Expo Line to SM Closer to Completion

expo-line-05-17-2013-012By around the middle of the year, the bulk of the construction work will be completed on the $1.5 billion second phase of Metro’s Exposition Line linking Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.

But it will take several more months after that before riders will be able to hop aboard, an Expo Line official said.

Even after most of the heavy construction work is done and the rail cars are up and running, the light rail line must undergo a series of safety tests and checks before it can officially go into service, said Council member Pam O’Connor, who chairs Metro’s Exposition Line Construction Authority Board.

That testing phase is expected to take anywhere from four to six months, she added.

“That’s going to be the most frustrating time for me, because you’ll be able to see the rail cars moving along the tracks, but you won’t be able to ride on them,” O’Connor said in an interview. “They’ll have to make sure that all the computer and software systems are working properly. Safety is the No. 1 priority.”

The second phase of the project is moving along on schedule, O’Connor said. She estimated passenger service could begin by the end of 2015.

“We’re in countdown mode,” the former mayor said.

The Expo line route runs down Flower Street in Los Angeles then along the Exposition Boulevard Corridor as it heads west. Completed in 2011, the first phase of the 15.2-mile route brought the rail line from downtown to Culver City. Passenger service officially began in April 2012. In November, Expo officials announced that work had been completed on more than 80 percent of the second phase of the line, which extends the tracks from Culver City to Santa Monica.

According to Expo’s website, Phase 2 of the project includes seven passenger stations: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Exposition/Sepulveda, Exposition/Bundy, 26th Street/Bergamot, 17th Street/Santa Monica College, and Downtown Santa Monica.

Once the completed line to Santa Monica opens, Expo officials estimate 64,000 daily riders will be traveling the route by 2030, according to the website.

Light rail cars will take riders from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles in about 40 minutes, Expo officials have said. O’Connor said she’s looking forward to December 31, 2015, when Santa Monica residents will be able to take the Expo line to Los Angeles to enjoy New Year’s Eve celebrations at Grand Park.

“Not this year, but by this time next year,” said O’Connor.

– Santa Monica Lookout

– Photo Credit – Metro

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