CRENSHAW : Rally Goers Call for New Rail Line

A host of politicians, local business people, community leaders and residents turned out for a rally last week to support the creation of a rail line that would serve the Crenshaw District, parts of the Westside and Inglewood.

County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, State Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and others gathered at the corner of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King boulevards to urge the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to consider building the Crenshaw-Prairie Corridor rail line. Burke, who spearheaded the rally and news conference, said that the rail line is crucial to the continued economic growth of all areas of the city involved, particularly South-Central Los Angeles.

"Crenshaw-Prairie is essential for commuters in Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills and Morningside Park, but it's also very critical for some of the others who are here--people from Inglewood, people from Hawthorne, people from the entire corridor west that will be totally unserved unless we have the Crenshaw line that goes north and south," she said.

If approved, the rail line would establish a mass transit link from the MTA's Red Line subway to the Mid-City area, Crenshaw District, Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills, Hyde Park, Westchester, Morningside Park, Inglewood, Lennox and Los Angeles International Airport.

A revised 20-year MTA plan, downsized to $65 billion from an initial $182-billion, 30-year plan, calls for the elimination of several proposed rail lines or extensions. Some that have already been eliminated include a line along the Pomona Freeway, another connecting Burbank and Glendale to Downtown, and another connecting Palmdale to the airport via the San Diego Freeway.

But Ridley-Thomas said that the inclusion of the Crenshaw-Prairie project among those that make the cut is crucial. Two days after the rally, the councilman authored and won passage of a council declaration in support of the rail line, which would cross portions of his district. The declaration urges the MTA to continue its search for funding sources and utilize new information contained in a recently released UCLA study on public transportation conducted by the Center for African American Studies.

"The (rail line) can be a vehicle for added mobility to jobs and increased economic development in a neglected area," said Ridley-Thomas, a former MTA board member. "It can be a concrete example of the MTA meeting its fair share and equity obligations to all the people in Los Angeles County."

Watson agreed that her constituents need and deserve the rail line. "We pay those gasoline taxes. We want them to be shared with the community," she said. "Our fight is just beginning."

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