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

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. 

Garcetti
Mayor Garcetti welcomes Expo rail Phase 2 extending from “Grand to the Sand”
ExpotrainA15Jun29
Expo test train arrives at the Palms Station
Expotrainpress15Jun29
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
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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
ExpoPalmsart15Jun29
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.
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The not-yet-paved Expo bike path, looking east from the Palms Expo Station
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Most of the bike path between Venice and Palms appears nearly ready to be paved
Expobikepathpaved15Jun29
A short stretch of the Expo bike path is paved with fresh unmarked asphalt
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The Expo Bike Path (on right) view from Venice Boulevard
ExpoPalmsfromstreet15Jun29
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.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Doesn’t look there is any reference to the original Palms Station that stood here from 1875 to 1976. It is one of Los Angeles’ first cultural heritage landmarks and is used as a gift shop at Heritage Square near the Metro Gold Line in Montecito Heights.

  • God Metro sucks at bike parkin

    Terrible bike parking design. Why are the bike lockers facing “sideways”? Would be better for them to have their backs against the blank wall and face outward onto the street. And yeah, the u-racks are too close to the wall. Also, why is the bike parking in a seemingly desolate area and not near the entrance? Why does the bike parking not have any shelter from the elements (like rain and sun)? Why isn’t there any lighting specifically for the bike parking? If people are expected to go multi-modal and park their bikes at the station they want it to be in a highly-visible and used area. If people come back after it is dark they will want the area to be lit well. These are all no-nonsense measures that Metro knows how to design for cars but apparently not for bikes. Maybe bike parking should cost more and be flashier, then Metro would care about its appearance and placement.

  • Eric W

    Alway wondered — 90% of what? When did this interminable project start and how are we at 90%? Is it the number of spikes pounded or man-hours or what? I can’t imagine that’s measuring days.

    It is very nice to see progress. Does look like most of it is done. Maybe the Bike Path will be done enough without the 6 months of “testing” the trains are gonna get. Yeh, yeah I know the nicest part, seperated from the train track, will be in some future year, due to the Chevolet Hills failed lawsuits. But, I could use that Bike Path tomorrow!

    And if it’s reallllly ahead of budget, maybe they could shake loose a mini-gate for the Redeo Road crossing of one lane of the bike path. I know that’s in the past – Phase 1. But everything needs adjusting. Learn from the errors. Just needs a 4 foot wide gate. Not paint – gate! Just saying, to me that appears to be the most likely spot on the line to kill someone who isn’t careful.

    EricW

  • rickrise

    Nice try, Metro, but the bike racks are too few, badly installed, and appear to be placed in a far-from-optimal location. Safe, sufficient, and convenient bike parking is paramount to making the station attract users on bikes. Why is Metro yet again failing to accommodate the best-known method of solving the last-mile conundrum? Have they really not read any of the engineering research from around the world?

    If the photo represents all the bike parking at that station, then Metro is being dismissive of cycling and just throwing in the minimum to shut us up, rather than actually trying to use bikes to provide enhanced access to the station, the way agencies that actually give a damn are doing worldwide. (Not just in the Netherlands or Japan; BART does a far better job here in California, than Metro bothers to do.)

  • ubrayj02

    If you’ve ever seen how construction is managed, it is broken down into sub jobs with time and budget constraints. It is complicated task, and monumentally complicated for something like a light rail line, but every phase can be roughly approximated (and in some cases accurately scheduled) and thus a completion percentage is possible. When you sign a contract to do a job, there is a description of the finished work – so working backwards from there you can say how much of the job is done, and how much is left to do until you get to that agreed upon state of affairs. To make a profit, good contractors are well aware of their completion dates, costs, etc.

    People go to university and graduate with degrees in construction management these days.

  • ubrayj02

    What an ugly station! Not like it matters to me. I plan on only making one stop on this line once it is opened: Santa Monica, baby! Can’t gentrify me out of a TAP card yet you high flying westside 1%’ers!

    See you every Sunday in 2016 Googlers/Yahoo!-ers/etc.

