Culver City Light Rail Countdown at Less Than 1100 Days, Expo ReportsBy Ari L. Noonan @ 3:00 AM July 18, 2007
Ground Getting Company
Peculiarly shaped, exotic-looking equipment is being sunk into the ground at various waystations in the 8.6 miles between the anticipated Washington/National station the westward terminus and 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles, the official starting point.
Even in last nights bare-bones setting, the projected launch date roughly three years from today, 1,095 days away felt closer for listeners.
That intended feeling of coziness and intimacy was enhanced by a wall-lined row of technicolor sketches and actual photos.
But the downbeat dimension of what was billed as a West End Community Meeting more about that locution momentarily was inescapable.
At the appointed hour of 6:30, only four persons were in the audience, promptly draining the enthusiasm of the presenters.
No Need for Assistance
The master of ceremonies experimented with a microphone. But when his booming tones bounced somewhere south of the Vets Auditorium across the street, given the emptiness of the large, square room, he junked the enhancement as unnecessary.
Although the turnout swelled to a little more than two dozen, the audience was so small the Expo Construction Authority could have taken numbers and telephoned each resident privately.
Cool on the Inside
It was not as if love bloomed between speakers and listeners, either.
Publicist Greg Starosky, Construction Manager Mark Van Gessel and designer Roland Genick made it plain they were at the Senior Center to lecture not to dialogue with strongly curious, polite and disappointed members of the audience.
The gentlemen from the Expo Construction Authority declined to answer questions, not even uncomplicated ones.
No Questions, Please
Inquiries, audience members were told, were to be written out.
Breaths were not to be held awaiting responses.
The crowd was told somebody in the vast world of light rail network general information would reply to all.
Scheduled for two hours, the program was shaved to 33 sharply clipped minutes. They could have left their car engines running.
The dominant tone of the unexcited speakers was obligatory.
Enthusiasm was economized down into a couple of sentences.
Perhaps the gentlemen from the Expo Construction Authority are feeling empowered by playing roles in the creation of a vast new transportation system stretching across one of the major cities of the world.
A New Name
They have been instructed to dump the historic Westside designation for this section of Los Angeles County.
Instead, their label of choice when discussing the light rail is the West End, a la London.
As a side note, all terminal references for Culver City mentioned only Washington/National, the elevated station, not the temporary ground-level Wesley Street station that was being touted two and three years ago.
Following are some handy, shirt-pocket facts that can be tucked away until the day of transportation liberation arrives in less than 1100 days.
From downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, there are 10 stations 7th Street/Metro Center, Pico, 23rd Street/Flower, Jefferson/Flower, USC/Vermont/Exposition, Western/Exposition, Crenshaw/Exposition, La Brea/Exposition, La Cienega/Exposition and Washington/National.
Eight of the stations are new. The other two are shared with the Metro Blue line. 7th Street and Pico are shared wth the Metro Blue line.
The path to Culver City is being referred to as the West End corridor.
Estimated travel time from Culver City to downtown, 30 minutes.
With speeds regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, the light rail will travel between 35 and 55 miles an hour.
For an unexplained reason, the Expo speakers said daily light rail ridership should hit 42,000 by 2025. There is a blank space for the opening 15 years.