By Dennis J. Freeman
INGLEWOOD — A 1.8-mile automatic people mover that would connect Market Street with the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail system is being proposed by the city.
The travel system would run from Market Street and Florence Avenue to downtown Inglewood. Among the stops it would make are at the Forum, the under-construction NFL stadium and the proposed basketball arena for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Some residents sounded excited about the improvements the city has undertaken recently.
Dee Williams has been a resident of Inglewood for more than 40 years. She was one of the individuals impressed with the presentation made and where the city is headed.
“I’m happy because there have been so many changes in Inglewood over the years,” Williams said. “Market Street used to be a hang place for me in high school. It was so thriving. Now we have storefronts that are empty, so to bring back the money and the value back into Inglewood is something that I’m looking forward to.”
The direct onus on the city is to find a way to get people to the main arteries of Inglewood where all the main entertainment, retail and eatery draws will be. After exploring ways to make that happen, the Inglewood Transit Connector is expected to be the city’s solution to connect with the Crenshaw LAX Light Rail system to host the hordes of people city officials hope will come into Inglewood.
Longtime Inglewood resident Diane Sambrano is not too thrilled about all of the developments taking place in the city, especially the cost of the people mover.
“I don’t think we are at the point where anyone has thought about the maintenance of these automatic people movers,” Sambrano said. “We didn’t think about the parking where the automatic people movers will spend their evenings, whose land they are going to be on. Are we going to be displacing residents? Are we going to be displacing businesses to service an entity that we cannot afford? Who will be losing? We know who will be gaining.”
The projected number of annual ridership is expected to be over 2.5 million people. The statistics for event-related functions are expected to be just over one million people. If the people mover is built all the way to Century Boulevard, the number jumps to nearly three million people.
That makes for great financial undertaking. The proposed Market-Manchester route would come at a cost of $614 million for the 1.8 miles. Taking the system to Century would cost $769 million.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts is thrilled with how the city is moving forward in its quest to become the sports and entertainment capital.
“Connecting residents, fans, employees, shoppers and patrons to a world-class sports and entertainment district that activates and enhances a full range of employment and entertainment opportunities is the future of Inglewood,” Butts said. “Conducting the needed analysis to get this right for Inglewood residents and visitors is the next step in turning what once was just a vision into operational reality.
“The new Inglewood will provide local jobs, affordable housing, along with world-class entertainment for Inglewood residents and visitors throughout the world.”
The next step in the process is receiving public comments on the people mover proposal. That deadline is Aug. 15 so the city can begin evaluating the input it has received from residents like Sambrano and Williams.