At long last, we have an opening date for the Expo Line, the $932 million project that will connect the Westside to the city's light-rail network.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced this morning that the line will open to La Cienega Boulevard on Saturday, April 28.
The Expo Line has been fraught with delays and cost overruns. When it opens, it will be two years behind schedule and $292 million over its original budget.
It will also be incomplete. The last station, in Culver City, won't open until sometime this summer.
Villaraigosa and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials took media on a tour of the line this morning. It took about 28 minutes to go from downtown L.A. to the La Cienega stop -- but that was without making the stops in between.
MTA officials say that when it opens, it will take 30 minutes to go from downtown to Culver City. That makes the Expo Line the slowest in the city's light-rail system -- a bit slower than the Gold Line, which extends from Pasadena to East L.A.
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The project was hampered by community opposition at Dorsey High School. The solution -- an extra stop at Farmdale Avenue -- is part of the explanation for the delays, the slower speed, and the cost overruns. Expo Construction Authority officials also used an unusual contracting method, which ultimately left the authority on the hook for cost overruns.
MTA officials believe the line will be one of the most popular in the system, ultimately attracting 65,000 riders per day. At peak hours, MTA officials expect to run trains as often as every 5-6 minutes.
Engineers were working as recently as a few days ago to iron out some signaling problems between the Expo Line with the Blue Line, which share a segment of track in downtown L.A. The state Public Utilities Commission gave its final blessing on Thursday.
The second phase of the project, to Santa Monica, is scheduled to open in 2015.