What the what? Yes, that's a mock subway car in the parking lot of the Metro Customer Center at Wilshire & La Brea, celebrating the announcement Tuesday afternoon that utility relocation is beginning for the Westside Subway Extension, a key Measure R-funded project.
A few highlights from the media event:
•Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the subway project is one of many that will help remake L.A. into a more transit-oriented city with more development around transit stations. “This town is crying out for these kind of investments,” he said.
•As for the subway project, the current estimated timeline has the contract for construction awarded in 2014, the start of tunneling in 2015 and the opening of the first segment from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega in 2022/3.
•Mayor Villaraigosa said that despite Measure J losing at the polls last week, he and Metro will work on a “plan B” to accelerate transit projects, including the subway.
•Echoing that theme, Move LA's Denny Zane said that Measure J will now become the “poster child” for eliminating the super-majority needed for local sales tax votes, calling it a “perversion” that the measure could get nearly 65 percent of the vote and still lose.
•Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising speaker of the day was Beverly Hills Mayor Willie Brien, who lauded the subway as a necessary project that will help mobility in the region. Brien did not address the lawsuits filed by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District against Metro over the subway's environmental studies and news media on hand declined to ask Brien or any public officials any questions.
The news release is after the jump and shown below is the first official hole in the ground for utility relocation.
Here's the news release issued by Metro:
Milestone: L.A. Metro officially begins utility relocation work for Westside Subway Extension project
Marking the first construction milestone for the long-awaited Westside Subway Extension project, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today officially began utility relocation work in L.A.’s Mid-Wilshire District. The work is a required precursor to future subway construction that will ultimately extend the Metro Purple Line by nine miles to key destinations on the Westside.
Utility crews have begun relocating existing underground telecommunication lines on Wilshire Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Detroit Street where a future subway station is planned. Utility relocation work is also planned at Wilshire/Western and the future Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega stations over the next year and a half. Communities closest to these locations will be notified in advance of planned work activities. Together, the three stations constitute the project’s first four-mile construction phase.
“The pre-construction work launches one of the city’s most dynamic transit projects: a subway that will link downtown to the city’s Westside,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also serves on the Metro Board of Directors. “The Westside Subway Extension will provide world-class transit service along one of the region’s most heavily traveled corridors and its construction will create thousands of local jobs. We remain committed to delivering the 21st Century transportation system thatLos Angeles County voters asked for when they approved Measure R four years ago.”
Utility relocation work is part of Metro’s overall preconstruction activities that will also include securing a construction contractor, acquiring needed real estate, continuing field testing and conducting ongoing community outreach. In the area around the La Brea Tar Pits, where there are higher levels of tar sands which may contain fossils and other paleontological resources, workers will also build an exploratory shaft to better evaluate ground conditions. Findings will be used for the final design of the Wilshire/Fairfax Station.
“This is a major milestone for mass transit in Los Angeles,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Zev Yaroslavsky, also a Metro board member. “Thanks to Measure R, and for the first time since the Wilshire/Western station opened in 1996, we are taking the first steps toward serving our mid-Wilshire and Westside constituents with fast, efficient, reliable and convenient rail service as part of our regional network.”
In other project developments, the Federal Transit Administration recently permitted the project to advance into its Final Design phase. Metro intends pursue federal New Starts matching funds for the project next year.
The total project is forecast to cost $6.3 billion based on a three-phase construction schedule. Major construction of subway stations and tunnels for the first segment between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega is expected to begin in 2014, with planned completion in 2023. The second construction phase would add another 2.6 miles of subway service and would include new Wilshire/Rodeo and Century City Stations, and has a planned opening date for 2026. The last remaining construction phase of the project would add another 2.9 miles to the service, include two new stations at Westwood/UCLA and Westwood/VA Hospital, and open in 2036.
Once complete, the Purple Line Extension will include a total of seven new subway stations. About 49,300 people are forecasted to board the line at these stations. There would be about 78,000 new daily trips on the full Metro Rail System as a result of the opening of this line. Transit riders will be able to travel between downtown Los Angeles and the Westwood/UCLA Station in about 25 minutes.
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation forecasts that the project will create 52,500 jobs (direct, indirect and induced), $3.04 billion in labor income, and $8.13 billion in business revenue generated by the project in theSouthern California region.
For more information about the Westside Subway Extension project, visit metro.net/westside.