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E Line (Expo Line)

Photo Essay: Expo Phase 2 Construction 90+Percent Done, Open Early 2016

4:34 PM PDT on June 29, 2015

Metro Expo Line test train at Palms Station this morning. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Metro Expo Line test train at Palms Station this morning. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin, and others hosted a press event this morning to showcase progress on the Metro Expo Line Phase 2. The event took place at the under-construction Palms Station, and featured a test train pulling into the station under its own electrical catenary power. Leaders enthused that construction is more than 90 percent complete, and the project is on-time and on-budget.

It has been a while since trains ran on these tracks. Passenger service last ran in the 1950s, though freight trains continued through the 1980s. On June 15th, photos surfaced on social media showing a test train traveling the line.

The opening date isn't set yet, but the most recent Metro estimates show a completion date of April 2016, one month after the also under-construction Foothill Extension of the Metro Gold Line, projected to open March 2016. There's still quite a bit of work to do, so if you're adding these dates to your calendar, use a pencil.

One anticipated wrinkle, reported earlier at Santa Monica Next, is a possible longer-than-usual headway when Expo Phase 2 first opens. According to a Metro staff report, if all these construction schedules remain on track, Metro anticipates a “temporary shortage of light rail vehicles.” Metro anticipates initially operating Expo trains every 12 minutes at peak hours. The poor headways shouldn’t last long, though; as more trains become available, the Expo Line headways reduce to every six minutes.  And it gets better in the near future. The six-minute wait time goes down to a five-minute wait time when Metro opens its Regional Connector subway, currently anticipated in 2020.

Below is a photo essay of the Expo train, station, and parallel bikeway under construction today. 

Mayor Garcetti welcomes Expo rail Phase 2 extending from "Grand to the Sand"
Expo test train arrives at the Palms Station
Assembled media checking out the Expo test train
Expo train
Various people working on Expo 2 were on hand to celebrate the nearly-completed line
Signage in front of the Palms Station, located at the intersection of Palms Blvd, Exposition Blvd, and National Blvd - just over a mile west of the Expo's current terminus in Culver City
Capoeira-themed panel, part of Shizu Saldamando's art in the Palms Expo Station. For more art background, see this article at The Source.
platform xxx
Though the construction is mostly complete, there are definitely aspects that need a bit more work. This open gap in the station platform has a styrofoam spacer
bike parking
There is some bike parking, three U-racks and a half-dozen lockers. The racks seem to be a little closer to the wall than would be optimal, but the racks are usable.
The not-yet-paved Expo bike path, looking east from the Palms Expo Station
Most of the bike path between Venice and Palms appears nearly ready to be paved
A short stretch of the Expo bike path is paved with fresh unmarked asphalt
The Expo Bike Path (on right) view from Venice Boulevard
Expo Line test train at Palms Station
train leaving
After the press had largely cleared out, the train departed westward under its own power

Stay tuned to Streetsblog L.A. for more on Expo rail and bikeway as the projects near completion.

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