Expo Phase 1 (Los Angeles Metro)

Expo Phase 1 (Los Angeles Metro)
LAMetroLogo.svg  Expo Phase 1    
Type light-rail (LRT)
System Los Angeles County Metro Rail
Status Under construction
Locale Los Angeles
Termini 7th St/Metro Center
Culver City
Opened 2011-2012 (expected)
Operator(s) Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)

Expo Phase 1 (formally, Metro Rail Exposition Corridor, Phase 1) is a current construction project for the first segment of Metro Expo line, the newest line on the Metro Rail System.[1] and will connect Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, mostly along the Exposition Boulevard right-of-way. The project is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 29, 2006. Construction is expected to be completed to La Cienega and Jefferson Boulevards in Los Angeles in November 2011, and to Culver City (Venice and Robertson Boulevards) in early 2012.

It is being implemented by the 'Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority' (or Expo Authority).[2] FCI/Fluor/Parsons, a joint venture, is the design-build contractor.

The Expo Line for the most part follows the right of way of the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad between Redondo Junction (a railroad interconnection point south of downtown Los Angeles) and Santa Monica. This line also was used for Pacific Electric interurban passenger service until 1953, and from then until 1987 was a freight spur for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was originally called the Santa Monica Air Line because it was a straight line from L.A. to the sea.


Review and design process

Environmental review for Expo Phase 1 began in May 2000, when Metro published a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS. A public scoping period concluded in June 2000. The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was completed in April 2001. The DEIR considered BRT and LRT alternatives, in addition to the required No-Build and TSM alternatives. At the end of DEIR public comment period in June 2001, the Metro Board approved the DEIR and adopted a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) which included LRT along the Exposition Corridor. This single alternative was further studied and refined in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). In December 2005, the Expo Board approved the FEIR for Phase 1 and selected the LRT alternative.[3]


Flower Street alignment

Originally, Expo staff studied connecting the Blue Line corridor to the Exposition ROW via Hill Street. This alignment would have included a station at 21st/Hill. However, the FEIR also considered a Flower Street alignment as a design option. This design option included stations at 23rd/Flower and Jefferson/Flower, a new bridge over I-110, and a trench underpass between Flower and Figueroa Streets. The Flower Street alignment was approved with the FEIR in December 2005.[4]

USC/Expo Park station

The president of the University of Southern California, Steven Sample, opposed having a light-rail line passing close to campus. However, the line did have support from students, faculty and other stakeholders. In August 2007, the Expo Board approved a new station at Exposition and Trousdale, to provide better access to USC, Exposition Park museums, and the L.A. Coliseum.[5]

Western terminus at Culver City

Originally, Metro had considered building an interim station at its western terminus, near the intersection of Washington/National, and the permanent Culver City station at Venice/Robertson was to be built as part of Expo Phase 2. However, in November 2007, the Metro Board reversed this position, deciding to skip the interim station and build the permanent station as part of Phase 1.[6][7]

Farmdale station and Harvard crossing

In December 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved all Phase 1 railroad crossings, except for two: the Farmdale Avenue at-grade street and pedestrian crossing near Dorsey High School, and the Harvard Boulevard below-grade pedestrian crossing for the.[8][9] The grade crossings had been the subject of protest from some community groups, who believed the crossings, both near schools, will be unsafe for students.[10]

In February 2008, the Expo Board unanimously voted to do an environmental-assessment study on all possible crossing alternatives at Farmdale Ave, including but not limited to: at-grade, above-grade, below-grade, pedestrian bridge, pedestrian underpass, street closure, or some combination.[11] Expo also requested CPUC to proceed with application process for the original Farmdale Ave gated at-grade-crossing design, in tandem with the environmental-assessment study by the authority for other alternatives.

