Ending Expo Work Would Cost $90M, Agency Says

Neighborhood group seeks stay on construction as part of its case against the light rail's connection from Culver City to Santa Monica.

A motion brought by a local neighborhood group to halt Expo Light Rail's construction from Culver City to Santa Monica would cost thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars if granted by the California Supreme Court, government officials said Monday.

Neighbors for Smart Rail—a group of Westwood and Cheviot Hills homeowners—is seeking a stay as part of its case, which currently under review by the state high court, accusing the Expo Authority of not preparing a proper environmental review of the trains impact on its neighborhood.  If construction wraps up before the court rules, and the decision is in the group's favor, NFSR has argued the damage will be irreversible.

But delaying the project for a year would cost $90 million and result in the loss of more than 4,000 "direct and indirect jobs," according to Expo Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

"The harm to the economy, local jobs and our efforts to build a modern transit system would be substantial," he said in a statement.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority filed their opposition to the stay on Monday.

The first segment of the Expo—between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City—opened to riders in the spring of 2012. The second stretch to Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica is expected to open in 2016.

See: [PHOTOS] Expo Rail Making Its way to Santa Monica

Major work underway is already underway to link the train to just short of the beach includes construction of bridges at Centinela Avenue, Motor Avenue, Sepulveda Boulevard, Olympic/Cloverfield Boulevard, National/Palms Boulevard and Bundy Drive.

In its suit, NFSR contends the Exposition Metro Construction Authority improperly used hypothetical 2030 traffic conditions as a baseline to measure the Expo Line's effects on traffic and air quality on the Westside. The petition for review also argued that the Expo Authority failed to mitigate anticipated parking problems around proposed stations.

An appeals court disagreed, ruling that using present-day traffic and air quality measures to gauge the need for the second phase of the Expo Line would "yield no practical information to decision makers or the public."

Judges also agreed the Expo Authority's proposed parking mitigation measures were sufficient.

Neighbors for Smart Rail appealed, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Brenda Barnes October 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I agree with Gary that the CEQA process is flawed. However, as in every other comment I have seen him make, the solution to that problem is to make a better process that takes into account MORE consideration of the environment, not putting in projects that are terribly designed just to have some project as an alternative to cars. I am in favor of public transit. I ride the BBB and Metro when their routes and timing are in any way feasible, and I take Expo under the same conditions. I am NOT willing to sell my car and take three hours to get places I can drive to in a half-hour just to be fanatical about my concern for the environment. Neither do I think being fanatical does anyone a service. I work for the environment. I also live my life normally today, not as I wish I could live it in 2030 And when a project is designed badly today, it should be improved, not worshipped..
Fred Alexander October 28, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I would like to know why the Expo Line was approved costing XX billions when we already have fast track double attached buses following similar routes that appear empty every time I see them.
Gary Kavanagh October 28, 2012 at 11:10 PM
First of all, at peak times some of those double length East/West arterial buses in LA are packed standing room only for much of their route despite their massive size, and running on tight 5-10 minute head ways. By size of ridership, the LA MTA bus system is the most ridden bus system in the United States outside of New York. Anyone who rides the bus at all, knows only someone who never rides the bus can think no one is riding them. The Big Blue Bus on some of it's popular routes like the #3 gets packed in like sardines at times, to the extent it is unpleasant and hazardous, which is why BBB is starting to introduce double length buses into it's own fleet. Secondly, rail lines with dedicated rights of way attract more ridership than bus systems typically do, and on the the most high traffic corridors are the only way to maximize carrying capacity because trains are capable of seating more people than buses can. If you increase bus frequency too much, it requires more drivers, and staffing is typically the biggest ongoing operating cost in a transit system. So for the corridors with highest ridership potential the economics of rail begins to make more sense over time by being able to carry more people with lower operating expense for drivers. I am fully confident the Expo Line, once completed to Santa Monica, will meet and quickly exceed initial ridership expectations.
Brenda Barnes October 29, 2012 at 12:49 AM
If the same people planned Expo who plan bus routes and staff them, the Expo trains would be empty too. That is why I say badly-designed systems must be improved, not worshipped. I took the Expo from Culver City to DT LA the other day, and this was the first time I was on it and noticed it stopped at a red light! I guess I must have been reading or talking to someone all the other times I took it because I never noticed that b/4. So the advantage of trains over buses--that they are below or above intersections so do not get delayed by traffic, is missing here. You have the built-in disadvantages of public transit--it's not door-to-door where you want to go, the way your car or even a bicycle is--and then you also have the disadvantages of a car, being stopped at lights? Great planning.
Brenda Barnes October 29, 2012 at 12:55 AM
One of the City Council candidates--I believe it was Seldon--says he rejects the premise of Expo, that it is going to reduce traffic. I agree with him completely, especially to the extent it crosses intersections on-grade. That is just ridiculous. Whatever it costs to go above or below intersections has to be done eventually anyway, since people will not take a system that is not faster than cars, and if it stops for traffic it won't be. Instead, Expo is an excuse to OK more development next to transit stations. It is so bad that the SM City Council is using it as an excuse when properties are more than 25 minutes' walk from a station. They claim they'll have shuttle buses or free jitneys or something to get people to the station without using cars, which they would have to do because there will be no parking to speak of at the stations in SM, unlike the one in Culver City. So if they can have all these connector lines, why don't they have them now for the buses?


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