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Days of walking across Santa Monica light rail tracks are numbered

FILE: An Expo Line test train runs through downtown Santa Monica. The train is expected to open to the public in spring 2016.
FILE: An Expo Line test train runs through downtown Santa Monica. The train is expected to open to the public in spring 2016.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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The construction authority that’s building the Expo light rail extension into Santa Monica will vote Thursday on a measure to improve pedestrian safety around the tracks.

The Expo Metro Line Construction Authority board is moving to spend $450,000 on a fence that will run along a portion of Colorado Boulevard in Santa Monica.

The fence is intended to prevent pedestrians and others from crossing the light rail tracks, which might seem like common sense, but according to a Metro report, about 465 people a week have been doing just that.

Metro staff collected data from September and October tracking pedestrians, bike riders and skateboarders who entered the light rail right of way.
Metro staff collected data from September and October tracking pedestrians, bike riders and skateboarders who entered the light rail right of way.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metro similarly studied areas where the Gold Line Eastside Extension was built and found an average of 328 pedestrians crossing the tracks. Once fences were installed, incidents were reduced by 93 percent.

Santa Monica officials had initially rejected the fencing over concerns it would be unattractive and inhibit pedestrian access. But the City Council reversed course last month after seeing Metro’s report, and in the wake of a truck crash that derailed an Expo test train.

The extension, the second phase of the Exposition Transit Corridor project, is scheduled to open early this year. It will connect the Culver City Station to a stop at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue in downtown Santa Monica, creating the first rail link between downtown L.A. and Santa Monica in more than 50 years.