Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LA Expo Line faces significant delays

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LA Expo Line faces significant delays Friends 4 Expo Transit

Los Angeles’s 8.6-mile, $862 million Expo light rail line connecting downtown and Culver City could face construction delays pushing the project’s completion date back by as little as six weeks, or up to a year.  The line originally was to open next summer; an estimate provided to the Expo Line Construction Authority Board pegged the delay at 50 weeks.

The delays are attributed to late completion of a bridge at National Boulevard, which set back construction of a bridge at Ballona Creek. Expo Chief Executive Richard Thorpe also cited complications involving sewer lines where the route crosses Jefferson Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. The addition of a third aerial station, and public controversy over pedestrian safety issues, have also dogged the project. The California Public Utilities Commission eventually required improvements to a pedestrian tunnel at one location and a pedestrian bridge at a second.

Expo officials say the project is still within its cost estimates, but the estimate delivered to the construction authority states that "there are still outstanding issues that could pose a significant risk to the budget."

The initial Expo Line segment, which roughly parallels Interstate 10, will share two stations with the existing Blue Line (7thStreet/Metro Center and Pico stations) before branching off to serve nineadditional station stops, terminating in Culver City. Weekday ridership isprojected at 27,000 by 2020.

Expansion west of Culver City to Santa Monica is currently undergoing environmental reviews, with debate ongoing over the exact route, as well as whether the extension should be at grade or in part a “subway to the sea.”