical center project office, Interns and Residents Building, 2020 Zonal Ave., and at the following public libraries: Benjamin Franklin Branch, Malabar, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Chinatown, City Terrace and the Central Library.

The supervisors' meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Board Auditorium, Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St.

For more information, call (213) 226-6873.

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