Expo Link leg named after SMC

Santa Monica College is set to be a highlight of the upcoming extension of the Metro Expo Line that will connect downtown Los Angeles with Santa Monica by light rail.

Metro Expo Line recently all but approved a renaming of the upcoming 17th Street and Colorado Avenue station to 17th/Santa Monica College, according to Don Girard, senior director of government relations and institutional communications at SMC.

“This is an important development because it will make clear to prospective students that, yes, Santa Monica College is readily accessible by public transportation,” said Genevieve Bertone, director of sustainability at SMC.

“Transportation can be a hindrance for many students, and the new line will provide greater access to students from all over LA County,” Bertone said.

The final extension of the Expo Line, set for completion in 2016, will run west along Exposition Boulevard to Olympic Boulevard, then along Olympic for a short stretch just past Cloverfield Boulevard, making its final stretch towards downtown LA, along Colorado Avenue, according to the maps feature on the Metro website. There will be stops at 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard, 17th Street and Colorado Avenue, and 4th Street and Colorado Avenue.

The planned SMC station is 0.6 miles northwest of campus — about a 12-minute walk or a four-minute bike ride — on 17th Street, south of Colorado Avenue.

According to Girard, efforts are underway to facilitate biking and improve the walkability along 17th Street.

“We are working on improvements to the street for a strong connection from the station to campus,” Girard said.

He added that enhancements will include more street lights for safer nighttime pedestrian traffic, and a possible extension of the bike lane that currently ends at Michigan Avenue.

“We are also adding extra facilities for bikes at the SMC station,” Girard said.

The college is in negotiations with the City of Santa Monica to include a bicycle-sharing kiosk at the station. Students who sign up will be able to pick up and drop off bicycles at kiosks located around the city, including on multiple campuses.

For students who prefer not to walk or ride bicycles, there are plans for a free shuttle connecting the SMC station to the main campus.

The Expo Line extension to Santa Monica from its current end-of-the-line stop in Culver City is an integral component of SMC’s efforts to provide and encourage multiple modes of transportation to campus, while reducing the college’s carbon footprint, Bertone said.

“It is a critical piece in trying to solve the transportation puzzle to and from the college," she said. "The more people that can take public transportation, the better."

Two SMC students were instrumental in renaming the 17th Street station. Steven Johnson, Associated Students director of sustainability, and Alex Martinez, club president of campus group EcoAction, spoke at a Metro board meeting in February in support of the name change.

The final decision on the station name will be made on April 25 by the Metro Transit Authority.

NewsJames HustaceComment