Metro Board of Directors approves route for Westside Subway Extension’s second and third phase, including Century City station on Constellation

 

The final route and station locations of the second and third phase of the Westside Subway Extension were approved by the Metro Board of Directors on Thursday by a vote of seven to two. Board Members Mike Antonovich and John Fasana voted against the route.

The approval includes, most notably, a station location in Century City at the intersection of Constellation Boulevard and the Avenue of Stars to avoid building a station and tunnel in active earthquake fault zones under Santa Monica Boulevard. Metro’s experts testified that building a station or tunnels under Santa Monica Boulevard would be unsafe.

The Constellation station will require tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. That is opposed by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

In testimony to the Metro Board, Beverly Hills city and school officials on Thursday both asked the Board to delay making a decision on tunneling under the school and school officials again threatened state and federal litigation.

Officials from Beverly Hills also alleged that the earthquake faults are not active. “You will not succeed and we will stop you at every turn,” said Beverly Hills Unified School District Board Member Lisa Korbatov.

Metro staff and other experts remain unswayed by Beverly Hills’ arguments. “The Santa Monica Fault is an active fault and there’s no extra evidence that is going to come in that is going to change that,” said Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who reviewed the project. She was not paid by Metro.

In response to a hearing last week requested by the city of Beverly Hills, the Metro Board in a separate action voted to adopt the findings regarding the reasonableness of the Constellation station and the related subway tunnels beneath Beverly Hills High School.

The findings, posted here, reaffirmed Metro’s previous position that tunneling can be done safely under the high school, among other things. The vote was 8 to 2, with the no votes from Directors Antonovich and Fasana. A motion by Antonovich for an additional study on the Santa Monica Fault failed on an 8 to 2 vote, with only Antonovich and Fasana voting for it.

In the past two years, Beverly Hills officials have alleged: that the subway tunnels would trigger underground gas explosions beneath the school; Metro moved the station to Constellation to benefit a politically-connected developer in Century City, and; subway tunnels would interfere with school operations and would hinder the possible future development of an underground parking garage at the school.

Metro staff, experts and consultants strongly disagree, saying: there are lower gas levels under the school than in other parts of Los Angeles, including downtown L.A., where there are existing subway tunnels; that ridership would be higher at the Constellation station than a station along Santa Monica Boulevard, and; that noise and vibrations under the school would be within legal limits, have no adverse impacts and that the tunnels, which would be at least 50 feet under the school, would still allow for a three- to four-story underground garage or other structure.

Beverly Hills also submitted three alternative routes to a Constellation station last week that bypassed tunneling under the high school.

Metro staff said they reviewed the three routes and determined they would require much deeper tunnels to avoid buildings and would greatly increase the cost of the project and impact residential properties west of Century City. Staff also said that the routes proposed by Beverly Hills has tighter turns that would require slower train speeds.

Supervisor and Board Vice Chair Antonovich likened Metro’s seismic experts Dr. James Dolan and Lucy Jones to “trained seals,” saying their background in seismology precluded them from drawing conclusions on the geology of the area and the engineering of the project.

Metro CEO Art Leahy disagreed and stood by the agency’s conclusions. Dr. Jones testified that she was not being paid by Metro and reviewed the project under her role as a seismologist with the federal U.S. Geological Survey. Dr. Dolan, a professor of earth sciences at USC, testified that even after he began his role as a consultant with Metro, Beverly Hills city and school district officials contacted him about possibly working for them.

The Westwood/UCLA station will be located at the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards. The Westwood/VA station will be on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, with an entrance just east of Bonsall Avenue, allowing for a very short walk from the station to the entrance of the VA Hospital.

The Metro Board in April had voted to certify the Final Environmental Impact/Statement Report for the project, which will extend the current Purple Line subway from Western Avenue for nine miles to Westwood. The first segment between Western and La Cienega Boulevard is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

The Board in April delayed selecting a route for the second and third phases of the project to accommodate a request for a hearing about the Century City station location by the city of Beverly Hills.

 

47 replies

  1. “Staff also said that the routes proposed by Metro staff have tighter turns that would require slower train speeds.”

    Don’t you mean the routes proposed by Beverly Hills require tighter turns and slower speeds?

    • Yes. The original version included that error and has been fixed. The routes were proposed by Beverly Hills.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Awesome. Now build this sucker and let’s all get on with our lives. As soon as this line is extended Beverly Hills will wonder how they ever lived without it. The NIMBYs can now go find something more constructive to with their time.

  3. 2012 to 2020 to build and open the first segment seems too long. The Allied forces won World War II in less than four years. If the traffic problem is so severe, which I agree that it is, all efforts should be made to work round the clock and pull out all the stops to get the extension to La Cienga opened and operational much faster.

