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Metro Experts Support Constellation Boulevard Station

Scientists have advised the Metro Board of Directors Planning Committee to select the subway route that requires tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released a report Wednesday on the Westside Subway Extension’s seismic and safety issues that favors a Constellation Boulevard location for the Century City stop.

Metro states that scientists have recommended the Constellation Boulevard route in order to avoid two earthquake faults in the area. The experts, who include seismologists, geologists and engineers, said that tunneling can be done safely under . Fieldwork and research also failed to detect any active or inactive oil wells on the high school campus that would be in the path of potential subway tunnels. However, no decision about the final placement of the subway route has been made. 

The Westside Subway Extension would travel through Beverly Hills to proposed stops at Wilshire/La Cienega and Wilshire/Rodeo, then onward to one of two proposed stops in Century City: Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, which would , or one at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, the location that scientists are advising Metro not to use due to the presence of the Santa Monica Fault. 

Mayor Barry Brucker and Vice Mayor William Brien proposed a third option—for Metro to build a Century City stop at Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East—with the added incentive that Beverly Hills could be the location for two to get commuters to and from the station. Experts hired by Metro, however, have reported that the Century Park East site is within the West Beverly Hills Lineament fault zone, an extension of the Newport-Inglewood Fault. 

In an email released by Metro, experts reportedly told the Metro Board of Directors Planning Committee that tunneling under BHHS as part of the Constellation Boulevard route “would not compromise the structural integrity of existing structures, interfere with future building plans or create perceptible noise or vibrations on school grounds.” 

To read the report in its entirety, click here.

“Metro’s seismic findings are, of course, a disappointment to me, the City Council and the entire community,” Brucker said in a statement. 

The city has hired two engineering firms, Exponent Inc. and Shannon & Wilson, to conduct separate, independent analyses of Metro’s seismic findings.   

“The independent analysis by our consultants is an important step toward determining the appropriate response for Beverly Hills as we move forward,” Brucker said. “The citizens of Beverly Hills deserve a fair and impartial independent analysis.” 

The council has formally requested a 90-day delay between when the final Environmental Impact Statement/Report is released and when Metro meets to consider the tunnel route between Beverly Hills and Century City.

“We need at least 90 days to properly evaluate the scientific and seismic data before any final decision is made,” Brucker said. 

The seismic and safety reports released Wednesday will be used by Metro staff to develop a recommendation on the Westside Subway Extension’s EIS/EIR, which is scheduled to be released this winter. The final decision on the subway’s route is made by the Metro Board of Directors and expected in early 2012.

Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education President Lisa Korbatov released a statement in response to Metro’s report. 

“Metro has opened a veritable Pandora’s box that potentially impacts many dozens of existing buildings and future projects in the region, including Beverly Hills High School, future station locations for the Westside Subway Extension as well as currently entitled development projects,” she wrote. “Our independent experts will immediately begin evaluating the findings and will weigh in as this process moves forward.” 

Should the Constellation Boulevard route receive approval, two tunnels would be built 55-70 feet below the BHHS campus. The tunnels would pass under the  and then go beneath the high school’s tennis courts, the southern wing of Building B and the lacrosse fields.

