The Los Angeles Times ran an opinion piece earlier this week criticizing the Westside Subway Extension for proposing to demolish buildings housing the A+D architecture museum and the Edward Cella Art+Architecture and Steve Turner Contemporary galleries. The land would be used as one of two construction staging areas for the Wilshire/Fairfax station.
On Wednesday, Metro CEO Art Leahy issued this response:
There are good reasons why you can’t stage construction for the Purple Line subway extension at “nearby sites” that are two blocks away from the Wilshire/Fairfax station.
Construction must be staged immediately adjacent to the station itself so crews can dig down and feed equipment into the station box. This allows most of the construction to be performed off-street, sparing the public from even bigger traffic nightmares on Wilshire Boulevard.
Metro is required by law to provide just compensation for properties it must acquire for construction. Building the subway in this incredibly dense urban environment is certainly not easy. Doing so without incurring any impacts to existing properties is simply unrealistic.
Once built, this critically needed subway line will have tremendous benefits for Museum Row, the Wilshire Corridor and entire L.A. region.
Some more background: Metro needs two construction staging areas at most of the proposed seven stations to have enough space to do the work. It also makes construction logistically easier and faster with two ways to get equipment in and dirt out of the underground station box. At Fairfax, there will likely be the additional challenge of dealing with gassy soils and preserving fossils (the area is just west of the La Brea tarpits).
For more information about planned construction of the Westside Subway Extension, please see Chapter 2 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report, which discusses station locations, construction areas and station entrances. In addition, this construction fact sheet explains how the stations will be built.