  • Dwight Sturtevant

    Rickrise Metro had nothing to due with the design or construction of the Expo Line need to point blame at the Expo Construction Auth and not Metro

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The average commute times are longer on average for transit than it is for motorists. Los Angeles has frequently come out at the top of lists of U.S. cities with the greatest traffic congestion. That and LA being spread out geographically must create the highest commute times of any U.S. city, yet it doesn’t.

    On the Census Bureau American Survey (ACS) household survey results the average commute time for residents of the city of Los Angeles was 29.9 minutes on the 2013 results. San Francisco had 31.5 minutes average commute times, Chicago 33.7 minutes and New York City it was a whopping 39.7 minutes–about a third more than LA. Yet the average commute distance in the New York City metropolitan area is 7 miles and for the metropolitan area of LA its 8.8 miles. The reason for the longer commute times is that these cities have a higher percent of residents who use transit for commuting compared to LA. New York City has the highest percentage of commuters who use transit.

    If there is a significant increase in commuters using transit then the overall average commute times would go up. Yet politicians in LA have indicated that they favor a greater percentage of commuters using transit instead of driving even though this could increase the average commute times. Are they really just indicating that the motorists need to get improved commute times by shifting some of them over to transit?

    If politicians are comfortable with the average commute times going up then why are they so against increasing the average commute times for motorists if lanes are removed to install bike lanes?

    And why are meetings held to see if the majority of the public (motorists) approve of making safety improvements for bicycling? Were there meetings held to see what the majority of people thought about installing traffic signals at intersection which delays traffic? No. If there weren’t any motor vehicles then there would be not need for traffic signals. Pedestrians and bicycle riders negotiate intersections just fine without traffic signals when there are no motorists.

    Walk signals and cross walks also delay traffic. Were there meetings held to see if the majority of motorists approve of these because they were installed? No. But wouldn’t you know it that has to be done to install bike lanes.

    Traffic signals are installed at the top of freeway on-ramps to delay motorists from entering the freeway during peak hours. This can cause motor vehicles to be lined up for blocks on the streets. Were public meetings held to see if the majority of motorists who use these on-ramps approved of this. No. But there has to be meetings to determine if the majority of motorists approve of installing bike lanes. Why is that? Because bike lane installations can cause traffic delays and gosh darn we can’t have that.

    Los Angeles has a problem of demand exceeding the supply when it comes to transportation. There are too many cars for the amount of lanes. If there are no motor vehicle lanes removed to install bike lanes there will still be a increased delay of traffic over time from a greater number of drivers.

    The amount of traffic delay on a street that potentially could be due to a typical multi-mile bike lane installation on a street might be up to 4 minutes a day if you add in both directions of travel. That’s less than half of one percent of 16 waking hours if a person sleeps 8-hours a day. Its like an old Steve Martin joke when he was doing stand-up comedy where he apologized to an audience for being late. He said his flight was delayed by one-minute and that threw his schedule off.

  • Josef Taylor

    I can’t respond to your whole comment, but the issue with NY and SF is that they are small, job-dense islands/peninsulas, and everybody who doesn’t live on that bit of land has to commute a long distance. LA’s geographic constraints (the mountains) are further away, so more of the people who work in LA are living relatively close to LA. Because of that geographical constraint, LA is better off than NY and SF, by most measures of sprawl.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The commute times I mentioned are for residents of those cities. Average commute distances for the metropolitan area of Los Angeles (Long Beach, Anaheim and Los Angeles) are 8.8 miles and the metropolitan area of New York city (Long Island, New Jersey and New York City) its 7 miles.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Average commute times for driving in a metropolitan area is 24 minutes and for transit its 49 minutes–a whopping 25 minutes slower.

    http://interactives.ap.org/2015/commute-in-america/

  • Josef Taylor

    That is a super cool website, thanks!

