Long wait over: groundbreaking held for Wilshire Boulevard subway extension

Click on a photo to see a larger version! 



Here are renderings and maps of the station locations for the first phase of the Purple Line Extension:

The quick guide to things you should know about the project:

•The groundbreaking is for the 3.9-mile first phase of the project between the Purple Line’s current terminus at Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega in Beverly Hills with new stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. Metro forecasts the first phase will open in 2023.

•The project is finally moving forward because nearly 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008 approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase that provided the local funding that is being combined with a $1.25-billion federal grant and $856-million loan to pay for building the project.

•The project has been literally talked about for decades and has shown up in a variety of transit plans over the years. A pair of groundbreakings were even held in 1962 in hopes of raising funding for the project. Nice try, but it didn’t work. It’s also worth noting that our region’s celebrated streetcars never ran on Wilshire Boulevard despite it being one of the region’s busiest and most densely developed streets.

•Please see this construction pamphlet to learn more about construction methods and plans for the Purple Line Extension project. Here are the most recent construction timelines:



•There is a wealth of information about the Purple Line Extension on the project’s web page on metro.net, including FAQs, community presentations and all the environmental studies and other technical reports for the project dating back to 2007. You can also receive updates about the project on Facebook and Twitter or emailing your contact information to purplelineext@metro.net.

•Metro is working on securing a federal grant and loan to help pay for the second phase of the Purple Line Extension to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City.

•Four other Metro Rail projects are under construction: the Expo Line Phase 2, the Gold Line Foothill Extension, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Regional Connector. Metro has never before had more than two rail projects under construction simultaneously.

More photos are on our Flickr page — absolutely please feel free to use for media, blogs and social media!

The news release from Metro:


Los Angeles, Calif. – Leaders of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today joined federal, state and local elected officials in the Mid-Wilshire District of Los Angeles to break ground on the long awaited Metro Purple Line Extension Project, the largest, most ambitious public works project in the Western United States.

In July, Metro’s Board of Directors approved  a contract with Skanska, Traylor and Shea (STS), a Joint Venture, to construct the Purple Line Extension Project. Construction of the subway extension will connect West Los Angeles to the region’s growing rail network, making it possible to travel between Downtown Los Angeles and Westwood in 25 minutes.  The first subway segment will extend the Purple Line 3.9 miles from the existing Wilshile/Western Purple Line terminus near Koreatown into Beverly Hills.  Three new underground stations are planned at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega, providing fast, frequent, high-capacity transit service farther west along busy Wilshire Boulevard.

“The Purple Line will ease traffic along the congested Wilshire corridor and will make traveling from the westside to downtown faster and greener.” said Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles and Metro Board Chair. “When it comes to infrastructure, L.A. is on the move. We are right now investing 36 billion dollars in our transportation infrastructure to ease congestion and create thousands of jobs. All together, this is the largest public works project in the nation. In the car capital of the world, we are looking to reduce traffic and cut air pollution by giving people car-free options to get to work and play.”

The Purple Line Extension is a critically important rail project that is partially funded by the 2008 Measure R sales tax that was overwhelmingly approved by two-thirds of L.A. County voters. The first segment of the subway is expected to be completed in 2023 with a project budget of $2.821 billion. In addition to this local funding, Metro received a $1.25 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration to help pay for the first segment. The U.S. Department of Transportation also granted Metro a low-interest loan of $856 million from a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to complete the funding package for the project’s first phase. Combined, these nearly $2 billion in project commitments represent the biggest federal transportation investment for a single construction segment in the history of Los Angeles County.

The remaining $821 million in project funding for the first segment includes Measure R, City of Los Angeles local funding, and other existing local and federal funds.

“Today we launch the construction of the first subway segment along the Wilshire corridor to West Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky.  “No transit corridor in our region is in greater need of mass rapid transit.  The area to be served is one of the most dense employment centers in the county and is plagued by some of the worst traffic congestion in the country.   This groundbreaking is long overdue and will be well received by people who work and live in the Westside.”

“Breaking ground on the Purple Line extension is an important step toward completing this key transit option for Angelenos, which will help relieve congestion and boost the local economy,” said U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein. “I applaud the efforts of everyone who helped us reach this point, but we have work left to do. The federal government is committed to providing $1.25 billion of the $2.8 billion cost for phase one, but future phases will require an estimated $3.5 billion. I will continue to strongly support federal funding to complete this important transit project.”

