According to this article (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-westsiderail5-2010feb05,0,631333.story), L.A. transportation officials have approved a plan for a train from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica along the old Exposition right-of-way -- including the plan for at-grade east-to-west crossings of Overland, Westwood and Sepulveda just south of Pico. You can tell where the Times stands on the plan, too -- if not from the reporting in the article (which gives short shrift to those in the neighborhood who complained at Thursday's hearing about the at-grade crossings), then from this editorial (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-expo4-2010feb04,0,2918188.story) which castigates Westside homeowners as a bunch of whiners for objecting to the at-grade crossings.
Well, I'm one of those Westside homeowners; and the planned train route is half a block south of my house. Having the train as a neighbor may be unavoidable. It makes more sense for the train to run up near Olympic, where it would be readily accessible from Century City; or up at Wilshire, where it would serve UCLA students, high-rise workers, and those who live along the Wilshire corridor. But I can understand that buying up land there would be more expensive than running the train along an existing right-of-way. (Of course, they're planning a subway over there . . . .)
But I cannot agree that grade separations at Overland, Westwood and Sepulveda would be, in the words of the Times, "unnecessary additional grade separations that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and make the project financially unfeasible." Those three streets are major arterials -- particularly Sepulveda, which runs from the Valley to the South Bay -- and they are incredibly busy during weekdays. Rail officials intend to run trains across those streets, at grade, at a rate of 24 trains per hour during the peak times. (See http://www.buildexpo.org/phase2/Expo%20Phase%202%20Grade%20Crossing%20Determinations%20PRESENTATION%206.9.08.pdf)
And alas, the trains will not lessen the traffic flow on those streets. Those are north-south streets. The trains will run east-west.
Oh, and they want to put in two stations in my neighborhood -- one at Westwood and one at Sepulveda. Less than half a mile apart.
Some more descriptions of the issues can be found at http://smartrail.blogspot.com/
Of course, this is not the end of it. There will be administrative appeals, and lawsuits. I hope that at some point, someone will see the folly of stopping a busy street multiple times an hour to let a train through, when in fact the trains could run under those streets.
I probably can't avoid having the train as a neighbor. I can only hope that it acts like a good neighbor.