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Officials break ground on Santa Monica rail extension

September 12, 2011 |  1:21 pm

Expo Line personnel check a train doing a test run at Western Avenue and Exposition Boulevard

At least two dozen city, county and state officials met in downtown Santa Monica this morning to mark the start of construction on the second phase of the Expo rail line.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this day. ... Los Angeles and the western part of Los Angeles has been without public mass rail transportation for a long time,” said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

“People get stuck coming into this area in the morning to go to work ... and get stuck going home when they leave,” Yaroslavsky said. “It’s not going to solve the traffic problems of the Westside, but it’s going to give people an alternative to being stuck with the problems on the Westside."

The line will be the first to reach deeply into the traffic-clogged Westside since the Red Car trolleys of the last century. 

Construction on the first phase of the line — which is supposed to take commuters 8.6 miles from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City in 30 minutes — began in 2006 with a price tag of $640 million. That price tag has jumped to $932 million.

The second phase has a budget of $1.5 billion and will continue 6.6 miles west to Colorado Avenue and 4th Street in downtown Santa Monica. The larger budget includes a rail car maintenance facility. Officials hope to have the full line open in 2015.

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom said, because of changes in the handling of contracts on the two phases, he is confident the extension is “going to go smoothly and open on time.”

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Expo Line personnel check a train during a test run at Western Avenue and Exposition Boulevard in April. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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