Station Coming to Leimert Park

Amid cheers and sighs of relief, the two-year struggle by civic leaders and neighborhood activists, merchants, clergy and the elected officials representing South Los Angeles paid off Thursday with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approving funding for a train station stop in Leimert Park Village.

Acting on a motion co-sponsored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and four other Metro directors, the board voted to include the Leimert Park Village station in the new Crenshaw-to-LAX light rail line after securing the necessary funding in its upcoming budget.

[raw]Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who is also on the Metro board and who has championed the Leimert Park station for years, greeted the vote with a deep sense of satisfaction and gratification.

“I am delighted that the board has approved funding to make this historic community a train stop,” he said. “Leimert Park is an iconic neighborhood in Los Angeles. All we have ever said is that it should be treated on par with our county’s other great cultural landmarks.”

The most recent estimate for the Leimert Park station is $120 million and Metro’s fiscal year 2014 budget contains $460.5 million in uncommitted funds—more than enough to safeguard against a significant cost overrun. Further burnishing the station’s funding prospects was the recent commitment by the Los Angeles City Council of $40 million toward the design and construction of the station.

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose support for the Leimert Park station was crucial, also noted that Leimert Park will serve an important role in the transportation needs of the county.

“The fate of the Leimert Park Village station on the Crenshaw/LAX line has – up until today – been uncertain,” he said. “I am proud to say that both the City of Los Angeles and Metro have stepped up to the plate and committed a total of $120 million to fully fund the Leimert Park Village station. We worked together, we got creative, and we never gave up. I look forward to seeing the upcoming designs so that this project can move forward and serve our entire region.”

Two years ago, despite overwhelming support for a station from a broad coalition, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted to build one only if it could fit within the existing $1.7 billion-budget allocated for the overall project, leaving the station’s future in question. Today, that station’s future is secure and area neighborhoods can look forward to an economic boost once it is built.

Nolan Rollins, president of the Los Angeles Urban League, said the Leimert Park station will play a key role for businesses in the community.

“This decision will stimulate more revenue coming into the coffers of this area,” said Rollins. “We are going to provide an opportunity for businesses and jobs to flourish.”

Once built, the new Crenshaw-to-LAX line will take travelers to the airport, as well as transport workers employed by restaurants, hotels, rental car fleets and other airport-related industries, to their jobs.  And lastly, a station in the village would connect the region to the city’s African American cultural center, as do the stations in Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Culver City and Mariachi Plaza.

The inclusion of the station will only improve Los Angeles’ transportation system, said Metro director John Fasana.

“Today we not only made for a better Crenshaw line,” he said “But also for a better Metro system.”