A new Los Angeles councilman and the mayor of Santa Monica were appointed Thursday to lead a panel that oversees the second phase of the $1.5 billion Expo Rail Line project.
Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor was named the chairwoman of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority board, and Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin will serve as the body's vice chairman. O'Connor previously held the vice chairman seat and is taking over for County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
The first phase of the project connecting downtown Los Angeles and
Culver City opened in April 2012, and the panel is overseeing the second phase,
now under construction, that would extend the line 6.6 miles further west to
Santa Monica, through the Westside.
The line is scheduled to be competed in 2015, with Metro estimating they will begin operating the line in 2016.
Bonin, who first began serving on the panel last year as Councilman Bill
Rosendahl's alternative, said the Expo Line -- which runs parallel to east-
west surface streets and the 10 Freeway -- will be "an opportunity to combat
the gridlock that plagues neighborhoods on the Westside."
The vote comes a week after Bonin was named head of the City Council's Transportation Committee. Bonin has stated his intention to make transportation one of his top priorities and he also represents Los Angeles International Airport, and serves on the council committee overseeing the airport.
"We need to leave our car culture in the past and move into the future," Bonin said. "We need livable communities and sustainable neighborhoods - and that requires more transit options."
Once completed, the 15.2-mile line would take riders from downtown to Santa Monica in 46 minutes, according to the construction authority's website. The line is projected to serve about 64,000 passengers a day by 2030.
- City News Service contributed to this report.