  4. Steve, if Beverly Hills sues, will this project fall under that new law that AEG got passed to limit appeals on approved large projects to 175 days?

  5. If a lawsuit happens, legal fees and any reparations paid will get passed along to each and everyone of your pocket courtesy of your tax dollars. Either that or higher fares in order to make up for the overly inflated cost of construction, or more service cuts to redirect the funds available to build this project.

    • Hi Steve;

      I do not believe the subway is within the purview of that bill. One reason: the planning was already well underway for the subway at the time the bill went through the Legislature.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. This is such great news. I was walking through Beverly Hills yesterday and more than half the houses had the pretentious, NIMBY, “No on Subway under BHHS”. I was a bit discouraged thinking, “Oh man, we’re going to have to go around these guys”. Open your mind, broaden your horizons. If people want to get to where you live, trust me, it’s not too much harder than just catching a train. At least automobile traffic should decrease, as well as pollution.

  7. Steve White, another factor is this is a federally funded project and therefore must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. The Padilla bill doesn’t expedite the federal clearance process.

  8. Get Ready Metro – we have LOTS of money and free time and are going to sue the pants off you. There is no way a subway is going under our sacred high school – anywhere else in the world, fine. But NOT Beverly Hills. Get ready to waste millions fighting us!!

  9. @Angry Beverly Hills Mom

    ABHM, the City of BH is within LA County. The millions that “Metro is going to waste” fighting you is essentially also your tax dollars. Basically, it’s like spending millions to get back millions with very little net value of return. It makes no sense financially.

    IMO, you’re better off using that millions in legal war chest rather, to buy shares of Metro and work from within as a shareholder instead of a legal battle. That way you have a direct say in what’s bothering you instead of “just another taxpayer.”

  10. 2020 WITHOUT the 30/10 plan going through right? And if it did the whole this is supposed to be done by 2022? Just wondering because I get so mixed up these dates.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Lawrence;

      The current Measure R schedule has the first segment to La Cienega being completed in 2020, the second phase to Century City in 2026 and the third phase to Westwood in 2036. The 30/10 plan (also known as America Fast Forward) proposes to accelerate the construction of all three segments so that they are finished in about a decade — i.e. 2022.

      As you may also know, Metro staff have proposed asking voters to extend Measure R. Such an extension could also serve to accelerate the subway project. This staff report has more information about that. At this hour, it may also help you achieve sleep unless transportation funding policy is like caffeine for you! 🙂

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. @Angry Beverly Hills Mom:

    The subway costs nearly $5 Billion. That’s $5,000,000,000 dollars. You think a couple of million in legal costs means anything?

    Good luck in a court based on facts instead of fears. This isn’t going to be a jury trial.

  12. @Angry Beverly Hills Mom

    I pity you. Your high school is no more sacred than any other place in Los Angeles. (I feel qualified to make this statement because I grew up in Beverly Hills.) The science all demonstrates that there is no danger in tunneling beneath it. I’m sad for the rest of our city that we Angelenos have to endure your anger-fueled threats and myopic self-indulgent desire to waste our time and resources. You could choose to be grateful for your economic position in life and dedicate your ‘LOTS’ of free time and money to things that really matter — charity for the needy, food for the hungry, or education for the disenfranchised. Instead, you squander your good fortune on a losing battle and drain our public resources in the process. How sad for you and how tragic for our communities. The Metro board was correct in standing by a decision that will overwhelmingly benefit the greater population of Los Angeles County. I hope you awaken to the realization that Beverly Hills is a bubble and, one day, you might venture toward the realization that Los Angeles is a county of great diversity and it has needs that are far greater (and more important) than you or even than any one small community within it.

    • Hey Readers;

      I just want to remind everyone that this is a moderated comment board and that we do have a comments policy! I know that the subway issue has been a heated one and I’m glad to post divergent views. Please keep the conversation civil. I also want to remind everyone that Beverly Hills’ residents — like many others here — pay the taxes that help fund Metro. That gives them every right to express their views about how that money should be spent.

      As for our comment policy, here it is:

      Comments policy

      We want to hear what you have to say about transportation in Los Angeles County and we encourage a thoughtful, civil and entertaining discussion by readers on our comment board. It’s fine to disagree with our posts and other readers, but we will insist on civility. Here are the rules:

      • All comments will be approved by Metro before they’re posted. We’ll do so during business hours on most weekdays.

      •No profanity, personal attacks, obscenities or pornographic material will be allowed. Nor will we tolerate harassment of readers and Source writers, impersonation, intimidation or abuse. And no advertisements.

