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Expo Line's Culver City service begins Wednesday

Not since the Red Car trolleys has Los Angeles' Westside had rail service. Farmdale station will also open Wednesday.

June 19, 2012|By Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times
  • Metro contractor Alfred Lopez of California Neon Products spruces up artwork and signage at the Expo Line's Culver City station in advance of its official opening.
Metro contractor Alfred Lopez of California Neon Products spruces up artwork… (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles…)

The $930-million light rail Expo Line will finally reach into Culver City on Wednesday, marking the first time rail service will serve the traffic-choked Westside since the last days of the Red Car trolleys in the mid-1900s.

Transportation officials will open the Culver City station — near Washington and National boulevards — beginning about noon after a celebration with elected leaders.

Officials opened most of the first phase of the line in late April, allowing commuters to travel 7.9 miles between downtown Los Angeles and the eastern edge of Culver City in about half an hour.

360-degree virtual tour: Expo Line stations

But they did not open two stations along the line: Culver City and Farmdale, which officials said needed extra work because they were added further along in the project. The Farmdale stop will also open Wednesday.

The extension to Culver City is about 0.7 miles from the previous stop at La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards.

Crews are currently working on the second phase of the line, which will shoot 6.6 miles west into downtown Santa Monica. That section is expected to open by 2016, at a cost of $1.5 billion.

The Expo Line will eventually link to a new north-south line being built along Crenshaw Boulevard. And it would parallel the long-delayed "subway to the sea" that officials are planning to build along Wilshire Boulevard to the Westwood area.

The subway extension is seen as a potential game-changer for Westside mass transit because it would run beneath one of the nation's busiest boulevards and through some of the area's most iconic neighborhoods, including Hancock Park, the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood.

But officials also expect that the Expo Line will be heavily used, particularly once it gets to Santa Monica and offers a train ride from downtown to the beach.

"I'm real anxious to see it opened all the way to Culver City. That's going to open up huge opportunities for Culver City residents and the businesses in the area as well," said Rick Thorpe, head of the construction authority in charge of building the first phase of the line. "We'll see a lot more ridership pick up with the opening of that."

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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