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Westside rail line's latest problem: Crossing called hazard for students. Is the cost worth the added safety?

A safety issue

The Expo Line -- L.A.'s first rail line into the Westside -- is already facing cost overruns and delays.

But now there is another controversy that could add up to $100 million to the price tag of the downtown-to-Culver City line.

The latest battle line in the effort to build the Expo Line has been drawn at Farmdale Avenue and Exposition Boulevard — a small intersection about 20 yards from Susan Miller Dorsey High School in Central Los Angeles.

If state regulators sign off on a grade crossing and station there, it will clear the way for completion of the line.  But the plan to lay track at street level near Dorsey has run into intense opposition from neighborhood associations, students, teachers, Dorsey alumni and community activists who have fought for almost four years to change the project's design.

TalkBackLAUnless the rails are elevated or put below ground like other sections of the project, they say the line will create an unacceptable risk for pedestrians and motorists, especially when students head to class in the morning and leave campus in the afternoon.

The school has about 1,600 pupils. The estimated cost to put the line underground at Farmdale would be at least $100 million, and an elevated section would cost at least $30 million. The amount does not include $1 million for every month of delay completing the project.

Read Times transportation writer Dan Weikel's full story here. He breaks down the situation in the video above. What do you think should be done with the Expo Line? Are more safety features worth the price tag? Share your thoughts below.

Photo: Dorsey High School students cross Exposition Boulevard at Farmdale Avenue. The intersection is the only one of the Expo light-rail line’s 38 grade crossings that still needs state approval. Safety has become an issue for students, parents, alumni and community activists. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (17)

This is absolutely ridiculous! Why wasn't this discussed and decided upon before the damn thing was built. It's practically finished. What are they supposed to do with it now? It's either spend another astronomical amount of money or let it set like a white elephant.

Why not build a pedestrian bridge or tunnel....Wouldn't it be just a little bit less expensive than making the tracks go over/under? Another idea is simply to look at scheduling. The school probably has high traffic for 15/20 minutes twice a day so why not try to schedule either the school start time or the train so that they don't roll through right before school starts or right after it lets out.
$100 million? Come on now!


Do the kids walk in front of moving cars?

Should every vehicle intersection be grade separated, paid for by car drivers?

wouldn't it be cheaper to make a pedestrian overpass?

Not knowing the "lay of the land" in the area involved, would it not be possible to erect a tall enough fence along the right of way to discourage all but those with a death wish? Should be cheaper. It takes conscious thought to climb a fence meant to keep people and children from hazardous places. Oh, wait, a fence is an attractive nuisance and encourages climbing. Well, that's out.

I love the photo showing them crossing the street. They could be hit by a car. We should remove all streets! Honestly, if they can cross the street without being hit, then they can cross train tracks. Roads are inherently more dangerous becuase cars aren't on a fixed track. How many people are killed by cars every year in LA and how many are killed by trains?

When will LA finally wake up to the proposal drawn up almost 60 years ago by Walt Disney: Public Transit Monorail.

Elevated means no traffic tie-ups, no pedestrian crossing dangers, no space taken from public streets, and no Hundreds of Millions of Dollars drilling in earthquake country to build underground tunnels.

Electric means GREEN, quiet, efficient transportation.

We've all been to Disneyland, THAT is LA's solution.

The more of the project that is above- or below-ground, the better. The MTA is going to get the blame when people die, as they do all too often on the Blue Line. Human life is too important - it's almost offensive for you to say "is the added safety worth the price?" Plus, the trains will move faster when they're not navigating street traffic, making the system more useful for everyone.

Sorry, but anyone who gets hit by a train deserves it. They're slow, loud, and impossible to miss with the arms that come down as they pass. Any death or injury can be chalked up to darwinism.

Thank you 'Save the Deserts'.

I'm sure a pedestrian tunnel would be bad since it might be a magnet for crime etc as others have been in the past.

Pedestrian bridges get the peds OFF the street at busy intersections. Are cheaper than floating a TRAIN over an intersection or tunneling.

The downside, you still have to deal with the dummies in the cars that will make the wrong decision of crossing the rail with all the lights and bells and horns blaring away. But at least its not our kids walking to/from school.

Wake up people, there are solutions to problems. Complaining isn't a solution, talk to your city counsel person, write to the MTA. Voice concern and ALSO add some value.

Also, this is an education thing. You have students at a school. What happens at a school? People learn! Teach the kids in homeroom (yeah, that 15 minutes per day that gets completely wasted) how to interact with the new rail car moving through their community. Bet it will save lives!

>>Are more safety features worth the price tag?

Yes. California's terrible fatality record is due almost entirely to the proliferation of level crossings in our state. To build another one, right near a busy school, is madness - how much is YOUR child's life worth?

Remove the Farmdale/Exposition intersection to eliminate a vehicle rail-crossing and then add a pedestrian overpass over the tracks and exposition, onto school property. A wall or fence between exposition and the school, will force use of the overpass.

I've got an idea - stay off of the tracks. Don't drive across them if you have to stop on them (state law). Don't walk across them if a train is coming. People just have no responsibility for their own actions I guess. Eh, that's what "Natural Selection" is for...

This is ridiculously stupid. People don't need to be coddled in such an absurd fashion! Not getting hit by a train is pretty easy, when you remember this handy trick: trains are only found on train tracks. Train tracks are big metal rails in the ground. When you find train tracks, recall that this is a logical place to find a train. A practical solution, then, is to verify by inspection of the surroundings that the tracks will be absent of trains when you wish to cross. If you are incapable of determining whether or not a train will intersect your location, you should probably seek help, and avoid routes that take you across train tracks. If you are concerned about this in a location that does not typically contain trains, such as your living room, you should make arrangements to enter a medical treatment facility posthaste. The only excuse for not sticking to these guidelines is if you are a baby, and then you should be concerned about the quality of your parents or guardians if they are expecting you to cross train tracks unattended.

It is very sad that student in Los Angeles are too stupid to be able to cross rail tracks safely by obeying the crossing lights and barricades.

All through Europe trains are on street level, they must be smarter there.

Tragic that Los Angeles school children cannot learn to cross a street safely and that the teachers in Los Angeles cannot teach this.

When they're done screwing this line up by adding a stop and slowing it down, it will be a $1 billion waste of money that will be slower to the westside than the #10 Big Blue Bus.


The local residents near Dorsey are absolutely right. The current design is a recipe for disaster especially if there is constant delays due to pedestrians.

All it will take is one mishap compounded with students being struck and voila what savings were proposed per the current street level design over a below/above street level station will cost millions more to settle and then there will be a 'study' to 'find' what can be done to prevent this happening again - let's raise/lower the rail system - oh BTW that will take the line out of commission for a year.

There's an overpass for La Cienega and a tunnel for Figueroa - do the same for Dorsey


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