More de­lays plague Expo Line

The first rail sys­tem to the West­side in decades will open later than planned and cover a shorter route.

Los Angeles Times - - California - Sam Allen

This sum­mer was sup­posed to see a mile­stone in L.A. tran­sit.

The Expo Line, billed as the L.A.’s first rail sys­tem into the West­side since the Red Car trol­leys dis­ap­peared decades ago, was sup­posed to be whisk­ing com­muters be­tween Cul­ver City and down­town Los An­ge­les.

But in­stead, a se­ries of de­lays has pushed the open­ing of the first phase of the rail line to next sum­mer. And even then, only part of the line will be open and trains won’t reach the West­side.

Of­fi­cials are try­ing to de­cide how long that seg­ment will be, and they face what they ad­mit are two un­sat­is­fac­tory op­tions: open­ing Expo as an ap­prox­i­mately 51⁄ 2-mile line from down­town to Cren­shaw Boule­vard, or hav­ing it run about two miles far­ther west to La Cienega Boule­vard.

Plan­ners said nei­ther al­ter­na­tive is ideal be­cause nei­ther gets com­muters to the line’s orig­i­nal ter­mi­nus in Cul­ver City, home to en­ter­tain­ment firms and an in­creas­ingly hip din­ing and gallery scene. In­stead, at best, the line will ini­tially fall about a mile short of that goal.

It’s the lat­est set­back for Phase 1 of the Expo Line, which has faced sev­eral de­lays is now pro­jected to cost $900 mil­lion. Orig­i­nally, the price tag was $640 mil­lion, but costs have risen be­cause of de­sign changes, surg­ing con­struc­tion ex­penses and safety en­hance­ments.

“Most of the projects we’ve built in re­cent times have been on time and un­der bud­get, and this has been a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for all of us,” said Los An­ge­les County Su­per­vi­sor Zev Yaroslavsky, who sits on the Expo Line Con­struc­tion Author­ity

Of­fi­cials now ex­pect the rail line to open next sum­mer and to ex­tend by then only to Cren­shaw Boule­vard or to La Cienega Boule­vard.

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