Expo Phase 1 (in blue) opens this weekend. Phase 2? Who knows.

This weekend, the long awaited Expo Light Rail Line will finally open in Los Angeles, connecting the traffic-choked Westside with the rest of the city's rail network, more than two decades after the region's first modern rail line opened.  The relatively short light rail line (8.6 miles, 12 stations) took an absurdly long amount of time to build.  To put it in human terms, my wife and I attended the groundbreaking ceremony when she was three months pregnant with our first child.  That same child just celebrated his fifth birthday last week.  All this for a construction process that utilized an existing right-of-way and required no new tunneling.

Why did construction take so long? Two answers: lack of government coordination and citizen lawsuits (a third answer of poor construction oversight could arguably apply to most large public works projects these days). The lack of government coordination hindered the construction authority building Expo, which had to work with the local utility on relocating power lines, the California Department of Transportation on a rail bridge over the freeway, and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on all intersection crossings. For a variety of reasons, this process didn't always go smoothly, resulting in project delays and additional expenses. Read more of this post