Westchester wants to know what happened to its Metro station.
The proposed stop at Manchester Avenue and Aviation Boulevard on the Crenshaw/LAX line (which is marketed to take riders to the airport, even though the closest stop will be a mile walk from the terminals), is not included in Metropolitan Transit Authorities', aka Metro, plans.
Westchester Neighborhood Coucil board member Denny Scheider says "the station was promised initially."
Scheider adds that things changed when ...
... the Westchester station was downgraded to optional, which he was OK with because he was confident he could make it happen.
Then, at the latest train council meeting, Schneider found out that Metro was not even going to consider a station in Westchester.
When Schneider asked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a September 12 town hall meeting why the station was not going to be constructed, the mayor told him there were too many "financial constraints."
The environmental impact review (EIR) for the area raised the estimated cost of the project from $40 million to $82.
"The station is down 6-0 in the ninth inning," says Schneider.
Schneider, who sits on multiple boards concerning transit and airport issues, believes the "faulty" EIR overestimated the costs because there are too many unspecific proposals on the report, including multiple locations for the station.
"Not having a station along this area is a mistake," he says. "It makes logical sense."
Without a station at Manchester and Aviation, a 2.5 mile gap will run between the airport stop and the Florence and La Brea station. The average gap between stations on this line is one mile.
Local support is there; the Metro neighborhood meeting in Westchester had the largest turn out the board had ever seen, according to Schneider. But loud, vocal support has been lacking.
"In terms of who is screaming," says Schneider, "this station is the weakest link."
The other up-in-the-air station receiving earsplitting support is the Leimert Park station. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas wrote an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times begging the Metro not to skip over the south L.A. neighborhood.
Here is an excerpt:
"It is inconceivable to many of us who live, work and worship in South Los Angeles that the Crenshaw/LAX line would bypass the heart of the community by not having a station in [Leimert Park]. Rail stops have been shown to reinvigorate the neighborhoods in which they are placed."
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Westchester has received no support from Ridley-Thomas, other than giving a Schneider a verbal agreement that the his station will be open for bidding. Schneider believes there is little chance for a large enough bid will be offered.
CIty Councilmember Bill Rosendahl pleaded with the Metro board on September 22 to give the westside community a station, but it might be too little, too late.
Schneider is still holding on to the thread of hope that the station will receive a bid.
To continue the baseball analogies, he is the one die-hard fan, who is planted in his seat with a rally-cap on his head, while everyone else is heading for the parking lot, telling each other "it's over."