LOS ANGELES (CN) - South Los Angeles residents challenged the approval of a $1.75 billion light rail project toward LAX airport, insisting that at least part of the line should go underground.
The Crenshaw Subway Coalition sued the Federal Transit Administration in Federal Court, seeking to stop the project on environmental grounds.
The "Crenshaw-LAX" project is an 8.5-mile light rail line which will link the Metro Green Line and Expo Line. It is under construction at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards.
The metro project came in for criticism after it became public knowledge that the line will stop 1 mile short of LAX.
The LA Weekly in January called the metro line a "monument to stupidity," and said that Los Angeles officials were "creating a potentially hobbling obstacle for the airport."
City leaders floated the idea of a tram or rail extension to bridge the remaining mile to LAX terminals, NBC News reported last year.
The coalition began its legal fight in November 2011, in Superior Court. But as a federal agency, the FTA exercised its right to remove the case to Federal Court.
The coalition claims that a subway would abate the environmental impact of street-level construction.
The complaint states: "The FTA's decision approving the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the regulations and guidelines implementing NEPA because, for instance, the environmental impact statement did not fully and adequately consider reasonable alternatives to the proposed project to include a below-grade (i.e., below ground) alignment along Crenshaw Boulevard between Exposition Boulevard and the Harbor Subdivision, particularly between 48th Street and 59th Street. The consideration of such an alternative is critically important to the citizens of the Crenshaw Boulevard community - a community who is actively engaged in productive efforts to improve and revitalize the Crenshaw Boulevard business district. The project threatens these planning efforts, including creating conflicts with plans adopted in furtherance of the community's revitalization goals. In addition, the project results in significant public safety and environmental impacts which have not been adequately examined." (Parentheses in complaint.)
The coalition seeks declaratory judgment for violations of the NEPA and an injunction revoking approval and funding for the project.
It is represented by Raymond Johnson, with Johnson & Sedlack, of Temecula.
Neither the coalition nor the FTA responded to emailed requests sent after business hours Wednesday.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.