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Expo Line Phase II's Latest: Ground-Breaking Chatter

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The Expo Authority, the construction authority building the Exposition light-rail, released the final environmental impact report on the line's second phase from Culver City to Santa Monica (the first phase from Downtown to Culver has been delayed, and there's no firm opening date). You need a planning degree to understand this epic document, but luckily Metro's Source blog breaks it down for the neophytes. What's not news, but is news to some, is that Expo is following the Metro-owned right-of-way along Exposition Boulevard, and then traveling on Colorado Boulevard before terminating near Fourth Street in Santa Monica. If the Expo Board certifies the final environmental impact report at their meeting on February 4, construction could begin next year and open in 2015, according to the report. (But keep in mind the delays to the first leg of the Expo Line.) The Expo Authority says the line will carry about 65,000 people a day and guarantees a ride from Santa Monica to Downtown LA in under 50 minutes, even during rush hour. Oh, dream a little dream.

-Several crossings of this above-ground line remain at-grade (not separated from the street by a bridge or trench), including Overland, Westwood, and Sepulveda. The stretches of Overland and Westwood where the stations would be located are comparably quiet (the Westwood stop is numerous blocks south from the Westside Pavilion on Pico--but that's another story), to Sepulveda. This final EIR recommends the addition of a third northbound lane on Sepulveda for the at-grade crossing, as well as the inclusion of a design option for grade separation at Sepulveda if outside funding sources become available (paging Eli Broad). The final EIR also differs from the draft version in that it calls for grade-separation at Centinela.

-Looks like a park-and-ride lot at the Westwood station has been scrapped, but there are plans for a smaller parking lot to accommodate residents who will most likely lose street-parking when the line opens and commuters park in their hood.

-A bikeway that would continue from the Phase 1 Expo terminus at Venice and Robertson all the way to Santa Monica is part of the final EIR. Some streetsblog commenters are dubious that the bikeway will be seamless.

- As expected, a maintenance facility, where train cars are serviced and cleaned, will likely be located near Santa Monica College and a Verizon property; it'll come equipped with a 100-110 foot buffer to protect the residential neighborhood to the south from noise.

· Expo Line Releases Final Environmental Impact Report [The Source]
· Expo Phase II [Official Site]
· Expo Line Corridor Brings Development, Santa Monicans Worry [Curbed LA]