Jul 29, 2014
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Ending Expo Work Would Cost $90M, Agency Says

Neighborhood group seeks stay on construction as part of its case against the light rail's connection from Culver City to Santa Monica.

Ending Expo Work Would Cost $90M, Agency Says

A motion brought by a local neighborhood group to halt Expo Light Rail's construction from Culver City to Santa Monica would cost thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars if granted by the California Supreme Court, government officials said Monday.

Neighbors for Smart Rail—a group of Westwood and Cheviot Hills homeowners—is seeking a stay as part of its case, which currently under review by the state high court, accusing the Expo Authority of not preparing a proper environmental review of the trains impact on its neighborhood.  If construction wraps up before the court rules, and the decision is in the group's favor, NFSR has argued the damage will be irreversible.

But delaying the project for a year would cost $90 million and result in the loss of more than 4,000 "direct and indirect jobs," according to Expo Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

"The harm to the economy, local jobs and our efforts to build a modern transit system would be substantial," he said in a statement.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority filed their opposition to the stay on Monday.

The first segment of the Expo—between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City—opened to riders in the spring of 2012. The second stretch to Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica is expected to open in 2016.

See: [PHOTOS] Expo Rail Making Its way to Santa Monica

Major work underway is already underway to link the train to just short of the beach includes construction of bridges at Centinela Avenue, Motor Avenue, Sepulveda Boulevard, Olympic/Cloverfield Boulevard, National/Palms Boulevard and Bundy Drive.

In its suit, NFSR contends the Exposition Metro Construction Authority improperly used hypothetical 2030 traffic conditions as a baseline to measure the Expo Line's effects on traffic and air quality on the Westside. The petition for review also argued that the Expo Authority failed to mitigate anticipated parking problems around proposed stations.

An appeals court disagreed, ruling that using present-day traffic and air quality measures to gauge the need for the second phase of the Expo Line would "yield no practical information to decision makers or the public."

Judges also agreed the Expo Authority's proposed parking mitigation measures were sufficient.

Neighbors for Smart Rail appealed, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

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