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Test Train and Pickup Collide in Santa Monica
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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP


Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

 

By Jorge Casuso

May 13, 2016 -- An Expo train testing the new light rail service scheduled to open in Santa Monica next week collided with a pickup truck making an illegal turn Wednesday evening, police officials said.

The train stayed on the tracks and no one was hurt in the accident, which took place at around 7:30 p.m. at the intersection of Lincoln and Colorado Boulevard, police and fire department officials said.

The driver of the pickup and the train conductor were the only occupants in the vehicles, said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the police department spokesman.

Both vehicles were headed eastbound on Colorado when the truck, which was traveling south of the tracks made an illegal left turn northbound on Lincoln in front of the train, Rodriguez said.

The train "clipped" the truck, damaging the rear left fender, rim, tire and bumper, he said. The impact bent the the train's front coupler, which is used to attach the cars, and broke the right headlight.

There is no crossing gate at the intersection, but several signs are posted warning motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to watch for oncoming trains, Rodriguez said.

"I'm sure we're going to have quite a few of these until people in the city and those who come here get used to the train," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully, there will be no bad accidents, and we can overcome any growing pains so no one gets hurt."

It is the second train crash in Santa Monica, which has not had passenger rail service in more than 60 years, since the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) began testing trains in the bayside city last August.

The first collision took place on December 10 when the driver of an 18-wheel truck made an illegal left turn at the Colorado and 7th Street intersection, heading into the path of a train being tested. The train hit the side of a tanker and subsequently derailed ("Expo Test Train Collides with 18 Wheeler in Santa Monica," December 11, 2015).

One week later, the City Council reversed its earlier stance and voted to install fencing around the rail line. Metro is to pay the estimated $450,000 cost ("Santa Monica Will Add New Fencing Around Exxpo Rail Tracks," December 18, 2016).

Santa Monica has mounted a public safety campaign to educate the public about safety issues posed by the arrival of the train, and police have been attending neighborhood watch meetings and public events to "speak about avoiding accidents, Rodriguez said.

City and Metro officials say it is important to know that trains require 200 feet to come to a complete stop, and rain can make it harder to use emergency braking and slows the train operator’s response times.

In October, Metro officials reported that between September 24 and October 26 staff had recorded more than 2,788 instances of pedestrians trespassing on the guideway, 503 instances of bicyclists and 153 of skateboarders ("Pubic Offered Warnings and Safety Tips as Expo Line Debut in Santa Monica Nears," January 20, 2016).

Next Friday, the mayors of Santa Monica and LA and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials will cut a ribbon at the new Downtown Station at Colorado and 4th Street to officially mark the opening the final 6.6-mile leg of the Expo Line from Downtown LA to the beach city ("Santa Monica Officials Release Details of Expo Festivities," April 11, 2016).


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