The project is planned to be built in three sections. Section 2, which will include Wilshire/Rodeo and Century City stations, is scheduled for completion in 2026. Section 3, which will include Westwood/UCLA and Westwood/VA Hospital stations, is planned to open in 2035. When all three project sectionss are complete, the Purple Line will extend westward from Wilshire/Western for nearly nine miles with a total of seven new stations.

Metro is currently seeking additional federal funding that could accelerate subway construction for Section 2 in the form of a $1.1 billion grant from the federal New Starts program, and a $307 million low-interest loan from the federal TIFIA program.

“Los Angeles has made enormous strides to expand transportation options and accelerate construction of projects that will create jobs, improve mobility, and spur economic growth,” said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.  “The Purple Line Extension is another major accomplishment.  I am proud that the TIFIA Program from MAP-21 provided key financing of $856 million that enabled this project to move forward.”

“The Purple Line extension puts Angelenos to work building a 21st century transit system for our city,” said U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra. “Connecting the Westside to the greater Los Angeles area by subway will create over 25,000 jobs, increase ridership and result in a boon for our local economy. This project is the right investment that will keep Los Angeles on the move.”

The full nine-mile project is projected to generate about 62,000 daily weekday boardings at the seven new stations. Today, there are 39,000 daily boardings on the Purple Line between Union Station and Wilshire/Western. By 2040, 150,000 daily boardings are expected on the Purple Line between Union Station and Westwood/VA Hospital.

During peak periods, trains are expected to run every four minutes. During off-peak periods, they are expected to run every 10 minutes. It will also create tens of thousands of jobs and generate increased economic activity for the region.

Over 300,000 people travel into the Westside every day for work from throughout the region.  More than 100,000 people leave the area for outside destinations.  These numbers will increase over time.  The Purple Line is expected to provide a much needed transit alternative for traveling to and from West Los Angeles, one of the county’s most densely populated, job-rich areas.  The area is also home to major world-class destinations.

“I’m delighted that construction on the Purple line extension is beginning,” said U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman.  “This rail link will fundamentally change how the people of L.A. get around and provide a direct route to some of the great sites in the Westside.  After section one is finished, you’ll be able to hop on the subway downtown and visit the La Brea Tar Pits, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Petersen Automotive Museum and Restaurant Row.”

The subway extension is expected to reduce reliance on automobiles, help reduce roadway congestion, reduce travel times and reduce greenhouse gases.

“The Purple Line Extension will continue to make Los Angeles a great place to work, live and play,” said U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass. “This extension is an example of what can happen when federal, state and local leaders all work together—bringing billions of dollars into the Los Angeles economy and creating thousands of jobs over the next decade, while building on a vital rail line that will benefit Angelenos for generations.”

“The subway extension project is important not just for the Westside, but for the entire region,” said Pam O’Connor, Santa Monica Mayor and Metro Board member. “Whether you’re traveling to or from West L.A. making the trip will be easier by utilizing the Metro system that connects Angelenos through virtually every part of the county.”

The Purple Line extension also will offer improved connectivity to the entire Metro Bus and Rail network, as well as municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services. It is just one of several projects designed to improve transit options and mobility in the  area. Other planned improvements include the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project and Expo Phase II line to Santa Monica.

“This project’s groundbreaking is the culmination of many years of consensus-building on the Metro Board,” said Ara Najarian, Glendale City Council member and Metro Board member. “Our Board unanimously supported the design and construction of the Purple Line Extension, and we are very glad to see construction begin as we make Los Angeles County a world-class destination with rich transit amenities.”

26 replies

  1. There is something fundamentally wrong with the timelines in the Gantt charts. Frankly, *why do stations take so long*? They constructed them in less than a year back in the 19th century. Now they take THREE AND A HALF years?

    Someone should dig into why station construction is so absurdly slow. Could it be sped up by simply hiring a lot more workers, to do different parts of the station in parallel?

    • Isn’t it obvious?

      19th century: no minimum wage, no overtime, no 40hr week, no state and federal labor laws, slave labor conditions, no unions, no health or safety regulations, no environmental studies, no NIMBYs, free and vast open land stolen from Native Americans, etc. etc.

      Things go faster and cheaper if you don’t have to pay for labor, land, permits or need to follow regulations. But that’s not the world we live in today.

      2014: minimum wage, cost of living increases, pension and other benefits, state and federal labor laws, the right to assemble unions, collective bargaining, strikes, stringent health and safety regulations, environmental studies, endless meetings, city already developed with owners, NIMBYs suing all the time, lawyers, political theater, special interests, taxpayer concerns, etc. etc.

