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Concerns Raised About Expo Street Crossings

A USC professor says three crossings are too complicated and urges Metro to add signs specifically designed to warn children of trains.

A month after Metro's Expo Line opened, safety questions are being raised about several street crossings along the light-rail route, including an intersection that forms a maze of track, traffic signals and warning signs for the public to navigate, it was reported Tuesday.

Najmedin Meshkati, a professor and safety expert at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering, asserts that precautions at three crossings along the 7.9- mile route between downtown Los Angeles and the Westside are "woefully inadequate," the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Expo Line service currently to a temporary end at La Cienega Boulevard. Two stations at Venice and Robertson boulevards in Culver City and a station near Dorsey High School at Farmdale Avenue will open soon, and when the $2.2 billion line is finished in 2015, , just a few blocks from the beach.

Two of the crossings at Western and Denker avenues bracket the Foshay Learning Center, which has about 3,400 students in kindergarten through high school. Meshkati, who has studied the Expo project for years, told the Times that Metro needs to add signs at crosswalks specifically designed to warn children of oncoming trains.

He says there are more potential safety problems at Rodeo Road and Exposition Boulevard, where parallel streets cross forming an X, with Expo trains traveling at 35 to 40 mph cutting through a complex array of traffic signals, signs and pavement striping.

The mash up of passenger rail, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians makes the intersection one of the most confusing and dangerous in Los Angeles County and one that should be redesigned and simplified, he told the Times.

"It's hard to believe they made this operational," Meshkati said. "The intersection is complicated, and the design is awkward. All it would take is a dark, rainy evening and a driver unfamiliar with the intersection."

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates rail crossings, disagree. Officials told the Times that Expo trains operate safely along the line, which has been thoroughly tested and evaluated during design and construction.

As long as people obey traffic signals and warning signs, they will be safe, they said.

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