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Expo Line project costs and delays are ballooning, will open only to Crenshaw next year

The Expo Line, the first rail project into the traffic-clogged Westside, is $220 million over its original budget and more than a year behind schedule, with officials saying additional delays and costs are possible.

The line was supposed to open this summer, running from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City at a cost of $640 million.

But the price tag has risen to $862 million, and transit officials say their goal for next year is to open just a portion of the route -- only as far west as Crenshaw Boulevard.

It is unclear what the ridership for such a short line would be, but it probably would be considerably less than the full run to Culver City. Officials are unsure when the Expo Line will reach Culver City or how much the total cost will be upon completion.

Read the full story here.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz

Comments () | Archives (16)

Why don't we just give these guys billions and billions of dollars so they can build a useless rail line to San Francisco. Then watch it go years and many more billions over budget.

The MTA should always outsource the building of a line. The MTA is always over budget and never on time. Going forward ever new line should be built by an agency independent of the MTA.

why isn't somebody rotting in jail for this? contractors, politicians, union reps, they are all a bunch of bloodsuckers and the dumb taxpayers end up with the bills. amerika, what a country.

I guess this delay was inevitable. The whole process has been an education in local politics for me.

In the Culver City and Cheviot Hills meetings, anti-rail people didn't want the train because they were worried about people from the 'ghetto' coming to their neighborhoods.

In the Jefferson Park meetings, anti-rail people were worried about the safety of the adjacent high schools, and said that if the rail were passing through white neighborhoods, they wouldn't dare put a rail next to a high school.

Add to that the initial arrogance of the Expo construction authority in saying that the don't need to make any concessions to safety in Jefferson Park, which only helped inflame an area that has dedicated local political activists.

And then the appeals process over what to do at the Dorsey High crossing drags on forever because every agency in the world has to have their say, and the CPUC can't seem to make a decision.

It is sad. It always ends up the same. The rich and white say that they don't want to have to see, hear, or deal with the poor and brown. The poor and brown say that they are never treated as equals to the rich and white.

Nobody who follows Metro, Metro's plans, or Metro's budgets EVER thought this was going to be anything but a political boondoggle.

People said from the very beginning at MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE public meetIngs that THIS WAS A BAD ALIGNMENT. I know, I was there, and I heard them. The arguments about safety, the Cheviot Hills NIMBY's, the 'you wouldn't treat Palos Verdes like this' were all brought up, and LOUDLY for years before this alignment was determined.

The truth is, the rail line serves only one practical purpose: to get those rich USC students to Santa Monica Beach with out cars.

So why not get USC to pitch in? MTA already added an entire additional station Just For The Trojans...why not ask the Trojans to pitch in some of the additional costs?

Uh, Culver City is not by the beach... so USC students will hitch hike and walk from Culver City all the way to Santa Monica, eh? If this line is ever completed, the 10 freeway can be less of a parking lot... As for the people worrying about poor people taking the rail to their neighborhoods... if they are poor, why would they spend $ to take the rail to anywhere? Mass transit will mostly be used for commuting, thus if they come, it'll be because of their jobs...

This lines serves a very important part of LA and is a totally different corridor than Wilshire. Those ignorant enough to think that the entire mid city and westside should have one rail line have never seen a map of any large city in the world. not only do we need expo and the purple, we also need about 10 more lines to and around the westside.

The expo line is going to be huge for transportation alternative. when you can get from Santa Monica to Downtown in less than 30 minutes and not worry about driving, that is a major advantage. Connecting Santa Monica (Eventually), Culver City, Mid City, USC and Downtown will make this a very successful and necessary line.

The reason the costs went up were because people think that students cant avoid a damn train, you know, a train that goes in a straight line and will have barriers. no, instead, lets make it about race, waste money to build a useless bridge and delay this much needed line. If someone gets hit by a train, its more than likely they wouldn't be a productive person in society anyways. Darwinism at its best. people in Amsterdam, SF, and many other cities avoid trains all the time, why not us?

1. What are those contracting mistakes, exactly? More reportage, please.
2. Are high school students in LA really so stupid and slow that they can't stay out of the way of a frickin' train? Let Darwinism do its work.

They hired contractors who had never built light before? Was that stupidity, or corruption? How's that workin' out for ya?

Mike - FYI some of my neighbors also objected to people from the "ghetto" traveling through our neighborhood, even though the Cheviot Hills people believe we are the ghetto. Some of these people became the "no-expo" crowd. I was told "no one goes downtown" to "no one I know uses public transportation."
It is peculiar to me that the Times is still quoting the complaint that this is not near the Beverly Center etc. People do live and work south of the Santa Monica FWY. There are people from the Marina/Westchester/Inglewood etc. that will also benefit from the Expo Line. I can't wait until I am able to use it -- even if I have to walk a couple of miles to Crenshaw for a year to use it. The bus lines East/West in my neighborhood to downtown are nonexistent.

How much does a concrete bridge over La Brea cost? Now it looks as if it would have been a bit more reasonable to put of the Eastside extension and Expo Line in favor of the Fairfax Extension years ago. Ten years ago that is. That might have paid for these two lines. Hey maybe I'll go to college to be a city planner? I wonder If they will work with an honest logical person that has actually used these lines their whole life. So now we wait. I expect more delays too! HA!

