The Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority has proposed placing a maintenance yard for the light rail line at the Verizon Property located on Exposition Boulevard near Stewart Street, which was stated in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project. This proposal has drawn a lot of opposition from the residents who live directly across the street from the site and on March 3, the Santa Monica City Council asked City staff to look for alternative sites for the yard to suggest to the Expo Authority.In an interview with the Mirror, Kate Vernez who is the Assistant to the Santa Monica City Manager for Community & Government Relations, stated that she is working on issuing a Request For Proposals for Planning and Real Estate to help identify alternate sites for the maintenance yard. Vernez is also assisting the City with looking for an engineering firm to help study any proposed alternative sites to make sure their use for this purpose is feasible. She emphasized that there is a need to identify an alternative site as soon as possible so the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) is not delayed.Monica Born, Project Director for the Exposition Line, told the Mirror any alternative site would have to meet certain parameters. She explained that the Expo Authority prefers to place the yard west of the 405 Freeway to minimize the number of train miles it has to build to it. She then stated that the projected hours of operation of the light rail would be from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and at the end of the day the rail cars would have to be taken off track to be cleaned, maintained and stored overnight. They then would have to be brought back to the terminus of the line in Santa Monica at 4th and Colorado before 5 a.m. each day. The maintenance site would be operated 24 hours, seven days a week, by three shifts of employees.The maintenance site must be at least six acres in size because of the buildings needed to clean, maintain, and store the rail cars. Born also stated that an appropriate location has to be zoned for industrial use, be rectangular in shape, and be flat. The location must also be able to accommodate 65-70 parking spaces for employees and maintenance vehicles.Born also mentioned that if the Verizon site is used, a sound wall would be built on the site’s south side so the neighbors adjacent to it wouldn’t be disturbed by noise. Another feature would be that the site’s lighting would point downward so it wouldn’t spill into the community.The residents who live adjacent to the Verizon site have been signing off on a letter to Born objecting to the maintenance yard being placed there due to noise concerns and because it would be operated 24 hours a day. They are also concerned that an electrical generator needed for the site’s operations would be very noisy, and that supply deliveries would enter and exit through their neighborhood street, creating additional noise and traffic.The Mirror also contacted the owner of the Lantana Building on Olympic Boulevard, because this building’s back is right behind the Verizon property. The spokesperson for the building’s owner, Maguire Properties, Peggy Moretti, stated, “We’re working through the public process with MTA.”Other information for the project including the DEIR can be found at buildexpo.org.
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