The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Thursday night approved a railway to the beach, but it wasn't the “subway to the sea” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been touting as a way to get from downtown to Beverly Hills and ultimately to Santa Monica.

The board voted to approve a final, seven-mile leg of the already-under-construction Expo Line. The last leg, “phase two,” will run from Culver City to Santa Monica, concluding only blocks from Santa Monica pier. (Map).

The MTA approved tapping $1.5 billion in state funds to seed the above-ground, light-rail project. Residents in Cheviot Hills have fought the plan for years, even though the line wouldn't run through their neighborhood (it would run close, to the south). Some would like to see at least part of the line run underground in the area, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Now that a Westside light rail line has been approved, does L.A. need a second transit railway concluding only a few blocks north in Santa Monica too? It's already part of the MTA's $298 billion Long Range Transportation Plan, so it could be a done deal.

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