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Expo Line crossings issue to be resolved in '09

December 18, 2008 |  1:51 pm

The California Public Utilities Commission once again punted making a decision on two disputed street crossings near schools for the Expo Line light rail line that is under construction. The commission was scheduled to take up the issue at today's meeting in San Francisco, but has now pushed the matter to its Jan. 29 meeting to take more time to study the matter.

The light rail line would travel from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. The PUC has already approved 36 of 38 street crossings, but the Expo Line Construction Authority still needs permission to build the rail lines atop a pedestrian tunnel at Harvard Boulevard next to the Foshay Learning Center, and to build rails across Farmdale Avenue in South Los Angeles, adjacent to Dorsey High School.

Meanwhile, the $862-million rail line remains under construction. The Construction Authority wants to build street-level crossings. The Los Angeles Unified School District and some community activists want the rail lines completely separated -- by tunnel or bridge -- from the street near both schools for safety reasons. Their fear is that students or other residents could be hit by the train no matter how the crossings are designed.

Earlier this fall, a PUC judge ruled that the Expo Line should build pedestrian bridges with elevators over the tracks at both locations. The Construction Authority says that could delay the project nine to 12 months and cost an extra $18 million -- the reason the authority has been lobbying the commission to amend the judge's decision and keep the rail line at street level. In filings last week, the Construction Authority also pointed to damage caused by urine in other MTA elevators. Yes, there are photos.

-- Steve Hymon