State commission announces decision on Expo Line

By ROBERT PERKINS, City News Service - The Wave Newspapers
Story Published: Feb 20, 2009 at 2:03 PM PST

After months of delay, the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday approved one of two disputed street crossings of the planned Exposition Light Rail Line through South Los Angeles.

Residents and school officials objected to the crossings near Dorsey High School and Foshay Learning Center, saying they would be unsafe for students.

On a 4-to-1 vote, the commission approved the crossing near Foshay, where there is already a pedestrian tunnel the tracks would go over, but a pedestrian bridge or flyover at Dorsey.

"The existing tunnel crossing [at Foshay] is safe and adequate for pedestrian use,'' said Commissioner Rachelle Chong, who proposed the approval of the crossing.

Expo Chief Operating Officer Samantha Bricker said construction at Foshay would begin as soon as possible, adding that the Expo Construction Authority would likely choose to build a bridge - the cheaper option - at Dorsey.

According to Chong, only 250 students need to use the tunnel at Foshay.

Commissioner Michael Peevey, who supported Chong's motion, said he had visited the site to see the tunnel in use. He said the construction of a bridge would likely require the demolition of some of the homes in the neighborhood opposite the school.

The decision partially reverses a preliminary ruling made last October by a PUC judge who denied both crossing applications, saying that installing pedestrian bridges instead would be "practicable.''

Damien Goodmon, coordinator for a coalition of neighborhood groups that have protested the crossings, vowed to continue the fight.

"We still have quite a few legal weapons in our arsenal,'' Goodmon said. "This is not over.''

The lone dissenting opinion on the commission Friday came from Commissioner Timothy Simon, who had proposed requesting that the Exposition Construction Authority conduct more study on the crossing at Foshay.

Simon said Chong's plan "jumps the gun by first approving the grade separated crossing at Harvard [near Foshay] without seeing the Expo Authority's plan to make any improvements to the tunnel.''

Chong responded that she wanted to avoid unnecessary delay.

The $836 million, 8.5-mile Expo Line will connect downtown Los Angeles and Culver City.


Posted by erniemixon on 02/22/2009
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