Concerns raised as Expo Rail construction continues

Progress on the Expo Line — a rail line that will run down Exposition Boulevard and around the USC campus — continues to chug along, but recent developments may cause traffic congestion in some areas and unrest among citizens in others.

The final version of the project’s Environmental Impact Report was recently released, outlining the possible impacts of extending passenger train service throughout the area. The report noted several overpasses that residents desired near schools could not be built, leaving many residents upset.

The rail line will pass near Dorsey High School and Foshay Learning Center, where at-level street crossing will be built as opposed to aerial overpasses. Concerns have been and continue to be raised about the safety of the crossings, especially in areas with high numbers of children.

“Our basic objection is that the line is being built at street level, and that’s a danger,” said Damien Goodmon, coordinator of the Fix Expo Rail Campaign.

Expo Line project officials and MTA policies, however, said the street and pedestrian crossings are safe and will not be congested.

Beyond safety concerns, the project has faced budgeting and scheduling hurdles from its inception.

“This region needs rail transit,” Goodmon said. “But it does not need it built cheaply and inadequately.”

But Gabriela Collins of the Expo Line project said many of the concerns have arisen from project enhancements that were not part of the original plan. She said the main goal is simply to finish the project.

“We’ve been responsive to concerns,” Collins said. “Our focus is to work to complete construction in a timely fashion and provide an alternative to the 10 freeway, which is highly congested.”

The issues with scheduling — the project was originally set to be finished earlier than is now planned — have been brought to California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Simon, who said in an open letter that expediting the project is a major concern.

“You can be assured that I am fully aware of the legitimate public need for a speedy resolution,” Simon wrote. “In this regard, I have asked all of our staff to expedite this process. I consider this of the highest priority.”

The project is currently in Phase 2, which encompasses certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report and outlines an extension and certification of the rail line from Culver City to Santa Monica.

The heavy construction that can be seen around USC is part of the first phase of the Expo Line project, which consists of building the Expo Line from Culver City to Downtown Los Angeles and includes building stations alongside USC on Flower Street at 23rd Street and Jefferson Boulevard and on Exposition at USC and Expo Park.

The rail will go underground just past Jefferson at Figueroa Street and Exposition, Collins said. Now, stations are being built at Jefferson and Hoover Street as well as on Vermont Avenue and Exposition.

Though there is no specific timeline for the construction, Collins said most of it should be completed over the course of the next year.

The rail line will run parallel to the Santa Monica Freeway, one of Los Angeles’ most congested freeways. Other stations will include Vermont, Western, Crenshaw, La Brea and La Cienega, some of the busiest streets in L.A.

Once complete, the rail will allow USC students and others easier access to all areas of Los Angeles.

“The fact that those stations are being built will provide people with easier access to the Galen Center, the Coliseum, the science center and museums without having to look or pay for parking,” Collins said.

According to the Expo Rail Line website, the rail from Culver City to Downtown L.A. via USC will be running by 2012, while the project as a whole is scheduled for completion by 2016.

5 replies
  1. S.S. Sam Taylor
    S.S. Sam Taylor says:

    Joe, this may surprise you, but the Expo Line is being built by “Private Enterprise”. Yes, the “Owner” is a government entity that has to deal with local citizens who have used the legal system to put year after year of delay at Farmdale Ave. That is the price of living in a democracy. Now, another year of delay was caused by a City of Los Angeles entity called the Department of Water and Power. They were unable to move high voltage lines at La Cienega and La Brea despite pushing from all sides. And then there are the delays from that “Private Enterprise” builder. They had problems with basics, such as figuring out how to hire “locals” and putting enough crew members on to do the assigned tasks. When that “Private Enterprise” builder wasn’t able to complete one part of the project without more years of delay, the “Owner” fired them and a replacement “Private Enterprise” builder is coming on who is willing to meet the schedule and at a better price to the taxpayers.

  2. @Joe
    @Joe says:

    You are comparing apples to oranges, Joe. The construction of a 9 mile rail line vs. 2 buildings? Portions of the 9 mile line that will be underground, elevated, and also a portion that will cross over the Harbor Fwy? They are completely different animals. It’s a poor argument you are making between private enterprise and government.

    The “little progress” you mention is because you don’t see the underground work, most of which is along Expo and Flower. Using your logic, the Red Line made little progress (even though it carries over 140,000 passengers per day).

  3. Joe
    Joe says:

    Compare this project to the construction of the new Cinema department building and the new campus center; it’s a great lesson in the differences between private enterprise and government. The Expo project has been going on for years with little progress, and will continue for years more, while USC has torn down and built up two new projects in no time flat.

  4. Interurbans
    Interurbans says:

    What is Damien saying; that the students at Dorsey High School will have more problems regarding safely crossing the tracks at grade than students at 2 High Schools, Middle and elementary schools along the Gold Line East Los Angles extension (or anywhere else) will have? The Gold Line is adjacent to teases schools and the students their seam to be able to live with the Gold Line safely, yet according to Damien the students at Dorsey High School can’t.

    As for the undercrossing at USC, all one has to do is to check how many cars and pedestrians pass the Flower, Figueroa and Exposition intersections Vs how many cars and pedestrians pass the Farmdale and Exposition intersection. One has to separate the scare mongering from the facts when it comes to neighborhood activist and what their agenda really is.

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