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Expo Line phase II public meetings to begin

February 6, 2009 |  3:31 pm

Mayor Villaraigosa and MTA officials spoke late last year about victory of transit tax (Measure R) to pay for rail construction projects, including the Expo Line.

The draft environmental report for the second phase was released last week, and the meetings are designed to give the public a chance to provide feedback to the Expo Line Construction Authority, the government agency building the light rail line.

The authority supplied a briefing on the draft report for the media this morning in Culver City. A few interesting morsels popped up:

1. The authority still hopes to open the first phase to Culver City in 2010. But if there are delays resolving the crossings at Dorsey High and Foshay Learning Center, officials may try to open the line to Crenshaw Boulevard in 2010, said Samantha Bricker, chief operating officer of the authority.

2. There are two main routes under consideration -- using a combination of Venice and Sepulveda boulevards or an existing rail right-of-way that runs north of the 10 Freeway. But the draft environmental report says Venice isn't wide enough to accommodate a train, one reason officials say the right-of-way would be better.

Putting aside the issue of which route is best, I suggested the Venice conclusion doesn't pass the smell test, given that Venice is about as big and wide a street as they come. But Steve Polechronis, a senior vice president and project manager for the firm AECom, which is helping plan the line, said the Expo Line would require a 30-foot right-of-way on Venice. "When we looked block-to-block, we couldn't put a continuous line in there without losing those lanes," Polechronis said. My guess is this issue will arise at the public meetings.

3. If the train travels down the median of Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica, 42 trees will have to be cut down. Santa Monica activists are already on high alert, and Construction Authority officials said they're still trying to come up with a mitigation plan.

So the stage is set: Will a $1.3-billion-plus light rail line be held up by 42 trees? Only time will tell...

The dates and times of the public meetings are after the jump.

--Steve Hymon

Expo Line Draft Environmental Impact Report meetings:

Feb. 18, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Santa Monica High School
601 Pico Blvd.

Feb. 23, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services
3200 Motor Ave.

Feb. 25, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Webster Middle School
11220 W. Graham Place

Photo: Mayor Villaraigosa and MTA officials spoke late last year about victory of transit tax (Measure R) to pay for rail construction projects, including the Expo Line. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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