We Need High-Speed Rail in California, But Not At The Expense Of L.A.'s Urban Parks


Los Angeles State Historic Park, Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station (photo by NRDC)

High-speed rail is on its way to California, and that’s a good thing.  But it needs to be done right.  In Los Angeles, that means making sure the proposed route avoids sensitive community resources in the downtown area.  Yesterday, NRDC and seven other leading environmental and community organizations sent a letter calling on the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) to steer the eventual route away from two important downtown state parks, Los Angeles State Historic Park and Rio de Los Angeles State Park, as well as the Los Angeles River and the communities surrounding these critical neighborhood assets.

These two state parks serve low-income communities, many of which don’t have the same access to parks and green space as other neighborhoods.  Los Angeles State Historic Park, also known as the Cornfield, has wide open spaces for recreation and houses valuable historic artifacts just under its surface that tell the story of early Los Angeles.  And Rio de Los Angeles State Park, known also as Taylor Yard, boasts a state-of-the-art wetlands restoration project and athletic fields that are often teeming with the bustling activity of neighborhood children. 

NRDC believes high-speed rail will have benefits for California.  It will reduce global warming pollution by providing a clean transportation alternative to long-distance car and plane travel.  It will promote sustainable land use and create jobs.  We support all of these things, but as planning for this massive project proceeds and more details come into view, we have to make sure the eventual route avoids critical community resources.

In this letter, we and our community allies offer our support for a tunnel that would run underneath the parks and the Los Angeles River, thus avoiding any adverse impacts to the parks, the River, or the surrounding communities.  We believe protecting these important community assets in Los Angeles’s densely populated urban core is a worthy investment.

We are bringing our message to an informational meeting that HSRA is holding tonight at the MTA Building (One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA).  An “open house” will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., where we've been told that display boards will be up in the lobby and project team members will circulate and be available to answer questions on a one-on-one basis.  Formal presentations by HSRA staff will take place at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., and comment cards will be available for folks to leave written comments.  We will be there tonight to let the HSRA know how we feel, and we encourage anyone who’s interested in this important issue to do the same.