      • As is the case with Metro’s Facebook comment policy, we ask that comments stay on topic and be brief. We may choose to limit the number of times any one person can comment per Source post.

      • We will not post comments with false or unsubstantiated allegations or material that we believe is inaccurate or false. Nor will we post comments that we believe could compromise public safety or Metro operations.

      • The comments board may be a representative sample of comments we receive. We don’t want the comments board to be the same few people dominating the conversation.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  13. @ Joshua S.: Well said!!!
    I couldn’t have said it better, and am readily adding my voice to your comment.

  14. It is encouraging to read new plans for the future. I realize this process takes years to organize, but as someone who has used public transit as my only means of transportation for the last 9 years, I wonder if the direction we are going is the most beneficial. Yes, Los Angeles has a lot of work to catch up with all the other big cities in the world, but it seems to me that our priority should be to begin service where the highest automobile traffic is located.

    In my case, I live in Pasadena and commuted to Warner Brothers in Burbank for 9 years until I was laid off last year. To do that I had to take 2 trains and a bus to get there. What takes only 15 minutes by car, is anywhere from 75-120 minutes via the Gold Line, Red Line and a bus. If we can lay tracks in the middle of the 210 in Pasadena, why is it that there is no plans to lay tracks all the way out to Woodland Hills and beyond in the middle of the 101 and 134? Or why can we not do the same all the way up and down the 405 also?

    Of course this takes money and time, but instead of beginning this process of making L.A. transportation-friendly, we installed the Blue Line going down to Long Beach. Why? Probably because you wanted to use existing tracks. So we have service, but is it where we need it most?

    By the time the most crucial service is installed I will most likely be up in heaven, but I just want to encourage you to prioritize where new service is beginning. I also ask you to think further ahead. For instance the new eastern extension to the Gold Line. I am sure the people in Azusa and beyond welcome this addition. The 210 freeway rush hour is really intense. However my problem with this is where are you going to put the additional people boarding the trains? You cannot add and more train cars because the platform is only so long. During rush hour times from Pasadena to Downtown (or vice versa) it is standing room only. When you add all these other communities into the mix like Arcadia, Monrovia and beyond all heading to downtown in the morning, you will have a train full of miserable people not to mention those on the platform that will not be able to board because there is no room. Sure, you can add more frequency of trains, but do you really think these people will be okay with waiting for another train or another train after that?

    Being faced with that day after day, you will have people giving up on the trains and driving again which ruins the idea that we are hoping for, which is getting people out of their cars. Adding new service is great, but you need to think beyond the engineering and environmental issues. You need to see what other problems this will cause.

  15. Still wondering why they can’t build the parking garage with the BHSD at the same time of the subway as a jointly designed project that would appeal to both parties. Seems too obvious to me.

  16. Why should Metro have the right to censor posts that they don’t like because the truth hurts? what ur doing is govt censorship and its illegal in the us constitution!

    • Hi Concerned Taxpayer;

      We do not edit posts. We do moderate the comments board, as do other government blogs — in part to prevent spam and/or inappropriate material from being posted. The vast majority of comments posted to this board are approved, including ones that criticize Metro and other agencies. Of the relatively few comments that aren’t posted, most are deleted because they either use profanity, are too long or redundant or are blatantly incorrect.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  17. I just wish that both sides settle their differences and make sure that the Westside Subway Extension gets built. I am wary of the NIMBYism of both the City of Beverly Hills and its school district.

  18. why did my comment not get posted? i didnt use profanity or obscenities, nor did i attack any person. i also did not say anything false, nor impersonate, abuse, harass or intimidate anyone. i also did not post anything pornographic, misleading, off topic or an advertisement. please review your moderation policies.

  19. As an outsider from NYC following the expanding subway/rail system of Los Angeles, I say congratulations! The choice for the Century City Station is the right choice and if the residents of Beverly Hills are so worried about tunnel construction underneath the high school, one only has to visit Washington, DC. The Metro in our nation’s capitol was built underground well below many of the government buildings and at least one school. The Washington rail system is considered to be among the best in the world and the second busiest system in the U.S.A.

  20. This isn’t a forum. It is a “company” comments post. We really need to start a forum where people can express themselves with less censorship. We can still post on this site, but why would we want to waste our typing time and tire our typing fingers when MTA is just not in the position that it can allow free speech because MTA can’t afford to offend anyone no matter how intelligent, cogent, sound, or fair a case is presented here. I don’t know how to start a forum, but someone in this group should do so and we’ll meet there after reading news here. Let all know where to go.

