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.