      Which is cheaper, faster, and easier to do?

      Throwing money at something and expecting things to improve doesn’t always happen. We’re spending billions of dollars to get transit running and it’s not getting there any faster nor cheaper than the 19th century method. But we don’t want to go back to 19th century labor conditions either, do you? So we must suck up paying for more taxes. Or, find another way for Metro to make money on their own like making Metro into a for-profit business so they don’t need to rely on tax dollars.

  2. I attended the 3-day LA Rail-Volution conference in Oct 2012. My lodging in Santa Monica, the conference on star-studded Sunset Strip. The trips between were two types – directly on the big red bus, or a shorter bus ride to Culver City, the Aqua line to the Blue Line, then the subway Red Line station near the hotel conference site. The longer distance via LRT took less time, but more important, less wear and tear on my senses, less noise, less rough ride. The articulated red buses feel like riding in the back of a pickup truck. I’m not kidding.

    A rule of thumb I’ve kept for many years about the difference in comfort between LRT and buses is transit patrons comfortably ride “twice” as far on LRT. In this regard for comfort, we’re long over-due for a new bus fleet, starting with new model low-floor, low-emission ‘hybrid’ paratransit vans. As bus routes reallign (shorten, less circuitous) to connect to long-distance LRT routes, their service frequency is more important than capacity. This paratransit type of bus could replace half of the old style 40′ buses which do not convert to hybrid and battery-electric effectively. They remain roaring rattle-trap shake boxes for the transit dependent.

  3. I hope the funding for the next two segments come along in time so there is no more delays in building this line to its terminus..

  4. Cool map. Is it just a coincidence that the airport connector and sepulveda pass lines are the same color?

  5. All I want ( realistically, since bathrooms and food would be cool) is to have the ability to purchase my Metrolink pass at the TVM.

  6. I am really excited to see all the planned projects added to the map. BTW, does anybody see the obvious — the ultimate “405 Line” that hooks up the SF transit corridor + Sepulveda Pass TC + Crenshaw Line + South Bay extension? I think it would really be nice if Metro could start planning for that connection between Expo/Crenshaw and Westwood now.

    Not that I believe the fare structure will be forever, but just think, $1.75 one-seat ride from San Fernando to Long Beach!

  7. Is Metro ever going to fix the map? It’s really embarrassing to show a geographic incorrect map like this – 2nd & Hope is north of Pershing Square, not south.

    • Transit maps are schematic, not geographic. Ask any New Yorker or Londoner about geographic oddities in their maps.

      As for Metro’s map, have you ever noticed the Purple Line’s Western Avenue is more westerner than the Red Line’s Western Avenue? But like 2nd and Hope, focusing on it misses the point.

      And don’t even start on the misrepresentations in the Mercator-projecion world map!

  8. Waxman and Zev should not have been allowed to be a part of today’s groundbreaking. They screwed us over by not allowing the subway to built for an entire generation.

  9. “I’m delighted that construction on the Purple line extension is beginning,” said U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman. “This rail link will fundamentally change how the people of L.A. get around and provide a direct route to some of the great sites in the Westside. After section one is finished, you’ll be able to hop on the subway downtown and visit the La Brea Tar Pits, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Petersen Automotive Museum and Restaurant Row.”

    That would have been a nice thing to say 20 years ago!!!! Thanks for wasting our time Waxman & Zev.

    • Oh and thanks for permanently killing the East L.A. subway extension to Whittier too …

  10. Much as I love LA , 6 years to extend the purple line under 4 miles and the extension to west LA not expected to be completed until 2035, in 21 years in somewhat beyond belief
    Here in London the first underground 25 miles of the $30 billion Crossrail project which extends from west to East will open next year after just 6 years ! Eventually it will extend a further 60 miles and be open well before the purple line rescued the VA

  11. Will the new Purple Line Subway Stations include restrooms, unlike other Stations? Keeping 64,000 people moving daily, without restroom access, is WRONG. Bad decisions were made previously, which should not continue.

    Planners should be trapped underground for 1-2 hours sometimes, and see how they feel then.

    • Hi Kim;

      At this point, I don’t believe restrooms are planned.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Or other amenities like convenience stores, fast food outlets, merchant spaces, ATM machines, police sub-stations, etc. etc. that you know, other cities all around the world manage to put into their subway stations?