Work to extend the Expo Light Rail into Santa Monica from its current terminus in Culver City can proceed as planned, the California Supreme Court has ruled.
The state high court denied a motion late Wednesday brought by a local neighborhood group to temporarily block construction of the 6.6-mile stretch of light rail. The motion was filed as part of Neighbors for Smart Rail's lawsuit against the Expo Authority, which the group accuses of not properly studying the train's impact on traffic or emergency response times.
The court did not issue a written opinion explaining the reason for denying the request, which had also been denied at the superior and appeals court levels.
Expo Board Chairman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky applauded the ruling Thursday in a statement, saying it keeps the county's "efforts to build a modern transit system on-track" and preserves thousands of jobs.
Neighbors for Smart Rail believes if construction wraps up before the court rules, and the final decision is in the group's favor, the damage will be irreversible. Attempts to immediately reach the group—which is comprised of Westwood and Cheviot Hills residents—were unsuccessful.
Expo lawyers argued the anticipated opening date of 2016 would give the court enough time to rule on the neighborhood group's legal complaint before any trains start running.
"We appreciate that the California Supreme Court is allowing construction of Expo Phase 2 to continue," Expo Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe. “We’re continuing to make significant progress in extending light rail from Culver City to Santa Monica and look forward to bringing congestion relief to the Westside.”
Construction to build bridges for the $1.5 billion project is underway along the corridor between Culver City and Santa Monica. Stations will be built near Westwood and Pico Boulevards, Sepulveda Boulevard and Pico, Bundy Drive and Olympic Boulevard, Olympic and 26th Street, Colorado Avenue and 17th Street and Colorado and Fourth Street.
Once completed, it will take riders from downtown Los Angeles to just a few blocks near Santa Monica Beach.
— City News Service contributed to this report.