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Simulated Expo Train Runs Start in Santa Monica
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
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Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

March 23, 2016 -- Simulated passenger service to Santa Monica on the Expo Light Rail Line started Monday – albeit without actual passengers – as Metro works to establish final scheduling of the trains and completed last-minute business like fencing before the official May 20 opening.Santa Monica photo of  Light Rail Test Train
Photo credit: City of Santa Monica

Until the real start date, Metro is simulating full service with daily train runs at 12- to 20-minute intervals, a spokesperson said.

Trains begin at 4 a.m. and operate until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, according to Metro.

“It’s part of the testing process,” said Jose Ubaldo, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), or Metro. “We are looking at the scheduling.”

Fencing has been nearly completed along the center of the guideway between the two sets of tracks on Colorado Avenue between 15th Court and 7th Street, Metro officials said.

The Santa Monica City Council approved the fencing in December after a test train derailed at Colorado Avenue and Seventh Street.

In addition, pedestrian sidewalk guardrails will go up along Colorado between 7th and 5th streets, officials said.

Glenda Silva, a representative of the Exposition Construction Authority, said the fencing is nearly finished.

“The fencing for the guideway is complete,” Silva said. “There is still some work being done for the sidewalks but it should be done soon.”

Metro is paying for the fencing.

Metro’s 6.6-mile, $1.5 billion extension to Santa Monica will mark the return of trains to the city for the first time in more than half a century.

Test runs started last August, and it didn’t take long for officials to notice that the community had grown accustomed over the decades to trespassing and otherwise causing potential hazards along the tracks.

Between September 24 and October 26, Santa Monica officials noted more than 2,788 instances of pedestrians on the guideway, 503 instances of bicyclists on the tracks and 153 skateboarders trespassing on the guideway, a staff report found.

But it was shortly after the train derailment on December 10 that the City Council opted for fencing, reversing a 2011 decision that found fencing to be visually obtrusive.

The accident occurred after the driver of an 18-wheel truck hauling diesel fuel made an illegal left at the Colorado-7th Street intersection into the path of a test train.

The train derailed after hitting the tanker, causing a small rupture in the truck’s fuel tank. The accident site was quickly cleaned and no one involved was seriously injured.

During inatallation of the fencing, intermittent street closures have occurred between March 11 through last Sunday westbound on Colorado Avenue between 17th Street and 5th Street. The closures lasted from 1:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. each day, Metro said.

Light rail in Santa Monica includes stations at 26th Street/Bergamot, 17th Street/Santa Monica College and Downtown Santa Monica, at 4th/Colorado, plus a maintenance facility, a bike path and about three miles of trackway, Metro says.

East of 17th Street, tracks will run in the existing Metro right-of-way south of Colorado and crossing to the south side of Olympic Boulevard, near 20th Street.

West of 17th Street the tracks will run in the center of Colorado Avenue.

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