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Route chosen for Santa Monica portion of Expo Line

After two decades of hearings and studies, the board of the Exposition Line has voted to use the existing right-of-way to extend the light rail line to Santa Monica.

The board rejected a proposal to have the Culver City-to-Santa Monica line go along Venice and Sepulveda boulevards.

The existing right-of-way runs along the southern edge of Cheviot Hills. Some residents in that upscale community have been fighting to use a different route, expressing concern that the line would bring pollution, noise and other problems.

-- Martha Groves


Comments () | Archives (13)

I was present at the meeting and made my public comments. Here is a detailed report of the meeting:

**** The Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line railroad right-of-way has been adopted for the Phase 2 segment of the Expo Line. ****

After 20 years of fight, it's all over. Today the Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line right-of-way that goes through northern Palms, southern Cheviot Hills, and Rancho Park has been adopted for the Expo Line. The board has voted unanimously with all members present.

The motion has adopted the Air Line right-of-way and the Colorado Ave alignment, i.e. LRT No. 2.

The motion additionally directed the Expo staff to address all the comments raised during the DEIR and work further on sensitive areas such as grade separation and maintenance facility. It asked the staff to come back to the board with a report on these sensitive areas in 60 days.

The DEIR process is now complete, with the route adopted. The next step is to finalize the EIR and generate the FEIR, making changes to the details as necessary. The FEIR will also include some form of preliminary engineering. FEIR will be completed by the end of the year and will be certified by the Expo board. Once the FEIR is certified by the Expo board, the project will be official and it will be submitted to the design - build company in early 2010, to be completed circa 2014.

I should mention that all board members were very supportive of the DEIR. Zev Yaroslavsky in particular was very considerate about possible impacts and raised issues about street restriping that need to be addressed. He also stressed very strongly that this line will be built no matter what, while addressing the faction of various homeowners'-association presidents and officials from the Westside. He made it clear to their face that there is no other way. He said that delays will not be tolerated because we needed this now. He also emphasized that grade separations in Phase 2 will be determined exactly in the same way as in Phase 1 and there will not be any environmental-justice issue. He also made it clear that the maintenance facility will be in Santa Monica and it cannot be underground. He gave the large West Hollywood bus facility (former Pacific Electric major rail yard) as an example saying that it's literally adjacent to residences (not just across the street like the Verizon facility) and it had been determined that it was not feasible to put it underground. Zev also stressed that the Westwood Blvd Station is the most important station for Phase 2 and, addressing the homeowners'-associations-presidents faction, he said that he knew they didn't want it but it was needed absolutely and it would happen.

Out of the 53 people who spoke for a minute today, an overwhelming majority were supporters, except for a faction of homeowners'-association presidents and officials from the Westside, all supporting the railroad right-of-way. This faction left the meeting unhappily, but I hope that they understand the importance and benefit of this project.

My impression now is that Expo Phase 2 is now on autopilot and I don't expect any problems further down on the road. Things should go very smoothly from now on.

Another note from the Expo board meeting today:

Fix Expo stated that they will launch a nuclear war on April 24. They said that this is environmental racism and since Phase 1 is federally funded (which is hardly true in reality), they will stop both Phase 1 and Phase 2 and annihilate the federally funded Westside subway extension, as well as all other future rail-transit projects.

Earlier there was a lot of mention of Dr. King's name by them, which I thought was irrelevant and disrespectful.

To the homeowners of Cheviot Hills, it ain't goin to bring da ghetto to ya neighborhood so loosen up. In all seriousness, we live in S.Pasadena and enjoy having the convenience of the Goldline. Can't wait to take it all the way to the beach.

Hooray! This is the best option for sure. Cheviot Hills will ultimately benefit from this. It will be beautiful stretch - much like the Gold Line.

About time.

Can you imagine if the subway/ red line extension had been built 2 decades ago when the feds were throwing money for mass transit at every big city but L A, how much better off we'd be now? While traffic wouldn't have disappeared, many of us would have been happy to take the subway from downtown to Santa Monica and parts in between like Hollywood. Ridiculous it stopped there instead of all the way.

Now that line won't be done for another 20 years at the current rate, of billions more, while even this above- ground Expo Rail line has been held back by years because of their battling and bickering. Hard to believe many groups maintain that we can solve our problems by just more road capacity.

What a pity that a handful of NIMBY homeowner groups could hold the whole city hostage this way.

Want to see public transit done right? Require those who serve on controlling boards and design groups to give up their cars while serving.

If you have a car or worse a chauffeur, you have no clue as to how to best design and create good public transit.

Spend a couple years with no car and I guarentee you'll find a lot of good ideas as to how to improve the system.


Now can we get a light rail line from downtown LA into Glendale?

How about building a Class 1 bicycle lane along side the Expo line while you have the chance? Class 1 = dedicated to bicycles -no cars.

I can't believe it. Finally common sense has prevailed. But the fact is I will not believe it until construction begins and decisions have been made about grade separations. Based on prior experience we can spend another 20 years to get to the next stage, though I hope not, as Zev said there is no choice it must be built and it must be built now. It also has to include sufficient parking at the stations so people can drive to the line, park, and then ride downtown or where ever they are going. On the Westside there are limited north/south routes, Westwood Blvd., Overland Blvd., and Sepulveda. Block any of those three streets with trains going east/west and you are going to have a nightmare. I'm not familiar with the traffic counts on the north/south routes in Phase I.

