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Green Line Extension: Making the Line to Nowhere Go Somewhere

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The Westside subway and the Expo Line seem to get all the attention, but don't forget about the advancing extension of the Green Line deeper into the South Bay. At this stage, Metro is working on the environmental impact report, hoping to have it ready for viewing this summer or next fall. The transit agency is studying whether to build more light-rail, build a line on an area freight track, expand bus services, or do zilch. At a meeting held yesterday at the Flight Path museum near LAX (hence the creepy/cool flight attendant mannequins), residents and Metro seemed to favor the light-rail alternative, since it would get 13,000 more daily riders on the Green Line and allow a transfer-less connection from Torrance to Norwalk, Torrance to the Expo Line Crenshaw station, and eventually, Torrance to the terminals of LAX. There's also the hope, according to officials, of someday extending the Green Line into San Pedro and connecting this train to the Norwalk Metrolink station near the eastern end.

Randy Lamm, project manager of the extension, says the 4.6 mile light-rail alternative would cost about $500 million, and build out four new stations along an existing train right-of-way--moving south from the current terminus on the borders of Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hawthorne, the stops would be at Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Inglewood Avenue in Lawndale; a Redondo Beach regional transit center stop within walking distance of the South Bay Galleria; an elevated stop at Hawthorne Blvd. and 190th; and a station in an industrial stretch of Torrance that the city hopes to turn into a transit center with bus bays and bike amenities. Metro is figuring out right now whether the train will have elevated or underground stretches when it crosses big streets. Trains would be able to come every five minutes (probably at rush hour) and connect to Norwalk, the Expo Line via the planned Crenshaw Line, and to LAX, where an extension of the light-rail will likely connect to terminals someday (this is separate from the proposed People Mover that will connect the Crenshaw Line to LAX--we know, it's confusing).

The other option, that will almost certainly get nixed, is the freight track alternative. It would require a transfer at the current LAX station if one wanted to travel to Norwalk. It also would only attract 4,000 new riders to the Metro system and would cost almost the same as the light-rail alternative. Oh, and the freight track alternative would nix the Lawndale and Hawthorne/190th stations. Expanded bus service would attract more riders than the freight alternative, according to Metro, so it seems that this idea will get abandoned soon.

Most speakers spoke in favor of the light-rail, some voicing concerns about noise and parking (most want park and rides so people don't park in their hoods). But most everyone was cautiously supportive. The last speaker though raised his voice about the decline of property values--an assessor told him his train-adjacent house would lose 35 percent of its property value. He demanded that Metro reimburse him for the financial loss (he also told Metro representatives that he had a panic attack thinking about the train).

Funding for the Green Line extension currently won't come available until the 2030s, but Lamm sounded hopeful that Metro could work it out 30/10 style, as the Crenshaw Line has, and get an infusion of federal loans that could start work by 2014, and allow for an opening in 2018. The draft EIR should be out in a year at the latest, with approval by Metro by December 2011.

· Green Line Extension Advancing [Curbed LA]
· Green Line, Metro's Stephen Baldwin, Turns 15 [Curbed LA]