Groundbreaking ceremony held for Purple (D Line) Extension to Westwood

Metro today held a ceremonial groundbreaking with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, UCLA and key local and federal officials to mark the start of major construction on the third and final section of the Purple (D Line) Extension Project that will connect downtown L.A. and the Westside via a high-speed, high capacity subway in 2027. A recording of the event is above.

FTA Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez was in attendance to celebrate the $3.6-billion Section 3 project, which has received a $1.3-billion federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project will connect two previous subway sections through Koreatown, Beverly Hills and Century City and extend it another two-and-a-half miles to Westwood. Metro will build new stations at Westwood/UCLA to serve Westwood Village and UCLA and another at Westwood/VA Hospital to serve the hospital campus just west of the I-405 freeway.

Contractor Tutor-Perini/O&G’s near-term work for the future Westwood/VA Hospital station includes a piling operation to create a temporary support structure for the underground station. Drill rigs will dig 100-foot deep holes into the ground and a crane will place steel beams known as ‘piles’ into each hole. After the pile is put in place, each hole will be filled with concrete to provide support for the station walls. Following completion of piling later this year, Metro’s contractor will then begin excavating the subway station box.

Prior “pre-construction” work to date has consisted of final design, advanced utility relocation and Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) assembly and component testing, among others.

Ceremonial shovel hits the dirt outside the Westwood VA Hospital this morning.

The FTA’s $1.3-billion federal grant will be delivered through a multi-year agreement known as a Full Funding Grant Agreement that is governed by the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program, popularly referred to as “New Starts.” It is a stand-alone grant agreement, with no required loans for Metro to pay back as in previous funding agreements for first two project extensions. The remaining funds needed to build the project will come from Metro’s own local voter-approved transportation sales tax measures.

The $9.5-billion project was able to secure approximately half of the total project cost from the FTA.

Metro is now actively building all three sections of the subway extension, which are planned to open in 2024, 2025 and 2027, respectively. The first section between Wilshire/Western and Beverly Hills is nearly 70 percent complete. Section 2 is now nearly 45 percent complete. Section 3, including pre-construction work, has reached 20 percent completion.

The subway extension to the Westwood/VA Hospital station will garner about 49,300 daily weekday boardings at the seven new stations. There will be about 78,000 new daily trips on the full Metro Rail System as a result of opening this line.

Prior to the pandemic, over 300,000 workers traveled into the Westside every morning from throughout the region — and the Westside is the second largest job center in our region. More than 100,000 trips also leave the area for outside destinations. As the pandemic has eased, traffic has returned and the subway extension project will offer improved connectivity to the entire Metro Bus and Rail network, as well as transfers to municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services.

Click here for a photo gallery from the event.

QUOTES

“The Purple Line Expansion is the key that will unlock our transportation future and open doors of opportunity across our city — and today’s groundbreaking moves us one step closer to completely redefining our relationship with public transit,” said L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “We promised Angelenos a world-class transit system when we passed Measure M, and this milestone is a clear indication of our commitment to make Los Angeles a more accessible, sustainable, and inclusive city.”

FTA Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez with, at right, L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti and Metro CEO Phil Washington.

“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to partner with Metro and the entire Los Angeles region to bring more transportation options to residents, veterans, students and visitors to the 2028 Summer Olympics through the Purple Line extension,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This project is an excellent example of a transformational infrastructure investment that the Biden-Harris Administration supports. It will improve access and mobility for millions of people traveling in one of Los Angeles County’s most congested corridors.”

“I’d like to congratulate LA Metro on the latest Purple Line groundbreaking,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein.  “The new station at the West LA VA campus will allow people to travel from downtown Los Angeles to the VA facility in about half an hour, which will greatly increase access to the VA for veterans and employees who work at the campus. I’m been proud to help secure funding for the Purple Line over the years. This subway line is expected to be one of the busiest transit lines in the country, and today’s groundbreaking keeps the project on-track to be completed in time for the 2028 Olympics.”

“This groundbreaking which will connect the Westside to Downtown LA in 30 minutes is so exciting for me personally but also for the community I represent,” said U.S. Rep. Karen Bass. “Safety, efficiency and effectiveness are all key in this project. And I want to commend the Metro team, including my friend Phillip Washington, who is a national leader in infrastructure and transportation- as well as the acting FTA Administrator Nuria Fernanadez for seeing this project through.”

