It has been six years, nine months and three days since the fateful February day in 2001 where the gear system of the Angels Flight funicular railway failed and killed one person while injuring seven.
But while the adjacent pocket park is being renovated, renovation and reconstruction of the Flight itself has yet to happen.
The update remains the same from Angels Flight Railway Foundation president John Welborne: "Angels Flight will reopen in __(insert arbitrary month here, which inevitably passes by)__, once we have our funding." The response, aside from that arbitrary month that inevitably comes and goes, had been uttered by Welborne so many times, it's made scratched records jealous. Welborne's constantly-revised advertisement in the pages of the Los Angeles Downtown News boasting the constantly-revised re-opening date is worth a chuckle in tiself.
The issue has been complicated by a seemingly possessive power-struggle between Welborne and the MTA, which had offered to assume the renovation costs and operation of the funicular. But Welborne, who was informally "knighted" by Mayor Tom Bradley to lead the Flight's pre-1996 rebuilding effort during his suggestion to the mayor at the City's 1981 Bicentennial festivities (hence Welborne's insistent entitlement to the railway), simply would not let "his" baby go without a fight.
The only renovation and repair that was actually completed was that of the railcars themselves, Sinai and Olivet, which are now being stored at the (M) Red Line Yard and Shops along Santa Fe Street in the Arts District (pictured above), waiting for their wings (okay, in their case, wheels) to be re-fitted on.
Since Downtown has gone on without the Flight for nearly seven years, should this all be an issue before all those big-ass Grand Avenue developments come to fruition? The flight had already missed out on its own centennial in December 2001. Or should Angelenos wait for another century (with constantly-updated arbitrary opening dates which inevitably come and go) before all this happens again?
Enough of this childish possessiveness, says the Militant. Welborne's initial resurrection of the Flight after nearly three decades was commendable, but it's time to let go and give in for the greater good of the City.
MILITANT UPDATE: Is the Militant psychic or what? The Los Angeles Downtown News has just reported that the Angels Flight Railway Foundation has already raised 88% of the $3.3 million required to reopen, with the latest arbitrary changeable date set to "December 31, 2007," pending the raising of the remaining 12% of the funds.
The Militant will believe it when he finally sees a crane lowering Sinai and Olivet onto the tracks.
Angels Flight (in exile) photo by Tim Quinn.