In October 2008, the Administrative Judge Kenneth L. Koss of CPUC denied Expo's application for the at-grade crossing at Farmdale Avenue and the grade-separated pedestrian crossing (existing tunnel) at Harvard Blvd.[12] Judge Koss instead recommended closing Farmdale Avenue at Exposition and building a pedestrian bridge. He also found that the existing grade-separated crossing, a shallow pedestrian tunnel at Harvard Avenue, is locked most of the day and not accessible, presents security concerns against criminal activity, and is not ADA-compliant, and hence should be replaced by a pedestrian bridge as well.[13][14]

In February 2009, the CPUC issued a revised decision. The decision stated that Expo did not have to build a new pedestrian bridge at Harvard Avenue, as long as it implemented alternative safety mitigations.[15]

In December 2009, Expo confirmed a settlement of the issue. The settlement allows the crossing to remain open, but requires a new station to be added at Farmdale Avenue. Furthermore, the new station must be designed to require a full stop of all trains before entering the grade-crossing. The design includes an eastbound platform on the southwest corner of the crossing, and a westbound platform on the northeast corner of the crossing. This forces all trains to stop and allow passengers to alight and board before entering the crossing. [16][17]

Integration with Blue Line

At the Expo board meeting on January 14, 2010, it was announced during the project-status presentation that CPUC demanded automatic train protection (ATP) at the Washington Blvd and Flower St three-way rail–rail crossing between the Expo and the Blue Lines. The safety enhancement was expected to cost $4–6 million and to delay the project by 6–9 months. The additional money is being provided by Metro.

Name and color

In public and private documents, Metro refers to the line as the "Metro Expo Line." This name comes from Exposition Boulevard, along which it runs for much of its route. (Exposition Boulevard is, in turn, named after Exposition Park, which the Expo Line will serve). The line has not yet been assigned a route number: the next available Metro Rail route number is 806.

The "Expo Line" is different from the other Metro Rail lines because it is not named after a color. Thus, two things will eventually have to be decided: (1) what color to use to show the line on maps, and (2) whether or not to change the name to reflect that color.

Although the Expo Line does not yet have an official color, the color "aqua" has been associated with the line for many years. The advocacy group "Friends 4 Expo," which originally referred to the line as the "Expo Line," later campaigned for the name "Aqua Line" as the new name and color.

In August 2006, the Metro Board debated the issue at its regular Board meeting. Councilmember Bernard Parks introduced a motion to use "rose" for both the name ("Rose Line") and color, but this was not passed. In the end, the board deferred a decision on changing the name or setting the color until sometime before the line goes into service.

Project description

Route and stations

The Expo Phase 1 project created a new 7.5-mile light-rail corridor, which begins at the Metro Blue Line at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Flower Street (just south of Downtown Los Angeles), and stretches west toward a terminus at Venice/Robertson in Culver City.

The new corridor includes 10 new stations:

  • 23rd Street
  • Jefferson/USC
  • Expo Park/USC
  • Vermont/Expo
  • Western/Expo
  • Crenshaw/Expo
  • Farmdale
  • La Brea/Expo
  • La Cienega/Jefferson
  • Culver City

The new Expo Line service will utilize this corridor when it begins revenue service. It will also utilize about 1 mile of existing Metro Blue Line corridor in Downtown L.A. This shared corridor includes track, facilities and stations on Flower Street north of Washington Boulevard, including Pico and 7th St/Metro Center stations. The Expo Phase 1 project included improvements to the shared corridor, as well.

The project created several new grade separations. These include: a rebuilt overpass over I-110 (near Flower/Adams), a trench under Flower/Figueroa, and elevated sections crossing over La Brea and La Cienega Boulevards, Jefferson Boulevard/Ballona Creek, and Washington/National Boulevards.

The Flower St/Exposition Blvd trench and tunnel, a short below-grade section southeast of USC, is arguably the most complicated structure for the Expo Line. It is located immediately below the surface, at a depth of about 30 feet (9.1 m).

The Ballona Creek crossing is located at National/Jefferson in Culver City. Prior to the Expo Line, Ballona Creek was spanned by three bridges (from south to north): the eastbound National Blvd. bridge, the old Southern Pacific "Air Line" bridge, and the westbound National Blvd. bridge. The old south roadway bridge was demolished and replaced to handle both eastbound and westbound traffic. A new rail bridge for the Expo Line was constructed above the old rail bridge (which was not demolished), the new bridge also spans Jefferson Boulevard. The northern roadway bridge for National Boulevard was used for construction staging for the rail line project, but has not been removed. [18][19]

All new stations share a common design palette, but are differentiated by station art provided by local artists.

