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Compton Rallies to Reroute Freight Trains Away From City Hall

November 17, 1985|WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — After rallying on the steps of City Hall, about 200 residents and officials packed a county transportation hearing Wednesday to support a plan to reroute freight trains away from where the proposed Los Angeles-to-Long Beach light rail will pass through downtown.

"We have never been against the light rail," Mayor Walter R. Tucker said before the hearing. "What we are saying is the people (who light-rail officials) envision helping are going to be hurt if they don't have a grade separation" that would keep city streets unimpeded.

Current plans by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission call for freight trains and light-rail trolleys to run on street-level tracks down Willowbrook Avenue, which cuts north-south through the Compton business district and directly in front of City Hall.

But the so-called MC-5 rerouting plan would divert the freight trains to existing tracks two blocks east along Alameda Street at a cost of about $29 million. Another $9 million to $14 million would have to be spent to construct an automobile overpass or underpass at Rosecrans Avenue, a major east-west thoroughfare.

Standing beneath a banner that said "Don't Let the Trains Destroy Compton," Tucker told the rally: "It costs much more money to put a subway from Los Angeles to Beverly Hills than to put a grade separation in Compton. We know there is money available; we just want Compton to get its share."

Ground was broken last month on the $675-million light-rail project, with the Compton issue still to be resolved. The purpose of Wednesday's hearing was to let Compton residents comment on the plan and an accompanying inch-thick report that rates the potential environmental effects. While the report stated that traffic flow would be improved, the rerouting also would force as many as 147 residents and five businesses to relocate.

Erica Goebels, the commission's public information officer, said staff members took testimony from about 30 city officials, clergy and residents, all of whom were in favor of the rerouting. She said the issue will not be decided until the Transportation Commission meets next February.

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