The Los Angeles County Metro board expressed concerns over the gondola lift to Dodger Stadium, ranging from lack of transparency to effects on the community.
The Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LA ART) project has created a buzz since its unveiling and display in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, but more questions than answers have been raised since then and the Metro board discussed the gondola during the Metro Executive Management Committee meeting Thursday.
Rockwell presented the plans for the zero-emission gondola project, highlighting its canvassing efforts to 21,000 local homes, relaying information in Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Spanish, as well as 17,000 flyers mailed out about the project.
Metro board Director and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis brought up worries about public transparency, saying the community impact has not been fully fleshed out or explained to residents.
“I do want to see that there are more public hearings,” Solis said. “I’m still very concerned that I’ve heard from residents repeatedly, especially in China Town… who have not been made fully aware of what the impacts are going to be, including the small businesses.”
While the LA ART, or aerial gondola project, is being fully funded by a private company which happens to be owned by former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, the Metro Board will still oversee the project’s environmental impact on the city, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act. With the aerial gondola using Union Station as a starting point in its trips, the project development is said to be in the “board’s best interest,” according to Holly Rockwell, Senior Executive Officer in the Metro Planning Dept.
Board director and Supervisor Janice Hahn questioned how the gondola would affect the current “Dodger Stadium Express” shuttle which currently transports fans to the stadium from Union Station, as she has been an advocate for keeping the shuttle going as an alternative to parking at the ballpark.
“There’s not a direct link between the projects. They’re not mutually exclusive. They can operate together,” Rockwell said of the gondola and shuttle. “We do see that as our transit system and the Union Station continues to expand, the demand to get from Union Station will continue to increase. There may be a demand for both.”
Board director and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti said he was initially skeptical of the LA ART gondola, but has grown to support the project, saying this type of transportation infrastructure can be good good for the city if done “thoughtfully.”
“I think that we believe in transit, inherently,” Garcetti said in the Metro meeting Thursday. “The idea of getting 10,000 people of the 50,000 that’ll come to a game… off of the roads, is still positive.”
The board plans to draft an Environmental Impact Report, giving a 45-day period for the public to comment during four meetings on the development, before receiving a final review and certification by Metro.
“It’s a proven mode of transit that works incredibly well,” Garcetti concluded. “It’s been very good for a lot of people in more hilly cities and it’s also helped workers and others access their transportation needs in a much more efficient way.”
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