Purple Line Extension Project: Goals for 2020


Above is a section of the Purple Line Extension tunnel between La Brea and Western. The video is taken from the loci train that is used to haul workers and materials.

Now that it’s officially 2020, let’s check-in to see how the Purple Line Extension is coming along. One of Metro’s priority projects, the first section of the Purple Line Extension started heavy construction back in 2015.

Wilshire Boulevard has changed a lot since the early days of construction with much of the recent changes has been mostly underground. 

Tunneling began in late 2018 and in a little more than a year, tunneling is now more than 50 percent complete. More than 3.5 million cubic feet of dirt has been excavated — that’s about 87,500 tons of dirt! Elsie and Soyeon, the Section 1 TBMs, are currently tunneling to the west under Wilshire Boulevard and should be arriving at Wilshire/Fairfax Station in February.

The first section is 3.9 miles long with stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The forecasted opening for Section 1 is late 2023.

Section 2 of the project extends the subway 2.6 more miles to stations in downtown Beverly Hills — at Wilshire/Rodeo — and Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard in Century City. Major construction milestones are being met on this section and the forecast opening is 2025.

Construction at the Wilshire/Rodeo subway station in Beverly Hills ramped up again this month with piling to create the supports for the underground station box. Two additional TBMs are currently being assembled underground in a TBM launch box in Century City on Constellation Boulevard.

This will bring the total of working Purple Line Extension TBMs up to four — more TBMs than any current underground rail project in the United States.

The third section of the project will run another 2.6 miles from Century City to Westwood. With a station at Wilshire Boulevard and Westwood Boulevard near UCLA and a station at Wilshire Boulevard and Bonsall Avenue on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Property. The final section is anticipated to be open in 2027, just in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

In Westwood, work to map and relocate underground utilities took place in 2019. Metro and the Federal Transit Administration are finalizing a massive grant for the project and a ground breaking for major construction should be soon.

To remain on target for completion, the Purple Line Extension’s has these goals for 2020:

  • Tunnel west to Wilshire/La Cienega Station and add 3,280 more feet of tunnels.
  • Finish piling for the Wilshire/Rodeo Station and start decking to create a temporary street surface while excavation occurs underground. 
  • Complete early utility relocation in Westwood and start piling for the Westwood/UCLA Station. 

The Purple Line Extension hosts quarterly meetings and webinars to provide community members the latest project updates. Join the Purple Line Extension for the first webinar of 2020 on Wednesday, January 8, from 12 to 1 p.m.

11 replies

  1. This is the first time I’ve heard that there will soon be four TBMs working this route. Will the two new ones now being assembled at Constellation Boulevard be heading west toward Westwood to begin tunneling Phase 3, or back toward Beverly Hills to accelerate the completion of Phase 2? How soon are they expected to launch?

    • Followup to my own post: I’ve dug a little deeper on the Metro site and found the answer to my first question. The two new TBMs will head EAST from Constellation Boulevard to accelerate the completion of Phase 2. They will meet the Phase 1 tunnels at the tail tracks just west of La Cienega. I am still curious as to how soon they will launch.

      • Hi Tom;

        The TBMs for section 2 are forecast to launch this spring. That could change, but that’s the current plan.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

  2. Hope that those opening timelines stick. Still disappointed that the Regional Connector won’t be opening this year, as was originally planned.

  3. It will be very interesting as to what will happen when the tunneling machines reach the vicinity of the La Brea Tar Pits. My own observations when I was a MTA Road Supervisor and information told to me by a friend who lives just south of there indicate tunneling threw the tar substance will be a real challenge much like tunneling to Catalina Island at sea level. The tar does not end at the north curb line of Wilshire Bl. It extends south of Wilshire Bl. and seepage was observed by myself on more than one occasion and per my friend must be pumped out of the basement of his building on a regular basis.

    The excuses will be numerous and of course will point the finger at others but not those within the MTA bureaucracy..

    • The tunnel boring machines are presently digging under Wilshire from La Brea toward Fairfax and are expected to reach Fairfax next month. In other words, they are working in the area around the tar pits now and they wouldn’t be excavating if Metro didn’t have a plan for dealing with those types of soils.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source