This is the third part in The Source’s new series called “Subway Facts & History” to address some of the issues generating discussion involving the Westside Subway Extension project. The facts below are based on information from Metro staff and consultants planning the project. The information, in various forms, has already been publicly released.
As planning continues for the Westside Subway Extension, one of the issues still to be resolved is where to put the Century City station.
Two basic locations are still on the table: along Santa Monica Boulevard or at the intersection of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. The latter would require subway tunnels to be routed under parts of the Beverly Hills High campus, which has generated opposition in Beverly Hills.
The following points are intended to help explain why the Constellation station location is being studied and some of the associated issues:
•As the county agency responsible for planning, financing and building the Westside Subway Extension project, Metro has the legal authority and legal obligation to study different options for subway stations and routes.
•Any major project, such as the subway, must conduct an environmental analysis resulting in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that follows state guidelines. Projects such as the subway that plan to receive federal funds must also meet federal environmental analysis guidelines and produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
•The analysis and preparation of these reports is the process for how projects like these are planned. Decisions about the project are made at key milestones by the Metro Board of Directors, which oversees Metro.
•A report from the Beverly Hills Mass Transit Committee issued in Jan. 2007 — before the formal studies for the Westside Subway Extension were launched — recommended that the Century City station be located along Santa Monica Boulevard. The report also recognized that Metro would study other alignments for the subway tunnels, including some under private property.
• Formal subway planning activities began in the fall of 2007 with an Alternatives Analysis (AA) study. Metro consulted with cities, stakeholders and residents beforehand to identify issues that should be considered. However, Metro did not make any agreements with any city or individual over specific routes, station locations or the type of project that would be built.
•Metro received numerous comments during the scoping period for the AA about a variety of topics the public wanted evaluated. These included suggestions to have the line deviate north to directly reach the Farmers Market and the Beverly Center, adding a station at the VA Hospital, connections with other Metro Rail lines, studying a Century City station location south of Santa Monica Boulevard, having a station in the heart of Westwood Village or on the UCLA campus, among others.
•Dating back to 2007, Metro has studied multiple locations for a Century City station including Santa Monica Boulevard. There has been significant public participation, and Metro is legally obligated to look at all alternatives.
•The Alternatives Analysis concluded at the end of 2008 and recommended different alignments all along the subway route — including the Century City area — for more evaluation in the next step, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (DEIS/R).
•The DEIS/R was released in Aug. 2010 and recommended a subway route mostly along Wilshire. The document also said that more work needed to be done before selecting a station location in Century City, primarily for two reasons: 1) To determine if a station could be built along Santa Monica Boulevard, which runs along the Santa Monica Fault, and; 2) To determine the best station location in Century City from a ridership, financial and urban planning perspective.
•The DEIS/R also found that moving the station from Santa Monica to Constellation would increase the capital cost of the project by about $60 million because a longer tunnel would be needed between Beverly Hills and Westwood. Those numbers are being refined as part of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report.
•Early estimates in the DEIS/R also found that moving the station from Santa Monica to Constellation would increase the capital cost of the project by $60 million. That is based on conceptual engineering that was done in mid-2010. Much more detailed preliminary engineering is being conducted and those numbers are being refined for the Final EIS/R.
•The stations under consideration in Century City are about .2 – .4 miles apart, a four to 8 minute walk.
•The regional ridership model that Metro is required to use was not able to identify a significant ridership difference between the Santa Monica Blvd./Avenue of the Stars station and the Constellation station in the Draft EIS/R. At the time, the model had not been sufficiently calibrated to distinguish between stations that are so close together. The model is being recalibrated to produce more refined estimates for the Final EIS/R.
•The Draft EIS/R also projected that in the year 2035, there would be about 15,000 jobs within one-quarter mile of a station on Santa Monica Boulevard and 25,000 jobs within one-quarter mile of the Constellation station.
•One reason for the difference in the job numbers: the Los Angeles Country Club’s golf course is on the northern side of Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City, whereas Constellation has buildings on all four sides.
