Light Rail Extension in L.A. Moves Ahead, But Controversy Remains

Expansion of Los Angeles' light rail system is moving ahead, as a new leg heads west. Though funding is secure, controversy still surrounds the route and its design.

"The University of Southern California's station is nearly complete in Exposition Park. Pylons for an overpass are rising on either side of La Brea Avenue, tracks are welded in Culver City, and the line's undulating sun-shield canopies should start shimmering above stations starting in May. Although beleaguered by community groups seeking changes, the Expo Line remains on track.

The $2-billion-plus project, which is managed by the Exposition Construction Authority (a state agency only partially funded by LA's transit authority), was given a boost by Measure R. The half-cent county sales tax passed by voters last fall will provide needed funds during Phase II-expansion to Santa Monica-and has lent an overall sense of confidence to the project."

"...Not everyone is happy. As development spikes along the route, grassroots groups like Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line and Neighbors For Smart Rail have mobilized, specifically to prevent at-grade crossings in neighborhoods, which they believe will increase accidents, traffic, noise, and glare. The groups have also claimed that residents in lower-income neighborhoods are not receiving the same safety measures as wealthier Westside residents.

The Citizens' Campaign focused their efforts on the Exposition Boulevard-Farmdale Avenue crossing, which was deemed too close to Dorsey High School, whose students would have to cross the at-grade alignment. After a February ruling that deemed the crossing unsafe, Expo began work on a new proposal to include a pedestrian bridge and a likely permanent closing of Farmdale. An Environmental Impact Review will be available for public comment this summer, and major changes could delay the opening for a year."

Full Story: Crossing the Line

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