I fear the shortage of funds may adversely impact the grade separations and the parking facilities. Without the parking facilities the system isn't going to work successfully. When they ran short of money at Lankershim and Chandler in the valley they eliminated a good portion of the parking and it hurt ridership until the Gold line was built in the Valley.

Isn't it funny that now Steve's gone that we have to rely on posters like Gokhan to fill in the blanks? Unfortunately I have no confidence that someone who is not a paid reporter will show impartiality. Thanks L.A. Times for abandoning the transportation issue in Los Angeles.

The Expo Line has been one of the most hotly debated issues in Los Angeles for the last several years, so you would think that a local newspaper would run article after article about it in order to sell more papers. But the LA Times (which has gone on record supporting all of the proposed LA rail lines) has clearly made the decision that the less people know about the issues surrounding Expo the better. You may have noticed that the vast majority of Steve's posting on this blog about Expo never made it into the actual paper. Those few articles that did almost always ran on Saturday -- the lowest readership of the week (even this article by Martha Groves ran on Saturday -- two days after the meeting). This is also the why the board shuttered one of their most popular blogs – Bottleneck – and stuck it here hidden in LA Now.

The problem is that the members of the editorial board of the LA Times are more interested in acting as power brokers in Los Angeles than in selling newspapers. Their real estate developer friends are the main force behind these rail lines because rail allows more people to live and work in the same amount of real estate allowing for massive increases in development. The recent explosion in high rise construction both downtown and in Hollywood never would have happened without the rail we've built to date. Unfortunately for the LA Times, I believe their misguided focus on helping their political friends instead of informing the public is responsible for their massive drop in readership far more than the Internet – which is what they all want to blame.

But what the LA Times is most afraid to print (and has never reported) is that the Expo Authority has already publicly stated that "the Expo Line will not reduce traffic or congestion on the 10 freeway, any boulevard, or major street." And if the Expo Line doesn't take cars off the road, then it won't help the local environment much either. So far, the MTA has been unable to produce any evidence that any rail line they've built has ever improved traffic on any freeway, boulevard, or major street.

But the Expo Authority's recent report to the MTA board confirmed that traffic congestion was the main reason people supported the line. So, why do so many citizens mistakenly think that rail somehow helps traffic? Possibly because almost all our politicians repeatedly claim that rail is going to be the magic bullet for traffic congestion. A claim they can safely make because they know it's what people want to hear -- and because they know the LA Times won't ever call them on it.

Well, I can't agree with Alex's anti-rail arguments but I do agree with his and J's concerns about the departure of Steve Hymon from the Times. Mr. Hymon was one of the best transportation reporters ever at the Times, and his being let go was and is just awful for those of us who live here.

Mr. Hymon is a first-class act, and unlikely to be equalled or emulated at the Times on transportation. We should all recognize his being let go for what it is: a indication of a financial crisis of huge proportions for the Times.

"Possibly because almost all our politicians repeatedly claim that rail is going to be the magic bullet for traffic congestion. A claim they can safely make because they know it's what people want to hear -- and because they know the LA Times won't ever call them on it. "


Alex clings to the delusion that if we stop the Expo Line and the Purple Line extension that somehow he'll get to live an old-fashioned, suburban, government-preserved, automobile-only lifestyle in perpetuity in every part of the Westside -- as if we won't have ever-increasing density anyway. SCAG is predicting three million new Los Angeles County residents over the next three decades. As the limits of sprawl have been reached, that means increasing density.

Thwarting these rail projects won't stop the ever-increasing desnity on the Westside. What the Expo Line, Wilshire Line, Santa Monica Blvd. Line and eventual Sepulveda Line will give people are transportation options to maintain mobility and economic viability of the region.

While the concerns of Cheviot Hills and Hancock Park residents need to be listened to, and their concerns reasonably addressed, a few NIMBYs shouldn't be and won't be allowed to thwart the welfare of the entire region by sabotaging the building of these needed rail lines.

People who want to live in Sam Yorty's Los Angeles need a time machine more than anything else. People who want a low-density lifestyle will need to move to the actual suburbs. (Note: If you live in the middle of Los Angeles, you do not live in a suburb, nor are you entitled to a government-preserved suburban lifestyle just because you feel entitled to one in the middle of a major metropolitan city.)

Nice speech, Dan W. You show your true colors.

Those of us who speak in opposition to the group-think are not opposed to transit projects, just the poor planning that so far has been adopted, that assumes everyone fits into the transit-planner's dream world, and we should all just get out of the way and pay for the system you deem appropriate.

We have Expo running at-grade across Sepulveda as well as Lincoln. We're going spend the better part of $2 Billion on this line, and it is only to serve to further gridlock West LA and Santa Monica traffic.

It will only be a matter of time before "the train" kills somebody at Lincoln.

Pushing the Colorado alignment is a serious mistake, and the repercussions will be with us for a century.


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