•Cost estimates are also being refined for the FEIS/R.
•Regardless of which location is chosen, Metro’s projections are that a Century City station will be among the most heavily used on the Westside Subway Extension.
•Metro staff will make their recommendation for a subway route and station locations based on factors including public input, feasibility of construction, operations issues, project cost and public safety.
•The Final EIS/EIR containing staff recommendations should be released this fall with a period for public review. After that, it will be presented to the Metro Board of Directors who will vote on a final route at a public meeting.
Subway Facts & History, part 1: Building atop subway tunnels
Subway Facts & History, part 2: Seismic issues
I should like to point out to Stephen Watt that the list of lines I included in my original comment do not simply pass through Century City; they begin and end their trips there. Constellation allows for buses to park briefly while the operator takes a break after a long trip; Santa Monica does not. So much for buses being “easily re-routed”.
And perhaps Kyle K. missed all of the original public scoping meetings about the routing; there was discussion (lots of it) about alternate routings to serve those locations. My recollection is that the additional trip running time was not justified by the potential additional ridership when compared to the delay it would cause to passengers destined to points along Wilshire.
What struck me was something that hasn’t really gotten any discussion: shifting the route a little north to hit the Grove, Farmer’s Market, and Beverly Center. I guess that defeats the purpose of hitting the commercial corridor on Wilshire through Miracle Mile, but street traffic all over there is a total mess and the roads themselves are physically destroyed. I see it as a gain either way. More people in this city go shopping than go to work anyways.
I recommend the Santa Monica Blvd route.
It is hard to believe that we could justify the higher $60 million cost for a such a small distance. The 1/4 mile measurement of jobs is too small; people are willing to walk as far as reasonable for the benefit of riding the subway given the obvious benefit. By building it on Santa Monica, it does make it closer walking distance to the Beverly Hilton and Beverly Hills high school itself, ironically. Bus routes can easily be re-routed in this local area. I see no justification for the Constellation route given the issues presented.
The question is not one of easy transfer to/from buses, in my view. Most of the patronage to Century City Station will be employees of the various businesses and offices there, and those passengers will obviously walk to and from the station.
But, since “Bobby McGee” has raised the issue, let me rebut the comment of ease of transfers on Santa Monica Blvd. as opposed to within Century City itself …
While I think there could be some anticipated transfers to and from Metro Rapid 704 on Santa Monica Blvd. (especially by passengers coming from West L.A. and Santa Monica) there is nothing that prevents the realignment of that line to a Constellation/Avenue of the Stars stop; in fact, I would think that the 704 (and the local Line 4, for that matter) could be deviated for a quarter-mile or so to that location.
And remember that Metro Lines 16, 28, 316 and Rapid 728 already begin and end at Constellation, as do Santa Monica Line 5, Culver City Line 3, and LADOT Line 573 (and the Santa Clarita commuter line also serves that location). So a case could be made that the Constellation location makes for better bus connections than on-street at Santa Monica Blvd. and that a realignment of the Lines 4-704 service would, with the addition of the Purple Line, create a bona fide transit hub there.
As it stands now, transferring to either the Santa Monica or Culver City lines is impossible at Santa Monica Blvd., which essentially flips the “lousy access” argument in favor of Constellation.
Quick, efficient transfers to buses can be achieved at a Santa Monica Blvd. station NOT in the middle of Century City, well known for it lousy access, which bus transfers inefficient.
Wasn’t there an earlier routing N/S on Avenue of the Stars with a station at Constellation that was eliminated early on? That routing would avoid BHHS and eliminate those problems yet it will offer a station that would serve the entire Century City area. Remember, the station on SMB that avoids the Santa Monica Fault is located at Century Park East extending east of Moreno Drive that is inside of Beverly Hills. It serves Beverly Hills better than the entire Century City area. Your documentation above shows a 4-8 minute walk. That timing depends upon how fast one walks or runs.