An example of light rail tracks. Photo via Pixabay
An example of light rail tracks. Photo via Pixabay

The Expo Line street crossings make accidents such as the one on Saturday inevitable, a USC civil engineering professor said.

Professor Najmedin Meshkati had issued warnings about these types of crashes in a study he wrote several years ago.

“Unfortunately I am not surprised,” he told the USC Daily Trojan. “If we don’t take decisive action, we will have another one and another one and another one.”

The Expo line street crossings have long been a contention at USC. He told the student newspaper Saturday that the grade crossings deserve new study by Metro and the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Metro Expo line was opened in 2012 and runs along city streets for nearly its entire length from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. It is now being extended to Santa Monica, also primarily along city streets and with overpasses only at a few crossings.

Trains resumed passing USC on Sunday, as a USC student continued to fight for his life from injuries caused when his car was crumpled into a metal ball as it was driven into the train’s path.

The train hit the Hyundai at a traffic signal between USC and the Museum of Natural History. Both were heading east, when the car made a left turn toward the USC gate and was hit by the electric light rail vehicle.

Witnesses said after the Hyundai made the turn, it became wedged between a pole and the train, which derailed across both lanes of eastbound Exposition Boulevard next to the landmark Exposition Park rose garden.

Left turns such as that are regulated by a red or green left turn arrow, and there are flashing alarms for approaching trains, which are supposed to get “train stop” signals if cars are turning across the grade crossing.

There was still no indication if it was a signal failure, or a failure of the driver or the train operator, that caused the wreck. A total of 21 people were hurt to varying degrees in the crash between a three-car light rail train and a Hyundai Sonata, reportedly driven by a male USC student.

His name was not released by Los Angeles police, who are handling the investigation.

Staff and wire reports

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