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Metro to Set Official Start Date for Expo Line in Santa Monica

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

February 24, 2016 -- The head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority on Tuesday was set to officially declare construction of the long-awaited Expo Line to Santa Monica completed, clearing the way for a start date for service to be set in the next 30 days, a spokesperson said.

Phillip Washington, Metro’s chief executive officer, was to sign a letter from the Exposition Construction Authority announcing that building of the massive project, including its state-of-the-art maintenance site at Stewart, is finished and ready for regular service, said spokesperson Anna Chen.

Signing off on the document transfers the estimated $1.5-billion project’s management so Metro can get started with full operation of the 6.6-mile extension – the first time in more than half a century the city by the bay has had such mass transit

Washington “is supposed to do it today,” Chen said of the signing Tuesday at mid-afternoon. “But we can’t officially accept it (the transfer of authority) until he puts pen to paper.”

Doing so also starts the clock ticking on picking a start date. Metro has said it has 30 days to do so. So far, officials have been careful to stick with broad start-up dates, like sometime this spring. Santa Monica Council Member Pam O’Connor said, though, trains might start rolling in on a daily basis later than that – possibly in June.

She said she is excited by the rapidly nearing start after so many years of talk and preparation in any case.

“I look forward to a summer riding the rails,” said O’Connor, who sat on the Metro Board of Directors from 2001 to 2015.

The Metro extension start date has been a big question is Santa Monica as the City steps up public safety, determines suitable development nearby and tries to help with congestion and a multitude of other issues associated with a big new train-riding population.

Officials have estimated 64,000 riders a day will hop the Metro to Santa Monica.

Last month, the Exposition Transportation Authority gave partial control to Metro, which allowed the agency to begin to its practice of “pre-revenue service,” or operating trains on a regular schedule to root any problems. Trial runs started in late 2015.

The line to downtown Santa Monica is Phase II of Metro’s westward expansion plans. The first phase ran from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and started regular public service in April of 2012. Construction of the second phase started the following summer. It continues through West Los Angeles running along the old Pacific Electric Exposition right-of-way to 4th Street and Colorado in Santa Monica’s downtown.

In between, the line will make stops at Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park,Expo/Sepulveda,Expo/Bundy,26th St./Bergamot and 17th St./Santa Monica College.

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