    In clarification, when I say ‘close to LA’ I mean ‘Close to LA jobs’, i.e. not ‘outside of, but close to, the LA metro area’

    Check out the area and density of LA metro area:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_metropolitan_area
    vs. New York metro area:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_metropolitan_area

    LA wins at: 2,645 people/sq. mi
    NY has: 1,876 people/sq. mi

    That’s what I’m talking about. More people who work in LA live closer to their jobs, because we have less sprawl, because our geographical constraint is further out. If the mountains surrounded downtown LA, everybody would have to drive (or take a train) over the mountains to get to work, and we’d have slower commute times.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    New York City has a much higher population density (27,000 residents per sq. mile) than the city of Los Angeles (8,000 residents per sq. mile), source of that information is the Census Bureau. The commute distances for residents of NYC should therefore be shorter than for residents of the city of Los Angeles.

    As I stated above the average commute distance for the metropolitan area of Los Angeles is 8.8 miles and for New York City metropolitan area its 7 miles. My source for that information is the Brookings Institute.

  • Josef Taylor

    Metro area vs. City area.

    That commute time website is about people who live in the metro area commuting to work, so the fact that NY metro area (13.3k sqmi) is much much bigger than the LA metro area (4.8k sqmi) matters a great deal.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The Brookings Institute states that the average commute distance for the metropolitan area of LA is 8.8 miles and for the metropolitan area of New York city its 7 miles. That indicates the average commute distance for the metropolitan area of NYC is 80% of what it is for the metropolitan area of LA.

  • Josef Taylor

    Yes. That makes sense. I agree. Please read my previous comments where I explain why that makes sense, outside of what transportation mode each city tends to favor. Peace out.

  • User_1

    No one took a poll on how many of the officials actually take the Metro right?

    Who cares, the photo op looks great!

  • Metro doesnt know how to design for pedestrians – their customers – either. Once you step off the train youre on your own

  • chairs_missing

    As far as regional commuting… I wonder if it would be more fair to compare New York metro area (13,300 sq mi) with greater LA (33,954 sg mi).

    A lot of people way out in Ventura County, OC, IE, San Bernardino, etc. drive 50+ miles to work, without giving a second thought to how ridiculous that really is. Perhaps the same is also true in New York, I dunno?

    However, unlike New York City, it seems like these mega-commuters are the folks we engineer our streets and zone much of our city around. Hopefully now that the middle class is moving back to Central LA in pretty big numbers, that will change… but color me unimpressed with Garcetti and the new DOT head thus far.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Here’s a link that lists the average commuting mileage for major metropolitan areas:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/here-are-the-typical-commutes-for-every-big-metro-area-2015-03-25

    There is a tab at the top of the AP article that I gave a link to where you can choose a major metropolitan area to see the breakdown for the percentage of residents who commute by driving or taking transit and the average overall commute time. The average amount of commute time for driving for NYC, Chicago and LA metropolitan areas differs by only one minute. The difference in overall average commute times is the result of a higher or lower percent of people using transit vs driving. A greater percentage of the commuters who use transit causes the average commute time to go up. Hence the average commute times for the NYC metropolitan area is about 30% more than it is in the LA metropolitan area.

    http://interactives.ap.org/2015/commute-in-america/

  • Josef Taylor

    I clicked through and found the original study, here:
    http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/03/24-people-jobs-distance-metropolitan-areas-kneebone-holmes

    It does, indeed, refer to the same metro areas as the AP site. Because of that 7 vs. 8.8 mile issue, it’s a whole lot muddier than I thought. However, the Brookings folks are looking at median commute distance, and the AP is showing mean commute time. My guess, based on my limited knowledge of statistics, is that NY has a heavy bias towards a short commute, i.e. tons of folks with a very short commute (who live in the extremely dense core), then a wide range of commutes out to the far flung suburbs, way out in that giant metro area. That would skew the median lower than the mean. In LA, where there is not such a dense core, you’d expect the median to be very close to the mean.

    I suspect that between the mean-median bias and the relative sizes of these two metro areas, you’d see the gap between distance and time closed, but I can’t be sure. Either way, thanks for sending me on a wonk-binge!

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  • Kenny Easwaran

    As you note, Los Angeles has a problem of demand exceeding supply. Replacing two car lanes with a bidirectional turn lane and a pair of bike lanes increases supply. Replacing a car lane with a bus lane increases supply. Putting in rail transportation increases supply.

