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Rail line to Santa Monica wins approval

Los Angeles transportation officials on Thursday took a major step in bringing commuter rail to the Westside, approving a route linking downtown L.A. to Santa Monica.

Officials hope to begin work later this year on phase two of the Expo Line, a nearly seven-mile link from downtown Culver City to the corner of 4th and Colorado in Santa Monica’s main business district. Phase One of Expo Line is already under construction from downtown L.A. to Culver City.

Extending the line to Santa Monica would be an important milestone in L.A.’s ambitious rail-building campaign. It would also mark the farthest west a Metropolitan Transportation Authority line has reached, serving a section of the county notorious for traffic problems.

"Every other part of Los Angeles has been served by mass public transportation," said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside. "This part of town, this part of the county has waited a long time for this.”

Transportation planners believe they have $1.5 billion in local and state money to build it. And though there is broad support for the extension, some neighborhood residents have concerns about portions of the plan.

Some homeowners claim the route approved Thursday is unsafe, particularly a stretch near homes in Cheviot Hills as well as areas near Sepulveda Boulevard and Overland Avenue.

Those residents insist that at least one portion of the line should be built underground, saying that would make the route safer for both motorists and pedestrians.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz

Comments () | Archives (22)

What? Cars are a LOT more dangerous than trains. Will a small group of home owners ruin a good thing everyone else? Will the courts and politicians allow them to do so?
"Those residents insist that at least one portion of the line should be built underground, saying that would make the route safer for both motorists and pedestrians."
Selfish. Shame on you.

It wouldn't have cost $1.5 Billion to rebuild this service if the same fools who say they want a rail system hadn't - just five years ago - approved and promptly gone ahead ripping up the train tracks all aong the median of Santa Monica Boulevard from West Los Angeles to West Hollywood.

The Sancta Monia geniuses already tarred theirs over good and solid in the mid-1980s and hustled the land rights to their pals. Same dreary story of insitutional vandalism applies across Culver City, and throughout wide tracts of the Valley. The people who approved this should be the ones paying for replacement rail lines.

"This part of the county has waited a long time for this" ? Not half.

It takes only a few idiots with friends in the demolition business and a month or two to completely destroy rail infrastructure, but Billions in today's money even to only partially replace it, as we're about to find out the hard way.

This is great news. As a Santa Monica resident for almost the entire time I've lived in the L.A. area (since 1974), I've been waiting for this the entire time I've lived here. Once this is built, I can consider going downtown and other places much further east of me more often, because I'll finally be able to go without the hassle of traffic and trying to find a place to park. While it's too bad that this didn't happen sooner (ballot measures for a subway to the sea were voted on in the 1970s and rejected), it's nice to finally have some long-term approaches to solving our problems.

Bravo! Now let's all pull together so the NIMBYs don't further delay completion of this long overdue line with meritless lawsuits. And to pay for the inevitable construction cost overruns (it's expensive to build in LA in 2010) Metro should offer naming rights on every brick, length of rail, rail car, and station to the highest bidder. If would be nice if we didn't have to but the financial state of the city, county, state, and nation dictate otherwise. There are businesses and charitable foundations out there recognize the value of being associated with this important local project.


Wow, a rail line to Santa Monica. I can remember when I was a kid there were street cars that went down Olympic, and I always asked my mom to drive that way when we traveled somewhere. Then they were gone, and I didn't know why until I got older (and saw Roger Rabbit), and knew the real story of how Standard Oil, Firestone, and GM bought all the rail lines so we would have to buy gas, tires, and cars from these people.

I'm glad to see that you'll be getting some of that rail travel back. It's a much saner way to travel than driving, as long as the train goes where you're going.

Zev Yaroslavsky said "Every other part of Los Angeles has been served by mass public transportation"

Everywhere but the valley! Unless you call a glorified bus line mass public transportation.

Why won't they put a light rail in the valley?

"Commuter rail"? Is Metrolink coming?

"Every other part of Los Angeles has been served by mass public transportation," said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside. "This part of town, this part of the county has waited a long time for this.”

Yes, largely because of YOU, smiley glad-hand NIMBY enabler

This is really great news! Finally this project is moving ahead and I hope it moves ahead FAST. I would really love it, if they could open the phase 2 to Westwood before they finish the rest of the line. That would really make a difference since Westwood is so choked with traffic.

Here we have another example of brainless politicians on spending spree.

About damn time.

