Expo Line crossing dispute looks to be moving toward a resolution

After months of negotiations, it appears a dispute over a crossing on Phase 1 of the Expo Line light rail project is on the verge of being resolved. If so, a new station would be added at Farmdale Avenue and Exposition Boulevard, adjacent to Dorsey High School.

A state administrative law judge issued an an interim ruling on Monday that would certify an addendum to the environmental document of the project that is used by the Commission and other responsible agencies. The addendum assesses and analyzes the impacts of modifying the Expo Light Rail project with a passenger station at Farmdale Ave.

So what’s next? First, the California Public Utilities Commission must approve of the judge’s interim decision — a vote that is scheduled for April. That would allow the Construction Authority to enter into a formal settlement agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District, paving the way for final approval of the street crossing by the PUC.

Yes, that’s really how government works. In English, the judge’s interim decision should pave the way for the Expo Line to be finished to Culver City, although Construction Authority officials do not yet have a date for the opening. There will now be 12 stations on the 8.6-mile line.

The Expo Line was originally designed to go past Dorsey High at street level without a stop. But community activists and the Los Angeles Unified School District protested, saying a street-level crossing would endanger students who must cross the tracks while walking to and from school. The California Public Utilities Commission also refused to approve the original design and asked the Expo Line Construction Authority to consider other options, including a pedestrian bridge over the tracks with Farmdale Avenue closed to traffic.

But no one was exactly thrilled with the idea of the closure or of funneling students into stairs and a bridge up-and-over the train tracks. The Construction Authority and the LAUSD then negotiated the station solution. The idea behind the station is that the eastbound platform will be west of Farmdale and the westbound platform east of Farmdale — meaning trains will have to come to a full stop before crossing Farmdale.

Here’s a link to coverage by Los Angeles Streetsblog, which posted earlier today on the ruling.

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