“The completed Purple Line is finally pulling into view,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Sheila Kuehl.  “The last leg of construction is getting underway, and whether you’re sick of congestion, concerned about climate change, or just looking for a fast way to get from downtown to the Westside and back, closing in on completion of this portion of our 21st century transit network is really good news.”

“This new Metro line connecting L.A.’s two biggest job centers with fast, frequent, and reliable transit service will revolutionize how Angelenos move around their city,” said L.A. City Council Member and Metro Board Member Mike Bonin. “It is the single most important investment we are making to untangle the Westside’s notorious gridlock and give people real alternatives to sitting in traffic.”

“Once completed, the Purple Line extension will not only ease the burden of commuting for tens of thousands of Angelenos, but it will also improve connectivity for veterans across the region traveling to and from the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “I’m proud to see federal funding complement the great work that LA Metro is doing to bring the Purple Line to Westwood, and I look forward to working in Congress to bring additional federal resources needed to improve transportation in the greater Los Angeles region.”

“The Purple Line Extension will be a welcomed resource for the Veterans and medical center staff traveling to West LA for medical care and work,” said Dr. Steven Braverman, Director, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. “The Westwood-VA Hospital extension will provide dedicated transportation, reduce traffic near our campus, and increase campus access for our Veterans across the greater Los Angeles area.”

“I want to thank U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for championing this project as a key member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “I also want to express my appreciation to FTA Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez, Vice President Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congressman Ted Lieu and all members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation for uniting behind this project and ensuring that federal funding would be prioritized for this important project. It is truly a project of regional and national significance.”

22 replies

  1. Next year I hope in Santa Monica to hold a meeting on passenger rail in the Westside including whether a further western extension to the Purple Line to Santa Monica connecting with the Expo Line terminal is warrented.

    • Don’t see the Santa Monica extension happening anytime in the next 30 years. One of the options for westside service to LAX had the SFV line terminating at Wilshire/Westwood with a Purple Line extension from the VA to LAX (creating a one seat from Union Station through downtown to the airport). That has a better chance right now than a Santa Monica extension through some low density neighborhoods.

      • No thank you, please use the Harbor Subdivision instead. That is more direct and quicker to the Airport than a Subway that has to actually divert west before finally head to the Airport. Just have Purple Line Terminate in Westwood until it rains money again and let the 405 Line continue to LAX.

        Build it right or don’t build it at all. Compromises are the reason the Expo Line is what it is.

    • It is, but unless All residents West of the 405 between Sunset and Venice are willing to tax themselves extra to finishing building it to the Ocean, Coney Island style, it probably won’t happen for at least another decade.

      And Metro REALLY needs to start being transparent. For Measure R they essentially marketed the extra tax dollars as it would pay for the “Subway to the Sea” in full, yet came up with this curtailed crap.

    • Sounds great to me but unfortunately I don’t think many of your neighbors in Santa Monica share your enthusiasm. Santa Monica has done everything but park cars on the Expo right of way to sabotage that line. Locals were also quite vociferous regarding the crime increases that occurred after that line was completed. Speed restrictions, design demands, and the infamous 4th/Colorado drop off lot that no driver has ever successfully accessed – this was all done on purpose.

      • The decision to have a Lincoln at-grade crossing has to be the most head-scratching, bone-headed move made for Expo in Santa Monica.

  2. Anyone else wonder why we’re building a station at the VA half a mile from the nearest residence or business? The VA has almost zero public transit demand. Was it necessary to smooth along the federal funding process? Westside buses will obviously feed the station but they would do that wherever the last station was.

    • They need to get something past the wall of the 405. Ideally it could have extended at least another stop to Bundy but I’ll take what I can get.

    • I think it’s because it has potential to be a huge park & lot. Obviously not the best land use but that’s what a good chunk of that site is, open space. There is potential to build long needed veterans housing there too. I wish they made the last stop at Wilshire/Bundy, seems more logical considering the offices in the area and the potential to have a shuttle between there and Expo/Bundy down the road.

      • Park and ride for the general public is not an approved land use for the VA property. The station will have an extended drop/pickup zone with space for waiting buses, but no extended parking areas.

