Metro begins tests for Expo Line, a controversial topic in South Los Angeles

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News story:


On Monday, Metro began testing its Expo Line tracks. A high-rail truck pulled an empty light-rail train to test side clearance and overhead.

image “This is just a slow walking speed type test,” said Jim Jasmin, Metro’s start-up manager. “When we get to an object, if it looks iffy, we’ll stop. We’ll move up slowly until we get to it and then check the measurements and go on.”

Jasmin and other safety officials wearing bright yellow vests with orange reflectors followed alongside the train.

“It’s a very long process,” Jasmin said. “It’s going to be a couple of days before we get this all done just in this short, start up section of the line.”

There are 10 new stations included in Phase 1. The stops include the University of Southern California, Exposition and Crenshaw, Farmdale and Culver City. The estimated travel time between downtown and Culver City will be 30 minutes, according to Metro officials.

But the Expo Line construction came with controversy. South Los Angeles community members and activists expressed concern over unsafe railroad crossings in low-income and minority neighborhoods, especially at the Farmdale station near Dorsey High School.

Damien Goodmon, coordinator of the Fix Expo citizens’ campaign, called for every intersection of the Expo Line to have a grade-separated crossing.

“We needed to do this for a variety of reasons,” Goodmon said. “There was injustice and injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere. Dr King. And two, we had to establish that you can’t just assume that since you’re coming through a black and brown community that you’ll be able to build any kind of way.”

The California Public Utilities Commission Board voted in 2010 to support a plan that called for safety improvements. The improvements included station platforms and speed restrictions.

But the Federal Transit Administration’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether or not Metro complied with the Civil Rights Act. Title 6 states that any program receiving federal funding cannot discriminate in any way.

“And so that is one long fought for victory you can say,” Goodmon said. “From that standpoint, getting them to look at that project and maybe imposing sanctions upon Metro for violations, we would hope would lead to corrective actions that will prevent this type of disparity in future projects.”

The $862 million Expo light rail line is entirely funded by Metro. Metro has not yet set an official date for the start of passenger service. But they hope to be done with most of Phase 1 by November 15, 2011. Completion all the way to Culver City might not happen until early next year, according to Metro.


  1. I’m sorry, but this guy Damien Goodmon is ridiculous. He’ll never be satisfied, and it doesn’t matter anyways, a large project like this one shouldn’t try to satisfy one person. This project was always safe from the start, and now it’s extra, extra, safe. This whole thing is a waste of print space. Please don’t give Mr. Goodmon any more attention he doesn’t have any cause worth fighting for, or worth listening to.

  2. Goodman adds nothing and has been trounced again and again after dragging out tired racial stereotypes.

    He’s a proven loser and an opportunist. He’s been out of the news and done nothing for well over six months. Let him lick his wounds in peace.

  3. Fred Green says:

    Putting the entire line in a trench has never been done anywhere in the entire United States, and that includes lines that go through neighborhoods with a large proportion of people of color living there.

    Damien Goodmon is a bright guy, but quite naive. The fact that the Expo line exists at all is a positive for the community. Yes, there is some amount of risk, but automobiles kill 40,000 people every year in this country. I don’t see Mr. Goodmon advocating that all automobiles travel underground, separate from pedestrians. Well, that would be ridiculous! Yes, it would. Just as ridiculous as placing the entire Expo line in a trench.

  4. canvas print says:

    Well I just don’t know what to think anymore, hopefully something it will turn out for the best?

  5. Interurbans says:

    Goodmon cost us all millions of dollars, bad feelings from residents along the way and delays so he could get political recognition as a political grass roots organizer. His interest is Goodmon, not safety or the neighborhood. Will we find him out again causing decent for his cause to promote Goodmon on the Crenshaw Line which has some funding and is now in the design stage. Let’s hope that he does not cost us millions again with delays and getting the neighborhood angry over false allegations of racial injustice and lack of safety.

    At least the Expo line will be running and people along the way will be able to see for themselves just how safe the line is. Especially compared to the safety of crossing a street which is not near as safe as crossing a LRT line.

  6. I should like to enquire of Mr Goodmon why it is that crossing a light rail line with a few trains per hour, professionally operated, is so much more dangerous than crossing any street intersection with hundreds of motor vehicles per hour, controlled (maybe!) by amateurs?

    I should also like to enquire what Mr Goodman’s credentials are as an expert on any portion of light rail design and operation?


  7. Spokker says:

    Freeways blighted poor, non-white communities. In fact, they were targeted for freeway construction because they were non-white and poor.

    Light rail on the other hand, will actually be used by the non-white poor. One black man who spoke at the final public meeting where Expo Phase 2 was approved thought that building light rail would help integrate neighborhoods.

    I don’t quite share his optimism, but this line will not only open up this area to outsiders, but provide a smoother ride for nearby residents.

Speak Your Mind