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Expo Line Details Shared at Community Meeting

Exposition Authority briefs public on plans and upcoming construction on the second phase of construction from Culver City into Santa Monica. Second community meeting is July 18 in Santa Monica.

The first of two community meetings on the wrapped up Tuesday at the Vista del Mar Family Center in Palms, with residents getting a peek at the construction schedule through 2016.

Next year, crews will construct stations and install the track. In 2014, crews will work on roadway improvements, the electricity system and train controls. And in 2015, the project will wrap up with train testing and landscaping.

Major construction plans in Santa Monica include utility relocation and replacement of parking options along Colorado Avenue and inserting mechanically stabilized embankments at the Olympic/Cloverfield Bridge and the Centinela Bridge. Soundwall construction, underdrain installation, water line relocations, ground grading and building demolition will take place throughout the western corridor.

Trains will be operational in 2016.

When completed, the $2.4 billion, 15.2-mile Expo line will run between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. Construction of the first phase, connecting Culver City to downtown Los Angeles, began in 2006. Culver City celebrated .

The second phase, approved in 2010, adds stations operating from Santa Monica to Culver City. Click here for an interactive map.

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Expo Authority representatives promised to give advance notice of construction plans and how they will ease traffic woes and construction noise—two of residents' biggest concerns—by using sound blankets and possibly disabling back-up alarms.

Pre-construction activity has included sewer relocation throughout Santa Monica, sewer encasement near Granville Avenue, pavement and soil removal near Centinela Avenue, building demolition at 2222 S. Centinela Ave. and 1601 14th St. in Santa Monica, surveying, potholing and work on underground utilities.

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For some, landscaping remains a contentious component of the planning process. As attendees entered the gym before the presentation, Charles Miller handed out fact sheets from LA Native, the group he founded that is dedicated to building a coalition to support the use of native plants.

The current design for the scond phase, drawn up by Marina Landscape, Inc., calls for Chinese Gingko (which was used along the Culver City to downtown Expo route) and Mexican Fan Palm. 

"We have repeatedly reached out to the Expo Authority and Marina Landscaping offering the free assistance of our native plant experts in our coalition, and thus far they've neglected to take us up on that offer or reply," Miller told Patch later by telephone.

Expo Authority representatives say they have taken community input to heart by modifying designs for many stations. Alterations include increased pedestrian plaza space and more accessible ticket vending machines at National/Palms; moving the bike path for safety and shortening the Kiss-n-Ride at Expo/Westwood; adding a second entrance and changing a center platform to side platforms at Olympic/26th and making another entrance at Colorado/17th.

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Ralph Cantos, a resident of the Pico-Robertson area and a member of Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society, recalled during the open house session how attitudes have shifted since 1987, when he and other advocates of light rail held a meeting to encourage the MTA to purchase building rights for the line. Back then, many residents opposed the idea. "It was so hostile. People would bring signs. It was unbelievable," he said. "I think things have calmed down."

"I think we have made a lot of progress with design and construction, and we've gotten a lot of great community input on stakeholder impact," said Samantha Bricker, chief operating officer for the Exposition Construction Authority.

A second presentation and open house session will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 18 in the East Wing Meeting Room of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St. Parking will be free.

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