South LA loses trees in Crenshaw/LAX Metro line construction

Construction for the new metro rail line on Crenshaw blvd.

Construction for the new metro rail line on Crenshaw blvd.

The new 8.5 mile Crenshaw/LAX light rail line could change the look of South L.A. by bringing an influx of businesses and pedestrian traffic. It could change the South L.A. landscape in another way, too: By cutting down about 100 trees along a two mile stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard between Exposition and 48th street to make room for the train.

Romell Pace, a local who sells shirts at the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson Boulevards, said the trees need to stay.

“Once the trees are removed… it’s going to be slow on business,” he said. “I believe that the trees should stay there because they are landmarks.”

Listen to the voices of Crenshaw corridor residents and business-owners in an audio piece from Annenberg Radio News: 

LA's most popular trees.

Garry George, the conservation chair for the L.A. Audubon society, said he supports the extension of public transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. But he’s concerned that the cost is removing trees.

“All of L.A. needs more greenery — it’s better for the birds, better for the people, it’s going to cool us down as the temperature gets hotter,” said George. “In L.A. we have a saying: ‘Kill your lawn… and plant some trees and native plants.'”

Construction on the new Metro line will take approximately five years to complete. Metro and its’ contractors will begin excavation of the Crenshaw/Expo underground station by the end of April. In May, construction on a station at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards will begin.

How many trees will ultimately get cut down? Metro’s website says the city will make the final decision.

But one day, the trees could rise again: In Phase One of construction Metro plans to plant two young trees for each mature one that has to go.

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