Many in Santa Monica have been anticipating the opening of the Expo Light Rail Phase 2 in 2015 with great enthusiasm. Others have been concerned about the placement of Expo maintenance facility at the Verizon site in the Pico neighborhood which is right next to a residential neighborhood.
At the September 15 Friends 4 Expo general meeting one of Expo’s consultants, Stephen Polechronis, announced that a number of people from the Pico neighborhood had visited the maintenance facility that serves Metro’s light rail Green Line. This facility was visited because it is similar in size and contains the same type of operations that the maintenance facility being proposed for the Pico neighborhood would have. He also mentioned that after the Green Line facility was in operation both a condo development and a hotel were built right near it.
Polechronis stated that the main activities that will be done at the Santa Monica maintenance facility would be storage of light rail cars during mid-day and overnight, cleaning and inspection of the rail cars, and light repairs. Cars will be sent to another location for heavy repairs.
The Expo consultant also stressed that the project was proceeding on schedule. The project is currently in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) phase. The FEIR is expected to be completed in December of 2009 and the Metro Board is expected to certify it on January 7, 2010. The project’s design-build contract will be awarded in February or March of 2010 and construction will begin also in 2010.
Most of the funding for the light rail project will come from local sales taxes which were mandated when Measure R was approved by voters in November of 2008. Polechronis emphasized that the light rail project was a “top priority” for the projects being funded by Measure R over the next 30 years.
There was also discussion of delays in the opening of Phase 1 of the project. These delays according to Expo officials will not affect Phase 2 from moving forward.
Expo will hold another meeting on October 14 at 6 p.m. in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. At this meeting Expo will give a recap of the DEIR (Draft Environmental Impact Report), a summary of the public input of the DEIR, and what has changed since the DEIR was released. They will also discuss the key areas of community concern such as traffic, noise and vibration. Also part of the discussion will be an explanation by Expo of their thinking and decision-making processes. There will also be another field trip available to those who are interested in visiting the Green Line maintenance facility.
Polechronis noted that the light rail won’t improve traffic on the Westside due to projected growth “but it will carry a lot of people and therefore free up roads for drivers.”