Expo Station Coming to Farmdale and Exposition?
The strange saga of the Expo Light Rail Line continued yesterday when Judge Maribeth Bushey of the California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposed amendment to the environmental documents for the Expo Line Phase I that would allow the construction of a rail station at the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Farmdale Avenue, right next to Dorsey High School. The CPUC has previously ruled that the intersection has to have a pedestrian bridge because the proposed at-grade design was ruled unsafe. You can read the full text of Bushey's proposal, here. If you're just interested in reading about the design of such a station, post #872 on the Expo Forum on the Transit Coalition message boards has the details.
The addition of this station to the environmental documents isn't expected to effect the construction schedule. Until the station could be completed, if the Exposition Construction Authority and CPUC decide that's the direction they wish to go, a "stop and proceed" system would be used for passing trains. Why the "stop and proceed" couldn't be a permanent, less costly, solution to the safety issues isn't addressed. However, with the contractor predicting the line not to be completed for 58 weeks after the original estimation, it's going to at least be the summer of 2011 before Expo Phase I is open to the public.
Anyone expecting this proposed solution to be the end of the debate is going to be surprised. Proponents for building the Expo Line as quickly as possible seem non-pulsed by the solution. Proponents of grade-separated crossings were even more blunt. Via email, Damien Goodmon wrote, emphasis mine,:
This is not a proposed decision to grant Expo the authority to build across the intersection. Such will still require a hearing. Rather it is a proposed action to amend the EIR to provide environmental clearance for two of the options currently proposed by the Expo Authority at the Farmdale crossing, so should they be adopted they can be built more quickly. We are currently reviewing the document. On its face, we're amazed that Bushey would propose something without even allowing the public to comment.
The view of the community on this issue is well known. Resurrecting the "holding pen" and adding palm trees and a station to it doesn't change the reality that internationally-renowned rail safety experts with credentials and credibility far greater than any Expo or CPUC politician or staffer have repeatedly warned that an at-grade crossing at the intersection is a catastrophic accident waiting to happen.
As a point of information, this is the same type of "pre-environmental approval" that Expo could have obtained months ago for a grade separated train flyover or under-crossing at Farmdale, but Rick Thorpe and the incompetent and corrupt Expo staff and Board refuse to recognize the inevitable. I don't see how they're allowed to keep their jobs while confidently pursuing additional and unnecessary delays and costs to this project, instead of listening to the community and resolving the issue.