Budget and funding

The original project budget for Expo Phase 1 from December 2005 was $640.0 million (reflected in year-of-expenditure dollars) [3][20] This included the following:

Component Cost
Construction $313.3 million
Land acquisition $33.3 million
Vehicles (16 LRVs) $40.4 million
Indirect costs $79.9 million
Contingency $71.7 million
Escalation $96.2 million
Bikeway $5.0 million
Total: $640.0 million

Since the project's inception, the budget has increased several times, largely in response to inflation of material costs and to increases in the project scope:

  • $640.0 million, December 2005. Original budget.
  • $663.3 million, August 2007. Increase of $23.3 million, to cover changes to the Blue Line tie-in, grade crossing improvements, and the new USC/Expo Park station.[5]
  • $808.3 million, November 2007. Increase of $145 million, to cover increased costs for steel and concrete, increased land acquisition and relocation costs, higher energy costs.[21]
  • $862.3 million, November 2008. Increase of $54 million, to cover the permanent Venice/Robertson station and aerial structure. Funding came from Prop 1B funds.[22]
  • $898.9 million, July 2010. Increase of $36.6 million, to cover safety enhancements, including new work on Pico and Metro Center, new signaling, and the new Farmdale station.[23]
  • $927.4 million, December 2010. Increase of $28.5 million, to settle claims by contractor FCI/Fluor/Parsons.[24]
  • $930.6 million, March 2011. Increase of $3.2 million, to cover new provisions for inspection and testing.[25][26]

All funds for the project are from local and state sources. This was done to remove the need to wait for funds from the federal government and compete with other localities for those limited funds.


First set of tracks laid for the Metro Expo Line.
Expo Light Rail Line sign at Jefferson and La Cienega

In March 2006, Expo selected FCI/Fluor/Parsons as the general design-build contractor for Phase 1. FCI/Fluor/Parsons is a joint venture of FCI Constructors (a subsidiary of Flatiron Corporation), Fluor Corporation, and Parsons Transportation.[27][28]

An official groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on September 29, 2006.[29] Utility relocation began near USC on May 14, 2007. [30] Heavy construction started on July 17, 2007, to build the below-grade trench between Jefferson/Flower and Exposition/Pardee, south and east of USC.[31] The first tracks were laid on June 28, 2008, at the intersection of Exposition and Denker (see adjacent image).

Work on the Ballona Creek crossing began in July 2008. Demolition of the old road bridges, and construction of the new road bridge, was completed in about one year. [18][19]

In November 2008, the Expo staff gave a presentation on the storage and inspection facility to the Expo board.[32] The scope of the facility has since been reduced considerably: inspection facilities have been removed. The Authority hopes to have the storage facility completed by the end of 2011. The facility is not required to open the line.

In late 2010, negotiations with FFP stalled with respect to cost on remaining work at Farmdale station, Culver City station area, and the storage facility. In May 2011, the Authority selected BBII/BBRI, a joint venture of Balfour Beatty companies, to complete this work. This work is expected to cost $3.9 million. [33]

Anticipated completion

The construction project is delayed by at least fourteen months, due to the slowness of the design process, as well as unforeseen construction problems. The original goal set by Expo was to open the line to service in June or July 2010. However, due to several delays, completion is over a year late. As of May 2011, Expo expects to have substantial completion to La Cienega in August 2011, with revenue service to that station targeted for December 2011 at the earliest. Service to Venice/Robertson is anticipated in February 2012, at the earliest.[34]

Planned service

The Expo Corridor (Phases 1 and 2) will be served by the Metro Expo Line. There are no plans to use the route for any other lines.

