Southland officials break ground on Expo Line to Santa Monica

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Local elected officials, transportation authorities and community stakeholders attended a groundbreaking Monday in Santa Monica for Phase 2 of the Expo Line project which will extend from Culver City to the Westside.

Southland officials gathered Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony in Santa Monica to start construction on the second phase of the Expo Line. Organizers held the event at what will become the final stop of the Expo Line at Colorado Avenue and Fourth Street.

The 6.5 mile light rail line extension will carry Westside commuters practically to the beach by connecting Culver City to Santa Monica. The project is estimated to cost more than $1.5 billion.

Developers say they’ll try to avoid the type of problems that arose during construction on the first phase of the Expo Line, an 8.5-mile stretch from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. The price tag for that project has ballooned by some $300 million over original projections. Crews have experienced countless delays but hope to get trains rolling early next year.

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Blum thanked developers for moving the project forward, saying, "The light rail line is going to help us reconnect with all of our communities. Everyone here has a community that they represent.

"We’re all going to be much better for having this project," he added.

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is equally optimistic, and said he expects the construction will run smoothy, “this is the first project by action of the Expo board to make sure that this project is built on time and on budget with a project labor agreement; it means it will be an excellent project for us to celebrate.”

Transportation officials say the latest phase should be finished by 2015. Voters paved the way for funding of the project by approving Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects.

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