    If we’re going to move more people to and from all the places they will go in the future (because the population of the city is growing – and if you want to stop that, then you have to buck the national trend – and if you want to stop that, then you have to buck the global trend) then you need to increase the supply. If the people end up taking longer to get where they’re going, that’s a slight problem, but at least they can still get there, as opposed to if you force them to compete with cars, in which case they just can’t get there.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The demand exceeding supply that I was referring to was too many motor vehicles for the amount of lanes available. Taking away motor vehicle lanes does not increase the supply of motor vehicle lanes. Nor does putting in a bus only lane increase the supply of lanes for cars, trucks and vans which is the source of the demand exceeding the supply.

    Adding transit rail along an abandoned rail corridor or subway increases the capacity to move people, but it does not increase the supply of lanes for motor vehicles.

    Taking away motor vehicle lanes to install bike lanes increases the potential capacity to move people. In reality, though, it can decrease the ability to move people by reducing the number of motor vehicle through lanes. There is simply not enough people at this point who would ride a bicycle in the bike lanes to equal the amount of people moving in a motor vehicle lane. So in essence you would be decreasing the ability to move people by removing the motor vehicle lane.

    The major problem in reallocating space from cars, trucks and vans to other types of transportation is that the majority of trips are taken by cars, trucks and vans. From this point going forward its the council members in Los Angeles that are the decision makers on whether there is redistribution of space on streets to other types of transportation.

    So how do most of these council members determine whether they will allow that? They ask for feedback from constituents (the majority of whom usually drive) and find out what type of transportation is the majority of use on that street. Ex-council member Tom LaBonge was in favor of allowing bus only lanes during peak hours in his district along Wilshire Blvd because the majority of people travel by bus. Council members Paul Koretz and ex-council member Bill Rosendahl were against these bus only lane installations in their districts on the west side because the majority of trips there are by car.

    The ideal solution to move more people along arterial streets would be to remove the motor vehicle parking spaces and put in bus only lanes, and, or bike lanes. There should be adequate amounts of off-street parking installed to replace the on-street parking. The most successful retail shopping places in Los Angeles are shopping malls and these do not have parking directly in front of each store. You have to park in a garage and walk to the stores. Denmark and the Netherlands do not usually have motor vehicle parking on arterial streets. This is done not only for throughput but also because it reduces the potential conflicts from having the much greater mass and speed of moving motor vehicles next to people entering or exiting their parked vehicles.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Even when the capacity to move people along a corridor is increased by adding rail a reallocation of roadway space to install bike lanes is turned down. Wilshire Blvd, Vermont Ave, Lankershim Blvd and North Figueroa St all have transit rail underneath the street or closely parallels it.

  • I agree with you, but two small points.

    Removing a vehicle lane and replacing it with a bike lane does not reduce the ability to move people just because people are unwilling to switch their mode of transport and mounds of research show that doing so and replacing it (or parking, as you’ve indicated) with better bikeways is actually quite effective in getting more people willing to switch their mode.

    Also, speaking of parking, to say that there isn’t parking on arterials in The Netherlands is a bit of a misnomer. The Dutch frequently have frontage roads on the arterials (which usually double as protected bikeways) where parking is allowed.

  • Pretty sure that Metro set for the specifications of what they wanted the Expo line to do and look like. That the Authority came up with this shows that Metro obviously didn’t impart the importance of bike parking upon that group. So yes, although it technically isn’t Metro building it, they are still dropping the ball. Alternatively, we’ve just found a better way to use that $11mn that they pledged for bike share: bike parking at the train stations after this Expo Phase II is opened.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    When you remove a motor vehicle lane that moves 20-25% of traffic on a street and replace it with bike infrastructure, for the 1% who bicycle, the rate of bicycling does not immediately increase by 2000% to 2500% to match the throughput that was taken away. So in reality you are frequently decreasing the ability to move people along a street when you remove motor vehicle lanes to install bike lanes.

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