It never ceases to amaze me how the wealthy West Side interests in Los Angeles have been able to hinder if not right out block the completion of a light rail line that could ease L.A.’s horrendous traffic. Some West Siders have voiced concerns about “safety”, which as I have explained before in this previous post of mine, other cities with very similar conditions as L.A. simply do not seem to have. The L.A. Times recently reported this:
Though we sympathize with the residents — few people would want a train running past their backyards– the impacts of the line would actually be minor, and its benefits would be great. Planners expect the Expo Line to carry about 64,000 riders a day by 2030, relieving traffic, boosting the economy and cutting pollution. The agency is building sound walls to reduce noise, grade separations to lessen traffic delays, and parking facilities. That’s not enough for residents, who are demanding unnecessary additional grade separations that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and make the project financially unfeasible. The board must politely turn them down.
Frankly, I am just glad that the County of Board of Supervisors has more sense than to listen to the elitist and short-sighted demands coming from some West Side residents: the Supervisors just voted 6-0 to certify the “Phase II” of the final environmental report to move the process forward. This prompted the Expo Line Board of Directors to move towards the hiring of a design-build contractor. The Expo Light Rail Line Facebook page explains:
This action represents the first step toward hiring a design-build contractor to construct the long-awaited light rail extension to Santa Monica. Upon completion of successful negotiations, PE contracts will be awarded to both firms and PE work will continue for six months. In November 2010, the Authority will select one of these PE firms as the design-build contractor to complete the design work and construct this vital mass transit link, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Construction of the future site of an Expo Light Rail stop at Colorado Avenue and Fourth Street is still years away, but in recent days bulldozers have been rolling at the train stop’s planned home, as workers continue to demolish the structure that once housed a Sears Auto Center.The location is the planned end-point for a rail project transportation officials say will link Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles by 2015.