Expo Update: FTA Gives Thumbs Up to Farmdale Station
Last week, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the proposed Farmdale Station for the Expo Line, clearing the Expo Construction Authority to begin construction of the station. The Notice of Availability for the FONSI can be found at the end of the article, or you can link to the relevant documents at the Expo Construction Authority’s website.
As one might expect, supporters of the Expo Line were happy with the result. Darrell Clarke, the co-chair of Friends for Expo Transit explains, “The FTA’s Finding of No Significant Impact re-affirms the safety of the Farmdale crossing, and allows the station there to finally begin construction.”
Of course, a FONSI is not just about safety. By issuing this approval, the FTA determined that construction and operation of the station will not increase the risk for crashes nor cause large increases in traffic congestion. Combined with the station’s approval from the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this year, the station has now passed the every administrative hurdle and only a judicial act or reversal by the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors could halt or postpone construction of the station. Tracks have already been laid across Farmdale, but now the rest of the station can move forward as well.
Will we see a legal response to the FTA’s filing? At publication time, it was too early to say. Although Citizens’ Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line has promised a response later today.
As is often the case with the Expo Line, the FTA’s ruling creates new questions. But these questions will be more comfortable for supporters of Expo.
The first is whether this means that Farmdale Station will open with the rest of Phase 1 “sometime in 2011?” If the station’s construction is not halted by a judge, it is now conceivable that it would not need a special opening date.
A rushed opening of the station is unthinkable. With the Gold Line Eastside Extension, Metro was still tinkering with safety features months after the station opened. Given the attention paid this particular station and crossing, it’s unlikely that Metro would open it unless the station was as safe as safe can be for an at-grade light rail station.
Another questions is whether or not the FTA’s thumbs up will impact station design and the timeline for completion of Phase II of the line? Expo activists seem to think so.
In an email statement, Karen Leonard of Light Rail for Cheviot writes, “Some of us from Cheviot Hills sent comments and spoke in favor of an at-grade crossing at Farmdale, and we welcomed the Expo Authority’s proposal of a station there.
This is great news, we hope there will be no further delays, we need the Expo Line and we need it as soon as possible. This is a good precedent for Phase II of the line.”
However, there is one thing we do know for certain. No matter how many “Last Battles” or landmarks the Construction Authority and their allies complete, the fight over the Expo Line won’t be over until the trains are running.
NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY
Final Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued a determination of Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared for the improvements at Farmdale Avenue and Exposition Boulevard that include the Farmdale Avenue station.
The FONSI and Final Supplemental EA are available for public review at the following locations:
1) Baldwin Hills Library, 2906 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90016
2) Jefferson Library, 2211 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018
3) Exposition Construction Authority, 707 Wilshire Boulevard, 34th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017
For more information on the Farmdale Station please visit the project website at BuildExpo.org or call the Expo Hotline at 213-922-EXPO(3976).