According to the project's FEIR, 43,600 daily weekday boardings are expected on Phase 1 of the Expo Line.[3]

The Expo Line will initially use 23 overhauled Nippon Sharyo P865 vehicles, which will be transferred from the Metro Blue Line.[35] The Metro Gold Line will give up its Siemens P2000 vehicles to the Blue Line, and five Ansaldobreda P2550 vehicles will also be assigned to the Blue Line.


  1. ^ http://www.metro.net/projects/exposition/expoline_overview/
  2. ^ http://rail.buildexpo.org
  3. ^ a b c http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/exposition/pdf/2005_feis/Executive%20Summary.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.metro.net/board/minutes/2005/minutes_RBM_20051215.pdf
  5. ^ a b http://backup.buildexpo.org/images/agendas/2007/08_August/20070802EXPO6.A%20BASELINE%20MODIFICATION%20BUDGET.pdf
  6. ^ "Metro Board Agenda, 29 November 2007". http://metro.net/board/Agendas/2007/11_november/20071129ARBM.pdf. 
  7. ^ "Expo Board Presentation, Monthly Status Update, 6 December 2007". http://backup.buildexpo.org/images/PRESENTATIONS%2012.06.07%20Expo%20CA%20Board.pdf. 
  8. ^ "Foshay Middle School". http://foshaylc.org/. 
  9. ^ "CPUC Public Meeting Agenda, 20 December 2007". http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/agenda/docs/3205_results.htm. 
  10. ^ "Foshay Middle School". http://www.fixexpo.org/. 
  11. ^ "(no longer available)". http://lacitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/derailing_l_a/6704/. 
  12. ^ "PUC filing dated 22 October 2008". http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/PD/92649.PDF. 
  13. ^ Hymon, Steve (23 October 2008). "Judge throws a curve at Expo Line". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-roadsage23-2008oct23,0,4402513.story. 
  14. ^ "Breaking news: PUC judge deals blow to Expo Line plans". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2008/10/breaking-news-p.html. 
  15. ^ Hymon, Steve (21 February 2009). "Expo Line construction OKd near Foshay Learning Center and Dorsey High School". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/21/local/me-expo21. 
  16. ^ "CPUC decision, 18 December 2009". http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/EXP/111670.pdf. 
  17. ^ "CPUC, Amended Scoping Memo and Ruling, 21 December 2009". http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/RULC/111548.pdf. 
  18. ^ a b http://www.buildexpo.org/pdf_uploads/comm_gy0692qwfl.pdf
  19. ^ a b http://www.buildexpo.org/pdf_uploads/comm_fb0xf621r.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/exposition/images/01%29%20ExpoROD%202-27-06.pdf
  21. ^ http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2007/11_November/20071114P&PItem6.pdf
  22. ^ http://backup.buildexpo.org/images/agendas/2008%20Expo%20Executive%20Board%20Agendas-Presentations/6_November/6.b%20Project%20Budget.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2010/07_July/20100722RBMItem26.pdf
  24. ^ http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2010/12_december/20101209RBMItem6.pdf
  25. ^ http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2011/02_February/20110224RBMItem12.pdf
  26. ^ http://buildexpo.org/pdf_uploads/boar_0qfj11i0v.pdf
  27. ^ http://buildexpo.org/images/Items/2006/03_March/20060302ExpoRev.Item6.a.pdf
  28. ^ http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20060309005650/en/Flatiron-Construction-Subsidiary-FCI-Constructors-Wins-420M
  29. ^ http://friends4expo.org/groundbreakingpr.htm
  30. ^ http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/13764.html
  31. ^ http://www.buildexpo.org/pdf_uploads/comm_gy0692qwfl.pdf
  32. ^ http://backup.buildexpo.org/images/agendas/2008%20Expo%20Executive%20Board%20Agendas-Presentations/6_November/S&I%20Facility%20Update%2011-13-08.pdf
  33. ^ http://buildexpo.org/pdf_uploads/boar_czmfsif9jw.pdf
  34. ^ http://uscnews.usc.edu/university/light_rail_track_testing_to_begin.html
  35. ^ Rail Division Capacity Assessment Report

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