In a move allowing the planned second phase of the Metro Exposition Line light rail to advance, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Feb. 22 dismissed a community group’s challenges to the project’s environmental impact report.

In his ruling, Judge Thomas McKnew decided to drop the Neighbors for Smart Rail group’s Petition for Writ of Mandate which challenged the final EIR and proposed mitigation measures for Expo Phase II, slated to extend from Culver City to Santa Monica. The decision follows a tentative ruling issued in December.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority representatives believe the court’s ruling confirms the Phase II project’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). They noted that the alternative selected through the environmental review process is the result of many meetings and discussions with communities and key stakeholders, and reflects the highest standards for design, public safety and environmental protection.

Legal challenges to the project by Neighbors for Smart Rail included standards for conducting environmental review of the project’s impacts; baseline data used in projecting future conditions surrounding the impacts; and impacts of traffic, parking, noise, air quality and other proposed corridor developments. The group additionally challenged the selection of alternatives for study in the FEIR and the recirculation of the draft environmental impact report for review.

Expo Authority representatives said they look forward to starting the design-build process on Phase II, which the agency believes is essential to the realization of the entire project connecting downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. According to Metro officials, the Expo Line will bring greater mobility to the region by connecting the Westside to the region’s existing rail network.

Phase I of the Expo Line, between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, is 86 percent complete and expected to partially open this fall.