Expo Line will be Safe: It’s a Fact

Originally appeared on LA CityWatch 4/24/09 (their title).

Simple fact checking refutes the “Fix Expo” contentions about the Expo Line’s safety, equity, and funding (4/10/09 CityWatch).

Expo Line's phase 1 from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City is well under construction and scheduled to open next year. We can’t have this critical transportation alternative to the Santa Monica Freeway traffic soon enough!

The Expo Line follows the safe standard of mostly-at-grade light rail in many cities: 35 mph under signal control in boulevard medians, 55 mph with gated crossings on private fenced right-of-way, and bridges or underpasses specified where required for cross traffic or topography.

Recent local precedents of at-grade light rail are the Pasadena Gold Line, which has had an excellent safety record since opening in 2003, and the Eastside Gold Line, opening later this year. Other cities that have opened similar lines in the last few years include Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland, Salt Lake City, Houston, Minneapolis, and Charlotte.

Finding at-grade light rail more pedestrian-friendly, the City of Santa Monica requested and the Expo Authority just approved that option along Colorado Avenue. Santa Monica’s 3/2/09 city council report noted, “Street-level rail corridors provide greater opportunities over time for retail businesses, an enhanced pedestrian environment and walkable connections to the neighborhoods.”

The Expo Line’s 0.7 mile in Culver City happens to have only one street crossing, across two legs of the intersection of National and Washington. It will have a rail bridge due to traffic. For the same traffic reason there will be over twice the length of similar bridges in Los Angeles east of Ballona Creek over Jefferson, La Cienega, and La Brea, as well as an underpass below Figueroa and Flower.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the safety of all but one proposed crossing on the Expo Line. That remaining one by Dorsey High will have a pedestrian bridge instead of a gated crossing.

Phase 1 is already funded. Measure R is providing funding for phase 2, the rest of the way to Santa Monica, which is being designed to the same high standards. Federal stimulus money is for "shovel ready" projects that have received environmental clearance and completed their design. These are absolutely not for the unprecedented action of canceling a project well under construction to be unnecessarily redesigned at double the cost.

Vol 7 Issue 33
Pub: Apr 24, 2009

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