Launching of new Westside rail system delayed

LOS ANGELES Transit officials are weighing two options: having the Westside's Metro Expo Line stretch around 5.5 miles from downtown Los Angeles to Crenshaw Boulevard, or letting it run about two miles farther west to La Cienega Boulevard.

The first phase of the line was supposed to be whisking commuters between /*Culver City*/ and /*downtown Los Angeles*/ by last summer, but delays have pushed the opening of the first phase of the rail line to next summer, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Even when that phase is completed, only part of the line will be open and trains won't reach the Westside.

The Expo Line is now projected to cost $900 million, which is up from $640 million.

Officials said costs have risen because of design changes, surging construction expenses and safety enhancements. Sometime in 2012, the line is expected to reach Culver City, where an elevated station is being built at the terminus.

The Expo Line's second phase, estimated to cost about $1.5 billion, will take the line from Culver City to Santa Monica. Major construction will begin in about a year and half, with completion scheduled in 2015.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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