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Rail line to Santa Monica wins approval

February 4, 2010 |  7:13 pm

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