A construction project that officials hope will change the gridlock that has defined commuting on the Westside broke ground Monday.
Phase 2 of the Expo Line project will extend the light rail line from Culver City.
The first phase of the project is scheduled to open later this year. The line is expected to be completed in 2015, but delays are possible.
"We had a vision for what Los Angeles could be, not what it has been," said Assemblyman Mike Feuer. "Not a place known for gridlock, but a place that's on the move."
The 6.6-mile extension will run along Exposition Boulevard.
"It's about time," said Daniel Scott Johnson, who rides his bike to work. "We need these lines in place. It's kind of embarrassing, compared to Europe. They come here, they stay downtown and they're stuck. We need to get our act together."
First phase construction began in 2006 at a cost of $932 million. The original budget for the downtown LA-to-Culver City line was $640 million.
Metro is running test trains and system checks along the completed stretch. In April, trains moved along the line for the first time in more than 20 years. Train service along the route first began in the late-1800s when the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad laid tracks to a proposed seaport at Santa Monica.
Ownership of the tracks passed to Pacific Electric and then to Southern Pacific, which operated freight service on them to Santa Monica until 1989. The tracks were abandoned and then purchased by Metro.
"We've come a long way," said Santa Monica City Councilmember Pam O’Connor. "It's taken a lot of work, 20 years to get here."
A start date for service along the completed stretch of Phase 1 has not been set.
Ten new stations are planned from downtown LA's 7th Street-Metro Center station to the intersection of Venice and Robertson boulevards in Culver City. The new stations include:
- 23rd St.
- Expo Park/USC
- Expo/La Brea
- La Cienega/Jefferson
- Culver City
Phase two has a $1.5 billion budget.