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Expo Line Funding Gets Green Light

By Lookout Staff

September 6 -- The Expo light-rail line to Santa Monica moved closer to reality Wednesday after the California Transportation Commission greenlighted $315 million for the stalled project.

The funding, which was approved unanimously without debate, comes after a budget deadlock in Sacramento threatened to delay the project, which is expected to alleviate congestion on the traffic-snarled Westside.

Wednesday’s action "ensures continued progress without interruption in building the Expo light-rail line to Culver City and ultimately to Santa Monica," Zev Yaroslavsky, who chairs the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wrote in a statement issued shortly after the vote.

"It hastens the day we can finish the project and bring mass rapid transit and a measure of genuine traffic relief to the people of West Los Angeles."

The commission’s move provides nearly half of the $640 million needed to complete the first phase of the Exposition Line -- an 8.5 mile stretch of rail from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City -- which began construction last year.

The first phase is slated to be finished in 2010, paving the way for the next phase that will connect Culver City to Santa Monica, which is still in the planning stages..

Wednesday’s vote came despite worries that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cuts in transportation funding would indefinitely stall the Expo line, which would end in Downtown Santa Monica.

Earlier this year the Santa Monica City Council supported the most direct path into the city, following an existing right-of-way along Exposition Boulevard.

The other proposed route to Santa Monica would add approximately one mile of track along Sepulveda Boulevard and Venice Boulevard, before linking back up at Exposition Boulevard near the 405 Freeway and coming into Santa Monica.

In addition to making recommendations on the path, the council adopted a Planning Commission proposal that asks Construction Authorities to consider adding a third Santa Monica station near Santa Monica College on 17th Street on the public right of way, running parallel to Olympic Boulevard

The station would serve Santa Monica College, as well as businesses and high-density apartments in the area, according to City officials.

Currently, four possible Santa Monica sites are being considered for the project, according to maps unveiled at a March 6 public meeting.

However, transit officials have said fewer stops would keep ridership high and the line a success.

Currently two stations are likely under consideration -- Bergamot Station and a site on Colorado and Fourth Street, the proposed light rail terminus, where the City recently purchased a building from Sears for $35 million.

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