By Sue Favor
CRENSHAW — The opening of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line is still about eight months away, but drivers already are being prepared for its launch.
This month, the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department joined with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to enact a photo enforcement program at 10 key intersections along Crenshaw Boulevard to deter drivers from disobeying traffic signals.
Through this month, motorists caught on camera making illegal left-hand turns at the intersections will receive warning letters. After the warning period ends Nov. 1, violators will be ticketed. Fines will average around $100, and may include additional penalties and assessments.
The effort is designed to prevent vehicle and train collisions and resulting injuries and fatalities, as well as increasing pedestrian safety. Photo enforcement already takes place on most of the MTA’s rail lines and has proven successful at reducing collisions since its implementation in 1995.
The MTA began intermittent train testing runs along the Crenshaw line last December, and will continue them until the delayed project is completed. The line, which will make crucial connections between other light rail routes, was initially set to open in late 2019.
The project is 99% complete, but the remaining work is complex and includes the installation of critical safety systems. Those include train control signals, underground station and tunnel ventilation, radio systems, backup power, fire and smoke alarm systems, electricity delivery to trains and stations, and intrusion alarms.
After that work is completed, all systems must pass operation and safety tests.
An MTA spokesperson said that the agency’s contractor, Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors, didn’t complete work to MTA standards, and in some cases the work had to be redone, as it was deemed unsatisfactory.
Walsh Shea has said that work will be completed by the end of this year. The MTA will then need five months for additional testing, certification and operator training, the spokesperson said. The rail line is due to open mid-2022.
In the meantime, the agency hopes to prepare motorists to navigate Crenshaw Boulevard with the new rail system.
“[The MTA] is dedicated to reducing the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities associated with red-light violations at all streets and highway rail-grade crossings,” the spokesperson said. “Helping ensure motorist safety and the safety of the surrounding community will be a key agency priority before, during and after the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line opens to the public.”
Photo enforcement is being conducted at the following intersections: Southbound Crenshaw to 48th Street east, southbound Crenshaw to 52nd Street east, northbound Crenshaw to 52nd Street west, southbound Crenshaw to 54th Street east, northbound Crenshaw to 54th Street west, northbound Crenshaw to 57th Street west, southbound Crenshaw to 59th Street east, northbound Crenshaw to 59th Street west, southbound Crenshaw to Slauson Avenue east and northbound Crenshaw to Slauson Avenue west.
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.