Santa Moncians can expect to see the Expo train physically running through town in the coming months.

Testing has begun along the newly installed Expo tracks with a specially designed truck towing a rail car. The initial “clearance” test checks for hazards that could impede the train and the next phase will include a live train moving along the tracks under its own power.

Residents can expect to see trains moving into Santa Monica over the next couple of months and officials said the testing is designed to familiarize the public with the new service, allow outside agencies to work with the trains before it opens and to train employees on the new tracks. Testing could occur from 4:30 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. seven days a week.

Expo officials updated the Santa Monica community on the projects at a recent community meeting. Phase 2 of the Expo expansion includes 6.6 miles of track from Culver City to Santa Monica. The project includes seven new stations and is expected to carry 64,000 daily riders by 2030. Officials said the estimated time from Santa Monica to Downtown L.A. will be 46 minutes.

The $1.5 billion project is about 90 percent complete. According to the information presented, all seven bridges are complete, track installation is complete, station construction is 85 percent complete, roadway improvements are underway with an expectation of completion this summer to coincide with the installation of the overhead catenary system.

Locals can expect construction activities to continue through September with traffic signal, street light and train control installation, additional street improvements, landscaping and electrical work.

Ongoing work at the stations includes installation of pedestrian crossings, ramps, guardrails, gate posts, permanent signs, bike racks/lockers, furnishings and landscaping. Construction is also ingoing for a parking lot at the 17th Street station.

Work will continue this summer on the adjacent bikeway including light poles, grading, paving and electrical work.

According to the presentation, Rail Safety Ambassadors will be available to help residents. The retired Metro bus and rail operators will be assigned to various rail crossings to assist pedestrians with safe passage across train tracks and will meet weekly with Metro to report observations. There will also be Metro Sheriffs for general safety oversight during train testing, traffic enforcement along the rail right-of-way, issue warnings to pedestrians and for fare enforcement on the station platforms.

Residents were also presented with updated images of the expo route to clarify new street signs, traffic patterns and warning lights.

For more information on the project, visit

Photo by Nicholas Salazar: Crews are working on the stretch of Expo light rail between Culver City and Santa Monica.

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Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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