I don't understand why Santa Monica gets a light rail and the subway to the sea. It seems like the light rail should go to Venice and/or Marina Del Rey since SM is getting the subway.

And from the past... Yaroslavsky on Expo when he actually represented people...

“It is my position that at-grade light rail does not belong in heavily residential corridors such as this. The noise, vibrations, aesthetic impact, invasion of privacy, vandalism, and security issues raised by surface light rail mitigates against its use wherever the right-of-way abuts single family homes.”


“The only way to provide rapid transit to the Westside is to extend [the subway] to the beach…. Anything else will serve only to divert the attention of the community and of rapid transit planners away from this preferred solution.”

He then said that the concept of light rail on Exposition was a "waste of money.”

The community got railroaded today by powerful developers who have invested in land along the proposed route - and in politicians along the way.

That headline is very misleading.

End is at 4th & Colorado? Why make tourists walk 4 blocks to the beach?

Since tourism & the beaches pull such large crowds, they may want to think about stretching another few blocks to the Santa Monica Pier. Then that same station at the pier could serve as the terminus for the Wilshire line in a few years. Hot summer days, July 4th, Labor Day, seems like a no brainer.

Then again, the cliffs by the pier may not support all that concrete and shaking. The ground inland might be more stable?

NIMBY. That is just an argument to kill it off. Unlike the Wilshire corridor, it is feasible to build above ground in that area. There are homes along most of the route and many of the other metro line routes. Putting the line underground would make the project cost much more, take longer, and likely kill off the project. I've lived in the Cheviot Hills area, near the right of way and it is not any more dangerous than Motor, National, Castle Heights/Beverwill, Westwood, Overland, or any of the other heavily trafficked streets through the area.

Even thought I live next to Venice and the dropped alternative route would have placed a stop a couple minutes away from my home I have to commend the planners for ignoring the whinning by the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association and Neighbors for Smart Rail, and choosing the faster and less expensive alternative through Rancho Park.

The Expo Line to Santa Monica isn't going to reduce traffic. But it is going to give many of us an alternative to traffic.

I work in downtown Santa Monica. My choices right now are the 10 Freeway and surface streets. Either choice amounts to idling in gridlock. Even the buses are stuck.

If I am still working in Santa Monica when Expo opens, I will definitely take this to work.

Its about time. I think we should a rain line shadowing all the major highways. Another good rail project would be from Burbank airport via Van Nuys to LAX.

The subway stopping in the southern part of North Hollywood is hardly usable public transit in the Valley. A bus line, even if it has it's own dedicated lane, that goes only along the south part of the Valley to Woodland Hills is hardly usable transit in the Valley for the bulk of its residents.

Extend the Red Line, as an ABOVE ground light rail line from NoHo to Van Nuys, San Fernando, Northridge and Chatsworth and now you've got something that will actually serve the kind of people who might ride the train.

Also, where the heck is a train from the North Valley to LAX. Monorail right down the middle of the 405 (or Sepulveda Blvd) from somewhere near the 405/5 merge in Sylmar to LAX with stops in Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, Westwood, West LA and Culver City would drastically relieve traffic on the overburdened 405.

As for the NIMBYs along the proposed route suggesting underground construction: we should spend 100X as much per mile to satisfy their concerns? While I appreciate them, it's just not a good idea in any times to build underground in earthquake country, in my opinion, and in these financial times, a horrible idea and a financial deal buster.

"This part of town, this part of the county has waited a long time for this.”

Whatever you say, Zev. Short sighted Westside NIMBYs have resisted the extension of rail and subway for decades.

"Why won't they put a light rail in the valley?"

The Santa Monica Mountains/Hollywood Hills are a significant cost barrier to a light rail line. Not saying it couldn't be built, it would just be more costly than the current lines that are mostly on flat terrain in the basin.

A good start would be a circuitous MTA rail line that would connect Metrolink stations with parts of the valley that are more distant from them.

People are stupid! who cares if a railway passes above or under ground? the world doesnt revolve around yourself. Plus, dont the developers hire safety inspectors to put some high % of that %1.5 billion into signs and safety awareness so that pedestrians and cars are allerted when a massive choo-choo is coming! safety safety! we need smarter more educated people on the roads, who actually deserve to be behind the wheel. Also, trains rarely crash, it's more of a risk to drive a car. it's even more of a risk to eat fast food!

Listen, If you willingly step onto a train that weighs a few thousand tons and travels speeds up to 50mph, be prepared for some sort of inconvenience. Remember, its people creating infrastructure, we're bound to mess up once in a while.


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