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Expo Junction Built With Flaw But Metro Says It's Under Control

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The Expo and Blue lines were packed this weekend, shuttling sports fans, bike race enthusiasts, and party people from Long Beach, South LA, and the near Westside to the action in Downtown. But the train junction where the two light rail lines meet (going north) and split (traveling south) near Washington and Flower is faulty, or at least was, according to a report in the LA Times. For anyone following the Expo Line, they know the line was delayed for months, if not years, because of complications at the junction. But apparently the issues were bigger than the public realized--in 2010, Metro urged its construction authority to replace the junction altogether because of a design flaw that caused excessive wear to both the rail and train wheels, which increased the possibility of derailment of Long Beach-bound Blue Line trains when they take a sharp southeast curve.

Rebuilding the section would have cost $1 million and disrupted train service--Metro later "backed off its recommendation to replace the junction after several less costly modifications were made to better guide train wheels through the intersection." Metro and Expo's construction authority, which is building the line to Santa Monica, welded more steel to the rail to fix the problem, but wheel and track wear persisted until last summer. Metro says the problem is now fixed, but Expo's rail manufacturer still believes the junction needs to be replaced. Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission has been conducting special inspections because of the "non-standard" repairs--they will continue indefinitely until the CPUC is satisfied "there will no longer be any excessive wear," the head of the CPUC's rail safety unit told the Times.
· Expo Line junction design flaw prompts inspection order [LAT]
· Expo Line Archives [Curbed LA]