Metro held two community meetings on Thursday in Beverly Hills to explain upcoming work on the first phase of the Purple Line Extension that will run for 3.9 miles between the Wilshire/Western station and the new Wilshire/La Cienega station.
The Beverly Hills Courier covered the meetings but their article did not fully or correctly explain the work that will take place.
•The Courier reported that “The Metro reps said that, first, Metro will dig a massive open hole for the La Cienega station. That hole will remain open for at least seven years, covered by steel plates. The station will be built under the plates then covered over.”
That’s not exactly right and to clarify: Surface construction on the Purple Line Extension will occur at the three new station sites along Wilshire Boulevard — at La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega, as well as at Western in order to connect the extension to the existing Purple Line.
In between these locations, long stretches of Wilshire will be undisturbed as tunneling takes place completely below ground. As shown in the presentation posted above and the slide below, Wilshire will remain open for motorists throughout most of the construction.
However, there will be lane closures on Wilshire for two activities — the utility relocation that is occurring now and future pile installation.
During utility relocation, two lanes of traffic will be maintained during the daytime with possible full or partial closures of Wilshire at night at the station locations.
During pile installation, work will take place behind a K-rail with two lanes of traffic open in each direction. For both activities, sidewalks and driveways will remain open.
In order to install the decking, sections of Wilshire will be closed over a series of weekends, with the closures beginning late Friday night and reopening before the Monday morning rush hour — at which time the street will return to full use.
Once the decking is complete, station construction continues below ground and beneath the concrete decking with access to the underground station box provided from construction staging sites that are located off to the side of Wilshire. This work will take place for approximately five years while Wilshire Boulevard remains fully open to traffic. This is not different than Red Line construction in Hollywood, when Hollywood Boulevard remained fully open while the Hollywood/Highland station was built — as shown in this page from the meeting presentation:
•The Courier’s story made two other errors. In response to questions from the audience and in conversations with the reporter, Kasey Shuda — the Construction Relations Manager for the project — explained that Metro would reimburse the city of Beverly Hills for any lost parking meter revenue during the time that work crews are blocking parking spaces on the street. She never spoke about parking garages, as the Courier reported.
Also, a question about the water table was answered by Scott McConnell, the project’s Director of Construction Management. He explained that Metro employs various techniques to keep water out of the tunnels and stations including gaskets, tunnel liners and pumps. Any water removed is treated if necessary and then released into the sewer or storm drain depending on what is appropriate. Metro staff also explained that the underground subway will not raise the water table in the area.
Aside from media stories, it’s important to understand why these meetings were held in addition to the regular community outreach meetings that Metro hosts for the project, most recently on Jan. 29.
Metro has a “Master Cooperative Agreement” with the city of Los Angeles that governs how Metro and the city will work together during subway construction, including each parties’ responsibilities, timelines and how Metro will reimburse the city for its time. Metro is hoping to also get such an agreement with Beverly Hills.
The meetings held Thursday were done at the request of the Beverly Hills City Council when they deferred action in January on two pending permits from Metro. The agency believes that an agreement with Beverly Hills will help the agency deliver the project as promised and simplify the permit approval process so that Metro, the city and area residents and businesses will know what to expect while construction proceeds.