      • The park and ride lot was my first thought too back when they first announced this. Spoiler alert – there’s no park and ride lot. I’m surprised that the VA is going to allow their front lawn to be turned into a bus terminal. They just spent the last ten years under federal/Congressional investigation for allowing non-VA uses on their property. They kicked out the Red Cross, UCLA, and Brentwood School but are allowing this that will serve 99% non-veterans and generate no revenue?

        • There’s also the making of a possible major choke point with increased vehicular traffic exiting the VA going east on Wilshire mingling in a very tight space with Wilshire eastbound traffic exiting to 405 south entry ramp.

          Currently, the minimal VA traffic doesn’t impact the ramp (or other eastbound Wilshire traffic) but the subway drop off/pickup will greatly increase traffic.

    • It is one of the great mysteries and examples of poor urban planning. The VA is really a terrible spot for a station. Not walkable to anything except the onramp to the 405, can’t bike there and even the busses struggle to get there in traffic with San Vicente and Wilshire merging 6 lanes into 3 just a half mile west of there creating a massive daily traffic jam. Meanwhile, yet another massive high rise is being built 3/4 of a mile west of there in an already dense and traffic clogged Wilshre.

      • Last summer I worked at the COVID testing site at the VA. I saw dozens of bike riders passing by Jackie Robinson Stadium. With access to the VA via transit, veterans with mobility issues will have better access to the services at the site. At times the station sites are much more forward looking than backward looking. There are several stations on some of the lines that did not ‘make sense’ at the time. Even though the area was not high transit demeaned then, the presence of a station (vs a bus stop), was a single that transit would be there. Thing sprung up around the stop. The area was revitalize. This will help the VA become a much more vital campus. The usage of the land in support of the VA’s mission will be charged up.

      • Had they just put the station box west of Bonsall with an eastern portal to the hospital and a western portal closer to Federal, it would’ve greatly enhanced and improved the likelihood of Brentwood pedestrian usage.

    • Staff said having Westwood as the last stop would reduce its utility. Think of the torturous slowing when trains enter Union Station (which was supposed to only temporarily be a terminal when the Eastside extension was anticipated to open in a mere few years later).

      This way they pull into Westwood at speed then continue to layover at the VA.

    • While the Westwood/Wilshire station won’t be making it to the Top 10 busiest station in the world, it WILL be the busiest station west of the Mississippi River.
      Because of that, the Westwood/Wilshire/UCLA station simply won’t be able to handle the capacity on its own during rush hour (anyone remember the fiasco during the 2017 Women’s March?).

      Hence why it got extended to VA. Yes it’s in the middle of nowhere, but passengers west of the 405 can transfer to the Purple Line at the VA station rather than having even more people Queue at Wilshire/Westwood.

      Do I agree they should’ve just used that small piece of Vacant land at Bundy to build a Station there rather than VA? Of course. But this is Metro after all, the worst agencies in the world, and the agency that might somehow actually find $250 million to go fareless for a certain demographic but not an extra $500 million to simply extend a Subway and Extra mile.

  3. “ Extension Project that will connect downtown L.A. and the Westside via a high-speed, high capacity subway in 2027.”

    – Relax!! Yeah it’s impressive, but even Metrolink is faster in certain sections.

  4. Bundy would have even less space I believe for parking or bus transfers than VA.
    But I agree that VA is a better end point than Wilshire/Westwood. That station is going to become crazy busy once the Sepulveda Pass route crosses on its way to Expo and LAX. Glad to hear UCLA cooperating on wanting a station on campus. They would be crazy not too and they can have transit like USC already does 🙂
    I really don’t think you are going to find or build much parking on the Westside on either line, so the next best bet is get the best situated stations in the busy places=. VA campus, UCLA campus, LAX transit center etc.. Without alot of parking concentrate on the best kiss-n-rides set up, bicycle facilities, pedestrian friendly. Seems all we can do.
    Wilshire segments seem to be moving along pretty good, I just have concerns that Sepulveda line will not be done in time for Olympics.
    They are still goofing around wasting time on a monorail, they only just voted to see federal funding on this line and WSAB line and the northern end of the line still has route options to address. I will try to keep the faith.

  5. “ Glad to hear UCLA cooperating on wanting a station on campus. They would be crazy not too and they can have transit like USC already does 🙂”

    If I’m not mistaking, UCLA is the 4th largest employer in LA county. Whether they wanted to or not, they HAD to say yes to a train station to campus at this point. It’s more beneficial to them to have it than not to say yes.