A group of Westside homeowners called Neighbors for Smart Rail lost another fight in their effort to stymie the Expo Line light rail extension to Santa Monica, which is currently in major construction and should open in three years. The group, currently battling the project in the state supreme court, found out today that the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees train operations in the state, has again approved Expo's street-crossings against the group's wishes. The CPUC initially approved the 6.6-mile extension's 27 crossings--16 street-level and 11 grade-separated on aerial bridges--in November 2011. But NSFR asked CPUC to review the approval and the state agency agreed to look at a few of the group's claims--specifically, approvals for the crossing near the 405 and one under a pedestrian bridge in Palms. After looking at the matter for about a year, the CPUC decided last week that, uh, yeah, the crossings are fine.
In their 87-page report, the CPUC relayed the back-and-forth with NFSR over the crossings and handed the group some searing rebukes. Some examples: "The Scoping Memo and Ruling instructed the parties to conduct discovery in accordance with the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure. Tellingly, even though it had ample opportunity to do so, NFSR did not engage in any discovery with Expo."
On NFSR arguing that Metro failed to consider spillover parking at the future stations, CPUC writes, "We reject NFSR's arguments."
NFSR claims the crossings will be unsafe because the Expo Authority studied future traffic conditions rather than present ones. The CPUC's take: "We reject NFSR's arguments as they are factually and legally unsound."
The summary of the CPUC decision: "Following the order granting rehearing [on the crossings], and pursuant to General Order 164-D, this decision affirms Resolution SX-100 and authorizes Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority to construct 16 at-grade and 11 grade-separated highway-light rail crossings as part of Phase 2 of the Exposition Corridor Light Rail Transit Project. This proceeding is closed."
The California Supreme Court should rule this summer on NFSR's suit against the line and, maybe, quite possibly, that would be the last legal hurdle for the Expo Line.
· Expo Line Phase II Archives [Curbed LA]