Fear of Federal Oversight Imperils Expo Bikeway

1_28_09_exp.jpg

Last month when I first looked through the environmental documents for the proposed Phase II of the Expo Line, I was encouraged because the maps included with the Draft Environmental Impact Review required by clearly showed a completed bike trail connecting Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles.  Appendix E of the DEIR actually includes a description of what facilities along the trail would look like.

However, according to the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, the bike trail portion of the proposed Expo Line is currently endangered by a decision by the Expo Construction Authority.  In an email to supporters, the Bike Coalition asks members to contact the politicians that makeup the Expo Board to pressure them to include the bike path in its final plan.

What’s happened is that the Expo Construction Authority decided to refuse federal money for the project so that they can avoid going through the NEPA process or any other federal oversight.  Unfortunately, the bike trail is completely funded by those federal dollars, so even though the money is available, the Expo Construction Authority isn’t willing to do the work needed to procure those funds and build the bike trail.

Expo’s solution is that "others" should be responsible for completing the trail.  Whoever these "others" are, Expo, Metro, Caltrans are all possibilities, they would be responsible for completing the federal environmental review.  If Expo won’t consider moving forward with the bikeway and the federal review on its own, it would be preferable if the "others" committed to the project before the current state mandated environmental review is completed.

A complete copy of the bike coalition’s action alert, including who to contact and how to comment, is available after the jump:

Background:
A
new light rail line, called the Expo Line, will eventually extend from
downtown to Santa Monica.  The project is divided into two phases. 
Phase I is under construction and will end at Robertson & Venice in
Culver City.  Phase II will extend the line from there to Santa
Monica.  Phase II is still in planning phases, and a draft environmental impact report was released last week.  


One
of the things that has been promised for the Expo Line is a bikeway
adjacent to the train line.  This would create a continuous bikeway
from Santa Monica to downtown if it were built!  


Recently,
the Expo Construction Authority decided NOT to include the bikeway in
the environmental review for Expo Phase 2, to avoid the burden of
doing a federal environmental impact statement. Thus, the
bikeway segment of the plan will not be considered by Expo Construction Authority even though it has federal funding.


This has created
serious uncertainties about how, when or if an Expo Bikeway will ever
be built.  


TAKE ACTION:
If
we want the bikeway to be part of the Expo Line project, it is
IMPERATIVE that our elected city officials hear our demands to build the bike path simultaneously with the rail line. 



Please contact our
representatives now and attend one of the upcoming hearings (dates and
locations below).  


Key points to make:



The bikeway must be built simultaneously with the Expo project. If it
is not included in the environmental review, we need a commitment and a
plan from Expo on how that will happen.




If the Expo Bikeway is not built at the same time as the rail line, costs will increase dramatically and
construction difficulties could arise if light rail construction  does not provide space for the bike path.




The
goal of the Expo project is to reduce auto use.  The bikeway is a
critical component for achieving this.  It can deliver transit users to
stations without car trips and provides a much-needed crosstown
commuter bikeway.    




If
Expo must forgo using federal money for the light rail component, they
should also secure funding from other sources for the bikeway.



– The Expo Bikeway is a wonderful opportunity to expand our
network of safe bike routes for a growing community of cyclists.



ATTEND A MEETING (see below) and speak in support of the Expo Bikeway!



Please WRITE or CALL
no later than 5:00 pm on March 13, 2009 to ask for a bikeway to be included in Expo Line construction!



Contact info: Call,
snail mail, and/or email your comments to:


The Expo Line DEIR is open for public comment online at:
http://www.buildexpo..org/phase2_overview.php or email <phase2@exporail.net>



Jan Perry
EA
Chair and LA City Council Member, 9th District

(213) 473-7009
Jan Perry <Jan.Perry@lacity.org>

Herb Wesson,Jr.
EA Vice-Chair and LA City Council Member,
10th District

(213) 473-7010
Herb Wesson Jr <councilmember.wesson@lacity.org>

Scott
Malsin

Mayor, Culver City
(310) 398-3183
Scott Malsin
<scott.malsin@culvercity.org>


Bernard Parks
LA City Council Member, 8th
district


(213) 473-7008

Bernard Parks <councilmember.parks@lacity.org>


Zev
Yaroslavsky


LA County Supervisor, Third District


(213) 974-3333

Zev Yaroslovsky <zev@bos.lacounty.gov>


Pam
O’Connor


Santa Monica City Council Member, City of Santa Monica


(310) 458-8201


Pam O’Connor <pam.oconnor@smgov.net>



Mark
Ridley-Thomas


L.A. County Supervisor, Second District

(213) 974-2222
Mark Ridley-Thomas <seconddistrict@bos.lacounty.gov>

Meetings:
Please 
attend a meeting and speak up for better biking in LA! 


When:Wednesday,February 18, 2009
5:00 to 8:00 PM

Where:Santa Monica High School, Cafeteria
           601
Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles 90405


When:Monday,February 23, 2009
5:00 to 8:00 PM
Vista

Where: Del Mar Child and Family Services,
Gymnasium

           3200 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles 90034
When:Wednesday,February 25, 2009
5:00 to 8:00 PM

Where:Webster Middle School, "Daniel’s Den"

          11330 W. Graham Place, Los Angeles
90064


Thank you!   

  • Unbelievable. Just un-effing-believable.

  • Dane Bramage

    Would this path qualify for the new Federal Stimulus funds? I can imagine that the cost is a ‘drop in the bucket’ compared to other projects that would get funds.

  • Dare someone ask, why the Expo Authority is fearful of federal oversight.

    =-o

  • How much could this bike path cost? $12 million?

    That is nothing relative to what we spend on an annual basis.

  • I can understand why the Authority is likely to not want federal funding. There are a lot of strings attached to taking federal funds, which require jumping through a lot of hoops and tends to make construction go at a much slower pace. Perhaps the bikeway can be advanced as a separate project for funding purposes from the feds. That may mean it’ll open after the rail line depending on timetables, funding cash flow, etc.

  • The bike-path SHOULD be a separate project, and it SHOULD apply for federal funds. That’s ok, (though not ideal) that it would open a bit later than the expo rail line. It’s better than no bike path at all!

    The orange line bike-path really does contribute some non-motorized community feel to the valley. It’s a good model. We should follow it on our other light-rail lines.

  • I think I would gladly join any fight against the Expo Line if it will not get built with a bike lane. Damien (Goodmon), where do I sign up??

  • Umberto:

    You bring the sticks I’ll bring the kerosine!