Friday, February 05, 2010

LA’s Expo Line LRT extension gets approved

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Light rail transit proponents in metropolitan Los Angeles Thursday notched a victory when the Expo Construction Authority approved Phase II of the Expo Line; the second phase, a 7-mile, $1.5 billion addition, would extend the line from Culver City to Santa Monica, Calif. Phase I is currently under construction, linking Culver City with downtown Los Angeles. The Expo Line roughly parallels Interstate 10.

"Every other part of Los Angeles has been served by mass public transportation," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside. "This part of town, this part of the county has waited a long time for this." Yaroslavsky’s support is considered notable by many rail advocates, since he often has been opposed to other portions of the city’s rail expansion plans, often advocating buses and/or Bus Rapid Transit alternatives as a preferable option.

"We are real happy," Darrell Clark, co-chair of the advocacy group Friends4Expo, was quoted saying after the decision. "This is the most important decision after the 2005 decision to do light rail in thefirst half.

Opposition to the extension still remains. Some neighborhood groups say the approved route is is unsafe and will create traffic problems, particularly on a stretch near homes in Cheviot Hills; among those opposed, some have called for an alternate route, while others have sought placing the route under ground. But the Expo Authority says a subway option would add $224 million to the project's cost. 

Some opponents of the plan had threatened to file a lawsuit to obstruct the plan, were it to be approved.

Full funding for the extension is not yet secured, in part because local sales tax revenue has declined due to the recession, and in part due to the uncertainty of state funds due to California’s ongoing budget crisis.