Sneak peek of new Metro Expo Line extension into Santa Monica

CULVER CITY, Calif. (KABC) -- The new Metro Expo Line extension that runs from Culver City to Santa Monica is set to open in a couple of weeks, and Eyewitness News got a sneak peek of the project.

We were among the first ever allowed to ride through phase two, which adds 6.6 miles and seven new stations west of Culver City that take passengers to Santa Monica. In other words, riders can go from downtown Los Angeles to the beach in about 45 minutes.

Richard Thorpe, of the Exposition Construction Authority, is in charge of the team that built the extension and said everything is working as planned.

The $1.5 billion expansion is Metro's latest effort to ease traffic congestion along the 10 Freeway. Though this is just a test run, the line officially opens on Friday, May 20.

"This is going to give people an alternative to get out of their cars and use public transit to get where they need to go," said Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesperson.

It will be the first time a passenger rail has taken people to L.A.'s far Westside since street cars stopped going to Santa Monica in 1953.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke at the event and said he was excited to bring back what was once a popular way to commute.

"To do what my grandparents used to do, which was get on the red car and go to the ocean," he said.

The portion of the Expo Line was funded largely by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax measure approved by L.A. County voters in 2008.

"There's no doubt in my mind this will be one of the most well-traveled, well-used portions of the Metro system," said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "It's a good thing."

Officials said passengers will be able to ride the train for free on the first two days of opening weekend.
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