After early allegations of non-compliance from the MTA's contractor, backed up by the facts from the CLC's own documents, by Crenshaw resident and executive director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Damien Goodmon.
Bryan Pennington, Executive Officer for MTA.
Photos by Troy Tieuel
The Crenshaw/LAX Train line is coming, and with it a whole slew of issues, from financial repercussions to safety concerns that were addressed by the Community Leadership Council (CLC) Board meeting at the First Church of Christ, City of Hope in Inglewood Thursday July 28. Mixed emotions filled the capacity crowd, as the formal parts of the meeting ended and the public questioning began, initiated by Damien Goodman, CLC’s executive director. Goodman questioned the hiring practices of the Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors who he said, have been below compliance with regard to their hiring of African American workers.
“There’s an African proverb, that states, ‘If you understand the beginning well, the end will not trouble you,’ well this is very troubling,” he said.
“But it’s not at all surprising. Welch [the MTA approved contractor] has a history of failing to comply with [Project Labor Agreements], and yet they are the ones responsible for enacting this PLA. So we both have a problem with the criteria, and then we have a problem with the people administering it.”
“The reason that the CLC made sure this (the CLC Quarterly Pod Meeting) was available to the public,” retorted CLC Board Los Angeles Co-Chair, Tunua Thrash, “was so that people would know and could not say, ‘We did not know that is what the numbers are.’ The CLC was not happy with those numbers and felt like there needed to be a lot more work and we wanted to make sure that since this was [Welsh/Shae Constructors’] first time being here, that they would understand that these are not numbers that the community would find acceptable.”
According to figures presented by the CLC, almost 300 personnel will be working on the construction of the train line at any given time, with less than 9 percent of them being African American, far below the compliance number of 20 percent.
CLC Board Members, led by Arna Fulcher and Tunua Thrash, Inglewood and Los Angeles co-chairs respectively, shrugged off allegations of fraud and illegal dealings and focused on the more prevalent issues like public parking for businesses most affected by the incoming train line that will travel down Crenshaw, from the Expo Line, turning west on Florence, then south down Aviation until it reaches the LAX Airport.
The 8.5-mile extension of the Metro Expansion Line will include six new stations, including one at Leimert Park and another at Hindary and Aviation, which were added because of public outcry. The plans also include three new park and ride lots and a new maintenance facility at Arbor Vitae and Ballanca near LAX. The estimated budget for the Metro Rail Expansion is an estimated $2.058 billion and is estimated to open in the year 2019.
The subjects of career training, safety and public safety education repeatedly returned to the discussion as residents questioned the attitude of the MTA executives regarding the public, the incoming train and its impact on the community. According to the proposed construction map, several schools and parks will be affected including Crenshaw High, ICEF Charters, Inglewood High school on Manchester and their middle school. Edward Vincent Park and Roger’s Park are just blocks away from the construction areas. Some, like ICEF’s high school and Edward Vincent Park sit directly adjacent to proposed construction zones and students of all ages would be forced to cross through construction zones to travel to and from these locations daily. Faithful Central Church, which was mentioned by the board, but did not have a representative there, will have its campus split in two by the rail line construction.
According to public safety experts, children, who are naturally curious about construction sites, tend to gravitate towards them, unaware of the potential dangers. Representatives from the Inglewood Public Library, the school for the Junior Blind, and several other community business owners and residents expressed their concerns with the lack of transparency regarding the MTA’s plans on educating the area youth on construction safety.
“You will see many blind travelers, adult travelers, in our program that travel that area, going south on Alviso to Slauson to take the buses. They will walk down 54th street, and they will cross at Crenshaw Boulevard,” said Virginia Piper, an orientation mobility and instructor for the School for the Junior Blind on Angeles Vista four blocks away from the proposed Crenshaw/Vernon to the northeast and the Crenshaw/Slauson train stations to the southeast. “The safety issue that you were talking about, I appreciate you offering for me to put my name on the list [to be contacted about MTA safety training], but I really think you, as the travel agency, should be outreaching and looking specifically at the schools in the area and going to them, because a lot of these schools are not going to know of your safety program. And I think it’s your responsibility to do that.”
Piper went on to describe how above grade train stations are particularly difficult for the blind travelers to navigate and pleaded for below grade or subterranean subway stations.
“We don’t do this alone,” said Rob Ball, MTA’s director of the Crenshaw/LAX Extension project. “We work very closely with the Public Defender’s Commission, who has a safety oversight on what we do. During construction, Erica Lopez has a safety-training program that we take out to the schools. They have already started doing that since last spring. They are going to continue to go out there and reach out to the schools, kids, parents and the adults on how to be safe around construction. Actually, they do a very good job doing that. “
According to Jose Ubaldo, communications manager for the Media Relations Department at the MTA, schools, churches and other organizations who feel the need to be trained or have their students and staff trained can submit a request by calling the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor hotline at (213) 922-2736.
The Community Leadership Council (CLC), formed in March of 2011, is an advisory board appointed by Metro to represent the interests of the community and the businesses affected by the expansion line and its construction. CLC’s quarterly meetings are open to the public and its board is comprised of stakeholders who live or work within the communities around the expansion line.
For more information, including a full list of CLC Membership visit www.metro.net/crenshaw.