Some very good news for Metro and the Purple Line Extension subway project arrived on Friday: in a federal lawsuit brought against the Federal Transit Administration, U.S. District Court Judge George Wu upheld the FTA’s prior approval of the project.
What that means in non-legalese: Metro can move forward with finalizing a $1.2-billion federal grant and $307-million federally-backed loan to help pay for the project’s second phase between Wilshire/La Cienega in Beverly Hills and Century City. If Judge Wu had decided to vacate the FTA’s approval, that money could have been delayed or, even worse, lost and the project would have been delayed.
In order to build the subway, the federal grant and loan is being paired with money from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 to fund a number of transit, road and other transportation projects. The first section of the subway between Wilshire/Western Station and Wilshire/La Cienega is currently under construction.
As a part of this ruling, Judge Wu is directing FTA to redo parts of the project’s environmental studies — mostly having to do with seismic studies and methane near the Beverly Hills High School and Century City. Metro has begun that work.
The federal lawsuit against the FTA was brought by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District. A similar state lawsuit by both plaintiffs against Metro was previously decided in Metro’s favor. The city and school district disputed the need for the subway project to tunnel under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus in order to avoid an earthquake fault along Santa Monica Boulevard.
Metro officials on Friday said they were grateful for the Judge’s ruling and that they look forward to delivering a project that will safely and quickly serve transit riders on the chronically-congested Westside.