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On Track For Light Rail:

Light Rail Transit (LRT) is scheduled to come to Santa Monica in 2015, so the City has begun to review the required documents for the project.

On February 4 Santa Monica’s Planning Commission discussed and made recommendations on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the project. The Commission focused on the two alternative routes being proposed for Santa Monica and their recommendations will be forwarded on to the City Council. Below are the descriptions of these two routes from the DEIR.

“LRT 1 Expo ROW–Olympic Alternative (LRT Alternative 1) would utilize approximately 5 miles of the existing Exposition ROW from the Expo Phase 1 terminus in Culver City to the intersection with Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica. From that point, the alignment would follow Olympic Boulevard to the proposed terminus station.

LRT 2 Expo ROW–Colorado Alternative (LRT Alternative 2) would also utilize the existing Exposition ROW from the Expo Phase 1 terminus in Culver City to the intersection with Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica. From that point, the alignment would continue within the Exposition ROW to west of 19th Street, then diverge from the ROW and enter onto Colorado Avenue east of 17th Street and follow the center of Colorado Avenue to the proposed terminus.”

The Commission unanimously preferred the Colorado Alternative because they liked the fact that the terminus station proposed for Fourth and Colorado would be at street level, and would include a station plaza area around the station. The Commission members were opposed to having parking at the Fourth and Colorado station because they believe there is too much congestion already in the downtown area. They also would like to make sure that there is easy access to trains for both the disabled and for those who want to bring their bicycles on board.

All of those who gave public input were in favor of the project. However, the Associate Head of the Crossroad School, Bob Riddle, told the Commission his school could not support “the Olympic alignment due to safety concerns.” His school has one campus on the south side of Olympic and a physical education facility and another campus on the north side of Olympic. This means students that are crossing the boulevard on a daily basis could be hit by a train.

Other areas that the City will have to make decisions on are the final locations for the rail’s power substations, on-street replacement parking (amounts and locations), noise mitigation measures for each location, and traffic detour plans and haul routes during construction.

The DEIR can be accessed at buildexpo.org/phase2_overview.php. The deadline for comments on the Expo Phase 2 DEIR is Friday, March 13, 2009. A community meeting on the DEIR will be held at Santa Monica High School on February 17.

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