n a milestone vote – but not a final one – the Expo Line Board unanimously approved the Exposition/Colorado alignment for Phase 2 of the Expo light rail line at its April 2 meeting.Phase 1 of the rail line from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City is currently under construction, and the planned phase 2 would continue the line from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica. The routing of Phase 2 generated two controversies, one of which was whether the Santa Monica leg of the route would run as an elevated train in the median of Olympic Boulevard or as a mostly ground-level train on Colorado Avenue.At the April 2 meeting, the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors directed staff to pursue the Exposition right-of-way (ROW) and Colorado Avenue as the preferred alignment for Phase 2 of the Expo Line project. Staff will now consider this as the preferred alignment in the preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Report for the subsequent consideration by the Board. Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor, who sits on the Expo Line Board, called the vote a “milestone” upon which the Expo Line project will “continue to move forward … on a good path” to construction of the rail line. “Funding sources have been identified,” she added, and the project has been “funded fully.”The Final Environmental Impact Report is expected to be completed by the Expo Construction Authority staff this fall and then presented to the Expo Line Board for approval and certification by the end of this year. Monica Born, the project director for Expo Phase 2, said they hope to retain a design/build contractor in early 2010, begin construction toward the end of 2010, and open operations in 2015. Funding is to come from L.A. County Measure R approved by voters last November, Propositions A and C approved earlier, and some state funding administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.Some 50 members of the public commented at the April 2 Board meeting, and most were in favor of the Exposition/Colorado route endorsed by the board, according to both O’Connor and Born. O’Connor said that the preponderance of those who appeared before the Santa Monica City Council and Planning Commission on earlier occasions also supported the Colorado route for the Santa Monica leg of Phase 2. The location of the Santa Monica maintenance facility, which has generated some local controversy, will be among the issues considered in the development of the Final Environmental Impact Report.The other principal routing controversy regarding Phase 2 was whether the light rail line would follow the Exposition ROW through Cheviot Hills or take a longer route along Venice and Sepulveda Boulevards to bypass that residential neighborhood, and the preferred route endorsed by the Board on April 2 opted for the Exposition ROW route.L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who sits on the Board, acknowledged community concerns and directed staff and the project team to continue to analyze several key issues including traffic concerns at key intersections, grade crossing safety issues, and proposed parking restrictions along Westwood Boulevard and Overland Avenue, as well as identifying the most feasible and appropriate site of the maintenance facility.
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