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Expo Line wins court challenge to environmental impact

February 23, 2011 | 12:50 pm

The second phase of the Expo Line rail project from Culver City to Santa Monica took another step forward this week when a Superior Court judge dismissed a challenge from a neighborhood group on its environmental safety.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas McKnew on Tuesday denied the bid by Neighbors for Smart Rail, which had submitted court papers challenging the project's final environmental impact report and proposed mitigation measures.

His action follows a tentative ruling he made last December, the Exposition Construction Authority said in a statement. He dismissed the community group's contention that the authority's report lacked appropriate standards for conducting an environmental review.

The group challenged the project’s baseline data used in projecting future cumulative impacts on traffic, parking, noise, air quality and other proposed corridor developments.

Phase 2 of the project includes a seven-mile alignment, ending at Colorado Boulevard and 4th Street in Santa Monica.

Neighbors for Smart Rail said it plans to file an appeal, maintaining that the environmental review is critically flawed. The group also would have to file an injunction to stop construction, which is scheduled to begin this summer.

Officials with the authority, which controls the project, said they look forward to starting the design-build process of phase two.

The second phase is being designed to connect downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and will connect West L.A. to the region's existing rail network at a projected cost of $1.5 billion.

Phase 1 of the Expo Line, a nine-mile alignment from downtown L.A. to Culver City costing $930 million, is 86% complete, authority officials said. It is expected to partially open this fall.

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-- Nate Jackson

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