  21. @Mark DeFazio:
    A point of clarification: The tracks that are in the middle of the 210 are on the old AT&SF (Santa Fe) railroad right of way, which existed before the freeway. The Gold line runs along that old ROW.

  22. Joshua S., your comments were spot-on. Thank you for giving a rebuttal that was clear and civil. Comments like these are exactly what we need to enlighten the community. I nominate you as our spokesperson!

    Furthermore, all the other “angry moms” don’t seem to be as concerned about the long-term effects of pollution from vehicles on the health of their children. Sure, automotive technology is constantly evolving, but with the population in Los Angeles increasing, the best long-term solution is to get more people using public transportation, especially in areas with such dense traffic as Beverly Hills.

    I also am really offended by Angry Mom’s comment “anywhere else in the world.” I just feel like we should try to act a little more like neighbors instead of this “stay the hell out of my community” mentality. It just seems clear to me that these “spontaneous explosions” are just a cover for the deeper issue of why this is being fought so hard. Sounds to me like a lot of people just don’t want us transit riffraff hanging out in Beverly Hills.

  23. deleting posts that are “too long” is a vague answer that is at the discretion of big brother.

    this is y we hate govt. they expect all of our concerns to fit in one sentence! u ppl just dont care about the small folk, u just want us to give u more taxes!

  24. I like this route. The only thing I would change on it is extending it to be within 1/3 of a mile from the Santa Monica Pier. This way there is direct access from Union Station to the Santa Monica Pier. Also, which of the Westside Subway Extension stations do they plan on being free park and ride stations (stations where parking is free)?

  25. Ultimately the lawyers are going to decide, and Metro will have to study the Beverly Hills proposed routes in detail anyway. I agree with Fasana that if there is a way to accommodate Beverly Hills residents, while maintaining the Constellation station which appears to have the higher ridership, why not? Let’s see how much additional time the deviated route will take, and compare that to the amount spent in lawyers and environmental studies trying to reprove the route. While no one wants to abandon all that work done on the original route, sometimes cutting your losses might work out. After all, it’s not like Beverly Hills politicians don’t have connections to federal decisionmakers who control the purse strings.

  26. I don’t think acquiescing to BH’s demands is prudent for Metro (or the region). You shouldn’t reroute an entire line because a group of people simply don’t like it. Bending to a group that is being resistant–without real reasons, at least according to Metro–sets a bad precedent.

  27. Steve, thanks for the update on the 30/10 (“America Fast Forward”) measure.
    By the way – what’s the latest update on that? To this date, the Westside Subway Extension did not receive any federal funds (as of yet) under this 30/10 plan, correct?

    • Alexander,

      Metro is working to secure a federal matching grant for the Westside Subway through the New Starts program. This is separate from the 30/10 plan, which would allow Metro to complete its Measure R transit projects, including the Westside Subway, much more quickly. 30/10 still depends on federal legislation that has yet to be implemented, but is hopefully in the works. An extension of the Measure R sales tax would also allow such an acceleration by making it possible for Metro to borrow against those future revenues.

      Hope that clears it up a little.

      Carter Rubin
      Contributor, The Source

    • Hi A the G,

      Correct. At this point, 30/10 (also known as America Fast Forward) is something that Metro hopes to get into the next multi-year federal transportation spending bill. Congress has balked at passing a bill and opted for multiple extensions of the last bill, which expired in 2009. The subway has applied for federal New Starts money — which is not 30/10 — and that looks like it will happen as final design and construction approaches.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  28. “We really need to start a forum where people can express themselves with less censorship.”

    There are some transit forums out there. You just have to look for them, and they do not get much traffic. It’s not a hot topic like Twilight or something.

    I would recommend the Transit Coalition Board. You can post whatever you want, but if someone disagrees they are going to let you know.

  29. Congratulations Los Angeles (this includes Beverly Hills) on the Purple Line extension. As as 3rd generation Angeleno, the subway is severely needed since the Red Cars were ripped away. My parents and grand parents tell me how convenient the trains. For the opponents of the project, stop being a bully. That means you Beverly Hills…..just think how easy it will be for your workers to arrive to work in your homes, stores and offices.

  30. I hope we can get the *whole* purple line extension done by 2020 (or maybe sooner, but I really think I’m dreaming now…). I know that will be a lot of work, but when I found out about the Expo Line opening I was excited and hoped it would go to Santa Monica and the Purple Line would go to UCLA. (I imagined the heart of Westwood not the bottom, but either way I’ll take it)

    I hope as congestion increases in LA more people will realize how important mass transportation is for us, but I’m glad to see that people have the same idea I had for both the Purple and Expo Lines!