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Expo Line: One Rail Closer to Reality:

The MTA’s Expo Line Phase 2 project is moving closer to its construction phase. While construction is not slated to begin until fall of 2010, research and public feedback continues on proposed alternative routes and environmental factors.

At the latest in a series of public scoping sessions, held at Crossroads School April 1, Santa Monica residents had a chance to look at maps of the proposed routes, proposed stations, parking, and environmental mitigations.

The “Exposition Row” proposed route, which follows the existing right-of-way on Exposition Boulevard from the end of the Phase 1 route in Culver City to Santa Monica, features stations at downtown Santa Monica, an optional station at 17th Street, Cloverfield, Bundy, Sepulveda, Westwood, National/Palms, and Venice/Robertson. Except for Cloverfield, all of these stations will have parking, with 180-270 spaces at the Santa Monica terminus, 240-360 at Venice/Robertson, 130-200 at Westwood, and 260-400 at Sepulveda.

The Venice-Sepulveda proposed route, which detours from the eastbound right-of-way south on Sepulveda Boulevard then east on Venice Boulevard back to the right-of-way in Culver City, features 150-230 spaces at the Santa Monica station, 190-290 spaces at the Venice/Sepulveda station, a station at Overland with no spaces, and 150-220 spaces at Venice/Robertson.

The parking spaces allotted to the stations were determined by the “transportation model,” a computer program that uses population, work, economic, and other factors to determine approximate needs at each station, according to Expo line representatives. Visitors who were giving feedback to the representatives at the Crossroads event wondered about such issues as the lack of parking at the Cloverfield station, which serves the Bergamot Station art complex.

(The Mirror has learned from Wayne Blank, co-owner of the Shoshana Wayne Gallery at Bergamot Station, that the complex is preparing to build its own subterranean parking).

Another issue was grade separation. Some of the proposed stations on the Phase 2 route will be at street level with surface parking; others will be elevated or on an “embankment,” but will have surface parking. Some major intersection crossings are still being studied as to whether they will be at grade level or separated.

The building of the tracks and transit parkway will also have to accommodate the wet season in Los Angeles. The plans for the transit parkway include “environmentally friendly drainage design,” evaluation of dry season storm drain flows, and implementation of local natural drainage swales (open-channel drainage ways used to convey stormwater runoff).

The noise factor is a concern for those who live adjacent to the transit parkway. An Expo official said that while the noise from the trains is minimal, “It’s not going to be silent either.” FTA regulations require that the level of noise from a project be figured by adding the level of ambient noise in the area to the noise of the project. If the resulting level goes over a certain number of decibels, there must be mitigation, in this case, “sound walls,” six to eight feet in height on either side of the transit parkway.

For Santa Monicans, there is also the issue of two proposed alignments for the route as it approaches the Santa Monica terminus, one following Olympic Boulevard and one running down Colorado Avenue. The Colorado option would pass the remodeled Santa Monica Place.

Public reactions collected at the Crossroads event and other events around the Westside will aid the Expo Project in drafting a DEIR (Draft Environmental Impact Report) and DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement), to be finalized after public comment next fall. At that time, the locally preferred route alternatives will also be adopted. For more information, and to send comments, go to buildexpo.org.

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