DOWNTOWN L.A. — Officials with the Exposition Construction Authority on Thursday got the green light from its board of directors to continue pursuing Colorado Avenue as the route the light rail will take through Santa Monica.

The authority will now spend the next several months responding to the roughly 3,000 pieces of communications it received during the draft environmental impact report’s public comment period, which ended March 27.

“We’re going to be responding to comments which might entail contacting people to get clarification on their comments or discuss with them what it is our response would be,” Monica Born, the project director for Expo phase two, said.

The report examined four different alternative routes the light rail would travel during phase two of the project — Culver City to Santa Monica. The options include two routes that would travel along the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s right-of-way, which hits various Los Angeles streets before branching off to either Colorado Avenue or Olympic Boulevard, taking it to the terminal at Fourth Street and Colorado in Santa Monica. The second set of options would place the route on Venice Boulevard to Sepulveda Boulevard before branching off to either Colorado or Olympic.

The board took its staff’s suggestion and asked that the right-of-way and Colorado alignment be pursued. The City Council also endorsed the Colorado route last month.

The Colorado alignment would remove one travel lane in each direction and eliminate parking on one side, but cost about $50 million less than Olympic, which would require the rail go above grade with an elevated station at the current Sears automotive site Downtown.

The route will not be finalized until the board approves the EIR later this year.

Approximately 50 people spoke during the public hearing at the board meeting, about 80 percent of whom were in favor of the staff’s proposal.

The groups that have endorsed the Colorado alignment include Crossroads School, which was concerned with student safety, and the Santa Monica Treesavers, which wanted the coral trees along the Olympic median to stay in place.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky also directed the authority to identify an appropriate location for the rail maintenance yard, which is currently proposed for the Verizon site on Exposition Boulevard, near homes in the Pico Neighborhood.

The staff was further asked to address the community’s concerns with the grade crossings at Westwood Boulevard, Overland Avenue, Centinela Avenue and Barrington Avenue.

City Hall is expected to hire a real estate consultant to identify alternative rail yard prospects within phase two. The deadline for consultants to submit bids is Monday.

melodyh@smdp.com

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