Construction has begun on the long-awaited second phase of the Expo Light rail line. As a fellow traffic-fighter, I hope the Expo line fulfills its goal of easing Los Angeles' increasingly gridlocked streets. The second phase of the light rail line will connect the 6.6 miles between Culver City and Santa Monica.
The first phase of the Expo Line construction is gradually nearing completion. That phase of the project, which will connect the 8.6 miles between downtown and Culver City, began five long years ago, in 2006. The total time of a one-way trip is estimated to be 30 minutes. It is scheduled to open in early 2012. The project has been plagued by numerous problems, including delays and budgetary concerns.
The second phase is slated for completion in 2015. When the entire project is finished Angelenos will be able to hop on a train covering 15.2 miles from downtown to Santa Monica. Total ride time is said to be 46 minutes. That is certainly something that road weary travelers can smile about.
Is the project worthwhile? At $1.5 billion, the price tag for the second phase of the project is nothing to sneeze at. Certainly many have questioned whether this is the best use of our scarce resources. Unlike the first phase of the project, the second phase of the light rail project is largely funded by revenues from Measure R, a 2008 successful ballot measure which included a half-cent sales tax to be used for transportation projects.
As a daily commuter from the Westside to downtown, I welcome the creation of the Expo Line. Not since streetcars and trolleys traversed the area have Westsiders had a similar public transportation option.
While it is certainly expensive, so is the cost of so many hours of productivity lost to traffic. That is to say nothing of the hours we don't get to spend with family and friends. In addition, the cost and use of gas is no small issue. I for one would enjoy paying fewer visits to my neighborhood gas station.
And let's not forget about the possibility of helping the environment. Fewer cars on the road mean less pollution.
Here is one more consideration. In addition to easing traffic conditions once the Expo Line is completed, the project is also providing a number of people with jobs, right now. Sometimes job creation requires an outlay of funds.
So let's hear it for the Expo Line.