Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It was a tough day Thursday for testing Metro trains on the new westside extension of the Expo Line in Santa Monica.

While trains are undergoing months of testing prior to the expected spring launch of the extended service, scores of angry drivers were stuck behind train crossing gates in the morning for almost a half hour.

And then a couple hours later, a truck collided with a Metro train that was being tested on the same westside extension route of the Expo Line.

The truck driver may have sustained minor injuries in the collision that happened shortly after noon near Colorado Avenue and Seventh Street, Ramon Montenegro of the sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau said.

No passengers were aboard the train, which was being operated as part of the testing process, Montenegro said.

The truck driver, who may have turned against a red signal, was examined at the scene for possible minor injuries, Montenegro said.

The train tests also undoubtedly irritated hundreds of drivers earlier in the day when their vehicles were trapped behind train crossing gates for almost a half hour.

Metro officials acknowledged testing was continuing in advance of the scheduled opening of the line between Culver City and Santa Monica this spring, but they said they were unaware of any specific problems.

Shortly after 10 a.m., guard gates were lowered, warning bells sounded and lights began flashing as vehicle traffic on the two northbound lanes of 26th Street just south of Olympic Boulevard came to a halt.

Witnesses said that for about 20 minutes, drivers saw no evidence of trains coming in either direction. A single train then came by heading west, and a few minutes later, that train — followed by another — returned eastbound.

At least one driver got out of his vehicle and walked to the tracks to ask a law enforcement officer what was happening.

By about 10:30 a.m. the gates rose, the bells stopped and the lights went off, as vehicles backed up for blocks started moving. The blocked road is just west of the Expo Line’s Bergamot Station.

While traffic was jammed in the vicinity of the noon truck-train collision, delays were not as long as in the earlier 26th Street incident. Accident-related traffic delays were cleared by mid-afternoon.

In addition to the train testing delays on 26th Street, traffic in the area along northbound Cloverfield Boulevard just south of the train backup had already been jammed as the entrance to the eastbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway was shut down Thursday morning for roadway work.

—City News Service

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