In 2003, the Expo Line project was approved by state legislation, and planning started to build the Los Angeles Metro Rail Systems’ sixth light rail line. With the City of Los Angeles continuously growing, the goal of this project was simple, to connect Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Santa Monica to facilitate Angelenos’ commute in an efficient and safe manner, thereby reducing our city’s dependency on vehicles, reducing traffic congestion and reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions. The Expo Line mainly follows the route of the Santa Monica Air Line, an electric streetcar that ran from the early 20th century until 1953. It is named the “Expo” line after Exposition Boulevard; the street that most of the train line is located upon.
This new line was built in two phases and consists of 19 stations, three of which are located in Council District 5 (Westwood/Rancho Park station, Palms station and Sepulveda station). The first phase consisted of 12 stations ranging from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and was entirely operational and open to the public by June 2012. The second phase was approved in 2010 and included 7 additional stations that would connect the Expo Line from Culver City westward to Santa Monica, including those in Council District 5.
Phase 2 was completed in early 2016 and on May 20, 2016, the entire Expo Line was officially opened, marking a new milestone in Los Angeles’ efforts to revitalize its public transport systems. With trains running often, the Expo Line has shown itself to be an efficient addition to Los Angeles public transport network, serving approximately 46,000 riders a day during the week. Additionally, in an effort to encourage Los Angeles’ growing population to use bicycles, which have both health benefits and help reduce vehicle emissions, 180 bike racks and 102 bike Lockers were incorporated along the 19 Expo Line stations. There is also bike lanes and pedestrian paths along many portions of Exposition Boulevard to facilitate commuter’s access to and from the Expo Line and their destination.
The state legislature created a separate Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors to direct the management of this $1.5 Billion public works construction project. Councilmember Koretz served first as an alternate board member and then as a full board member of this body until 2015. He served on this body through the completion of Phase 1 of this project and through most of the construction for Phase 2, much of which travels through Council District 5.
Councilmember Koretz and his staff have worked to actively mitigate a broad range of Phase 2 light rail and bikeway design and construction mitigation challenges throughout the duration of this project. A number of significant design changes supported by the Councilmember will improve safety along the line for both pedestrians and for bicyclists. Councilmember Koretz also led the effort to change the Expo Construction Authority’s original Phase 2, City of LA section, landscape plan from using less than 3% native plants to a ground-cover palette of 100% native plants. Also, because of his efforts, all trees planted along the Expo line between Overland Avenue and Westwood Boulevard will be native species only. (Please see the Native Plants section of the website for more information on why this is so important).
The Councilmember also led the way to require the Expo Construction Authority to pay for much of the cost of installing new, improved pedestrian sidewalks where there had previously been none adjacent to the Sepulveda Expo station and across from the Expo Palms station.
On May 20, 2016, the Expo Line, Phase 2 opened for business!
Councilmember Koretz joined Mayor and MTA boardmember Eric Garcetti, Inglewood Mayor and Metro boardmember James Butts, former LA County Supervisor and former Metro boardmember Zev Yaroslavsky, State Senator Ben Allen, State Assemblymember Richard Bloom, Culver City Councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells, Metro boardmember Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Culver City Mayor Jim Clarke, and LA County Supervisor and Metro boardmember Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Councilmember Koretz addressed the crowd, emphasizing the importance of building more transit, more quickly in order to mitigate both climate change, local air pollution and the severe traffic congestion Los Angeles is facing.
Councilmember Koretz celebrates the Expo opening with his Chief Transportation Deputy, Jay Greenstein, who worked hard with the Councilmember on the Expo Board initiatives.
As Los Angeles continues to face new climatic, economic and social challenges, the arrival of the Expo Line demonstrates the City’s strong commitment to reinventing itself into a sustainable and thriving city of the future.
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