Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Lynne Bronstein
Observer Staff Writer 

Expo Line Finally Comes To The Beach

700 "Staff" paid to wave people to the left or right. No, really


David Ganezer

Miss Santa Monica India Williams and Miss Teen California Sandy Ramos, waiting for the train at 26th Street Bergamot Station.

The long awaited connection between downtown Los Angeles and the beach will finally be a reality on May 20 when the Metro Expo Line's Phase Two opens, connecting the current downtown Los Angeles to Culver City line with West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

The grand opening will be on Friday May 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following new stations: Downtown Santa Monica, 17th St/SMC, 26th St/Bergamot, Expo/Bundy and Palms. Culver City Station, which opened in June of 2012, will also feature celebrations.

"We invite the public to join us on Friday and Saturday to celebrate the historic opening of the Metro Expo Line to Santa Monica," said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. "We encourage the community to enjoy this new light-rail line service and see for themselves how close to the beach Metro can get you."

Following opening ceremonies with local officials, the Expo Line will offer free rides on May 20 from noon until close of service and also on May 21, from 4:42 a.m. in downtown Santa Monica and 4:45 a.m. at 7th and Metro station, until close of service.

On May 21 there will be station celebrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the new stations: downtown Santa Monica, 17th St/SMC, 26th St/Bergamot, Expo/Bundy and Palms. Culver City station, open since 2012, will also feature a celebration with food trucks, bike valet, information booths, children's activities, and entertainment.

The opening of Phase Two completes a project that has been under construction for a decade and has been in planning since 2003, when the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority was given the authority to plan, design, and construct the line.

Funding was provided by Measure R, the half-cent tax measure approved by voters in 2008. Construction began in early 2006 and most stations opened to the public on April 28, 2012. The Culver City and Farmdale stations opened on June 20, 2012.

Construction of Phase 2, from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica began in 2011. The project cost $1.5-billion and runs 6.6-miles.

Community members attended scoping meetings before and during the construction process. During the meetings for Phase 1, some community members expressed concern about safety in areas near schools, prompting the Expo Authority to make some changes to the construction of the Farmdale station.

Santa Monica residents also were concerned about which route Phase 2 would take in Santa Monica. The Expo Line for the most part, was designed to follow the right-of-way on Exposition Boulevard but in Santa Monica it would be necessary for the tracks to run on a surface street. While Olympic Boulevard was suggested, community residents wanted to protect the coral trees that grow on the median strip of Olympic. Colorado Boulevard was suggested and accepted as an alternative.

David Ganezer

Mother and child on the train.

In all, there are seven new stations on Phase 2: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Expo/Sepulveda, Expo/Bundy, 26th Street/Bergamot, 17th Street/Santa Monica College and Downtown Santa Monica. Each station features original art.

Three stations have park-and-ride facilities: Expo/Sepulveda (260 parking spaces), Expo/Bundy (250 parking spaces) and 17th Street/Santa Monica College (70 parking spaces).

In Santa Monica the line includes a paved bike path that runs along most of the right-of-way between Culver City and the 17th Street/SMC Station. The bikeway includes lighting and landscaping, and each station has secure bike racks and lockers for the convenience of cyclists using the Metro system.



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