Damien Goodwin is an obstructionist, in a city full of them. That's why much needed transit projects here take decades to complete. The Gold Line passes at-grade near schools in low-income Latino neighborhoods without a problem. So why is it racism for the Expo line to pass at-grade by Dorsey High? All he's going to achieve is to spend millions of public money on pedestrian bridges few people are going to use as well as close a street that more people would use. I would love for all the rail crossings to be grade separated but unfortunately at this point it looks like this city's taxpayers are not going to pay for it.

If the Times is going to quote a critic like Mr Goodwin and other anonymous critics, they should also quote someone who is in favor of the Expo Line. To those other critics who say it's too far from Wilshire, it's not an either/or issue, the Westside needs both the Expo and Purple lines. As for construction delays, those are to be expected in any large project. Tunneling would be much more expensive and subject to more delays (anyone remember the Hollywood Bl collapse?). Even if the Purple line gets built as planned by a ridiculously far-off 2030-something, I'd rather have an Expo line in 2016.

i thought crenshaw was deemed the EAST SIDE now its called the westside get it straight please!

Although it's disappointing for me to hear of delays on the expo line, because I plan on using the venice/robertson station, I do understand the delays. I think if the original plan wasn't changed when they started this project then it would be completed on time. I think we need to keep in mind that there have been many additions, changes, and court battles that have emerged and slowed the process. I would just urge the MTA and EXPO to do whatever they can to speed up the process. There are many of us out there looking forward to using this new line. I will point out there has been lots of talk at the federal level about additional funding for transportation projects that are shovel ready, maybe expo phase 1a, 1b, and phase 2 fit the bill to get some of this funding.


West LA

'ghetto' is a state of mind.....because you live on the westside you think you're better...WAKE UP...I was born and raised on the so called west side..west of robertson.. and i would trust "so ghetto people more than my neighbor...People are people ..we all want the same things...a place where we can raise our family....I would trust someone on the eastside before i would trust someone on the Westside.. amd I was raised on the "Westside" People get over yourselves...you're the same people that live in the so called "ghetto". Believe me I was born in LA and was raised in south central...moved when i was 12 to the westside... and when to Pico and Fairfax High in 1972...never had a problem with people ever...never experienced any kind of racisims..black white or yellow we all got along...I'm 51 years old, and my family has all different races. My mother is married to a Japanese, my sister is married to a Jew, my mother in law is married to a white man...and we all have a great time together...we don't see color.. and its been over 25 years and we love each other very much...we come together and we TRULY have a great time together....all the different cultures come together and it makes all of us better people ...because we truly don't care...about color...try it and if you have a true heart. fill with love you'll see. Life is too short to be fulled with hate. Rather, you like it or not..we are brothers and sister in the eyes of GOD..

Expo Line elaborates on points raised in Times’ story
The Los Angeles Times ran a story on Tuesday headlined “Expo Line project costs and delays are ballooning; The rail line from downtown L.A. to Culver City is $220 million over budget and a year behind schedule. Officials hope to open part of the route next year.”

As I posted yesterday, the story was mostly a review of previously reported issues on the Expo Line light rail project. In response to the story, the Expo Line Construction Authority — the independent agency created to build the line — issued a memo elaborating on some of the points discussed in the Times’ story.

The memo:

1. $23.7 million was approved by the Expo Board in August of 2007 and the Metro Board in September 2007 for project enhancements. These were not cost overruns, but enhancements to the project not originally contemplated as part of the budget. The items included the addition of the Expo Park/USC station, the Expo/Blue Line interface and operational improvements as well as changes requested by the CPUC for a frontage road along Trade Tech.
2. $145 million was approved by the Expo Board and Metro Boards in November 2007 to cover construction cost increases. When Metro developed the original $640 million project budget, they contemplated escalation rates of 3.5% per year. The actual escalation rates at that time were well over 11% for labor and for materials. There were large increases in concrete, steel and gas costs which substantially increased the cost of construction. As a result, the original construction costs allocated in the project budget were insufficient. Based on actual escalation rates experienced by the project in 2006 and 2007, additional construction costs increased by over $80 million alone. Construction costs were also formulated during the early stages of preliminary engineering in 2003 before design had commenced. As is typical during the design of a project, unforeseen work elements were identified and construction estimates had to be modified once design of the project had progressed. The progression of design also identified items that had not been included in the original project budget. These items included costs for the National Blvd. Bridge construction, additional contractor insurance and bond costs, additional third party review and utility relocation costs. These costs had not been fully developed during preliminary engineering and only when design had progressed could these costs be accurately estimated.

3. In April 2008, the Metro Board approved $54 million for the addition of the Culver City aerial station and structure. While the aerial station and structure were environmentally cleared as part of Phase 1, funding was not available when the project was approved to build the permanent aerial station and structure so a temporary at-grade station was to be constructed just east of National. The aerial station and structure were to be built as part of Phase 2. When Prop 1B was passed by the voters in November 2007, additional funding became available for projects that were “environmentally cleared and ready to be built.” It was decided that instead of building a temporary station, that the funding would be used from Prop 1B to build the permanent station and structure as part of Phase 1. Again, this was not a cost overrun but an enhancement to the Phase 1 project.

4. Delays have been reported to the Board and include third party delays in relocating overhead power lines, delays by Caltrans in approving the design for the Flower St. bridge over the 110 freeway and contractor delays in submitting plans for reconstruction of the bridge.

5. Any cost overruns and delays associated with the Farmdale crossing will be better assessed when the CPUC makes their final decision on that crossing.

-- Steve Hymon


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