The nightmarish commute between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica could soon take no more than 46 minutes – even during rush hour – with Expo Line Phase Two opening in spring 2016.
On Monday, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Eric Garcetti boarded one of the new trains being tested on the tracks in Palms. Councilmen Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz joined them.
“The dream that many of us have had for a long time – to be able to ride the train from downtown Los Angeles all the way to Santa Monica – is almost a reality,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who became chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors July 1.
“Now almost 92 percent complete, Expo Line Phase Two will be delivered on time and on budget,” he added. “Not only will it shorten commutes and increase mobility in one of the county’s most congested travel corridors, it’s also creating jobs in the community.”
Under construction since fall 2011, the $1.5-billion project has created more than 3,000 jobs and provided work to about 300 small businesses. About half of those hired live within a five-mile radius of the project, or in zip codes with high rates of unemployment.
“Expo Line Phase Two puts people to work, greens the environment, and ultimately gets people where they need to be, both safely and efficiently,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “That’s the triple bottom line.”
The Exposition Construction Authority, an independent transportation planning, design and construction agency, contracted with Skanska-Rados Joint Venture to build the new rail line. This fall, it will turn over the system to Metro.
Phase 1 of the Expo Line stretches 8.6 miles and carries close to 30,000 passengers daily between downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. Phase 2 is a 6.6-mile extension to downtown Santa Monica that runs mostly parallel to the Interstate 10, giving commuters an alternative to the freeway. Its terminus is just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier, prompting Mayor Garcetti to say it can take passengers “from Grand (Avenue) to the sand.”
Both phases combined are projected to carry 64,000 passengers daily between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica by 2030.
Mayor Garcetti added Metro’s rail system is in the midst of an unprecedented expansion. Thanks to Measure R — a half-cent sales tax that voters agreed to pay over 30 years for transportation improvements — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector, and Purple Line Extension are simultaneously under construction, and more projects are in the pipeline.
“It is one of the largest public works programs in the US right now,” Mayor Garcetti said. “We’re putting Angelenos back to work, putting the recession in the rear view mirror, helping people get home faster to have dinner with their families, and providing traffic relief in the car capital of the world.”