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Tom Pease October 20, 2011 at 01:00 AM
Since those faults on Santa Monica Blvd are so very dangerous I am assuming the City will immediately kill the plans have those two 47 story towers on the faults. If they don't I'll have to take their findings with a 47 story grain of salt...
joninla October 20, 2011 at 05:54 AM
WOW! Has the City inadvertently fallen into the Irrational 'Group Panic Dynamic' & now questions Professional Scientific Researchers Reports? Does the City really conceive - Thousands of Professional People (highly educated, most with families and proud of their hard work and careers) willing to face a Felony Criminal Charge by making false reports about each of the safety issues brought up by irrational people in the City. Isn't that what the City of Beverly Hills is saying - there is a giant conspiracy of thousands willing to put their careers on the line, over the location of a subway station and it route? Does the City Council now really think the reports addressing human safety are paid off 'Professional Opinions' and somehow not 'independent' and thus not reliable? This is not a trial of conflicting 'expert opinions' - these are Reports based on Scientific Data - there is no "opinion" about data results.
John Mirisch October 20, 2011 at 07:28 AM
Oh, boy, joninla, perhaps you should consider changing your moniker to jonnewinla. Do you not know how EIR's work? Have you not heard that LA is a "pay to play" city? Spin is a fact of life in the City of Angels. I don't think anybody is suggesting data has been falsified, but the interpretation is, well... open to interpretation. That's part of science. To suggest that there is "scientific data" and it's cut-and-dried is to ignore the history of science and discovery. The Metro "experts" referred on more than one occasion to the "stunning" developments in technology in the past few years which have made safe tunneling possible. Is it not then possible that these "stunning" developments will lead to new technology which make the current difficulties easy to solve, much in the same way that a few years ago the methane issues would have made the current project impossible because of the safety aspects? In the meantime, all high-rise construction along Santa Monica Boulevard, as well as the fault line from Century City west to the sea, must stop immediately in line with the conclusions of these "Thousands of Professional People." For those of us who favor low-rise development and more modest density, at least there will be a swath along Santa Monica which will remain human-scale. Undoubtedly, reining in overdevelopment will help to contain the traffic impacts that high-rises would have created.
Chris Loos October 20, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Great news! The westside subway is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Carol Spencer October 20, 2011 at 06:09 PM
It is a shame that BHUSD is spending general fund monies that are badly needed for classes & teachers salaries also repairing & upgrading their facilities on websites, attorneys, advocates etc to present their views. It appears that BHUSD wants it ‘their way or no way’. Will a future administration see this as a misappropriation of funds? Now that the technology and safety findings have been duly studied and agreed to by experts in the field - Is there a way for BHUSD and Metro to work things out? I sincerely hope so.
LAofAnaheim October 20, 2011 at 06:22 PM
Nope. It's the discussion about tunnels and stations being safe or unsafe. Don't twist the words of the engineers. Nobody said high rises are in danger due to these specific faults. Plus, all those insurance companies who insure those high rises would have had their own safety studies done on builldings. This is regarding the issue of where to tunnel and where to build a station.
Joe L October 20, 2011 at 06:48 PM
John Mirisch wrote: "To suggest that there is "scientific data" and it's cut-and-dried is to ignore the history of science and discovery." To suggest that unsupported emotion-based claims are just as valid as published scientific findings is truly ignorant. If you have a science-based study that makes counter-claims, let's see it. Let's not make unsupported attacks on each other's integrity (as you are doing to Metro's experts). Rather, let's compare historical data, geotechnical data and analytical techniques to see who is telling the truth.
John Mirisch October 20, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Actually, LAOA, go back to the tape of the Metro meeting yesterday: Lucy Jones did say that buildings in the pink zone would be restricted to 4 stories. A subway station along Santa Monica built with modern technologies and to current safety standards would clearly be safer than a high rise on that fault. Think about it logically: it's not as if a fault is going to differentiate between a high rise and a station box. The station is nothing more than a subterranean building. Insurance companies may have done "their studies" but they can no more ignore this new science than Metro. Existing buildings are "grandfathered" (meaning they won't be red-tagged), but that doesn't make them any safer. People in those buildings should be alerted to the potential dangers, perhaps with signs in the same way people are warned about potential chemicals when they enter buildings. And very clearly, building new high-rises along the length of the fault would be precluded and should be precluded if you accept Metro's science. Unless, of course, you think that the lives of commuters in a station are more valuable than office workers or residents of a high-rise. As we Swedes say, "If you say 'A,' you have to say 'B.'" Very interesting development for those of us that oppose overdevelopment and all of the impacts it creates. It does show that clouds indeed can have silver linings.
John Mirisch October 20, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Joe, I'm simply referring to the way things work in LA in which the desired results of EIR's can be bought and where spin rules the day, also fueled by the mother's milk of money. LA is a pay to play kind of place. That's just reality. This attitude is not an attack on anyone's integrity, but rather cynicism about a system which has let the people down time and time again and in which some politicians are the ones that often seem to be without integrity. Metro Director Mike Antonovich said it best when he described the process like a pro wrestling match, where everybody knows the outcome before the match begins. Science-based counter-claims may yet indeed surface (they would hardly be possible on the day the reports were released with no advance information provided even to Metro directors). However, I am using logic rather than "unsupported emotion-based claims" to suggest there are multiple ways to interpret scientific data and that data can change (this in response to jila). It's very simple: if "stunning" advances in technology have allowed us now to tunnel, where it previously was unsafe and if these "advances in technology" allow us to deal with potentially explosive methane at Constellation, then it stands to reason that there will be "stunning" technological and engineering advances which will also deal with the current safety concerns and render "safe" that which the experts now suggest is "unsafe."
HollywoodF1 October 21, 2011 at 06:11 AM
John, the mapping of faults does indeed have different implications for subsurface structures than it does above ground. The problems are primarily associated with the construction phase, not the service phase. Passing a TBM through a fault zone, though still potentially problematic, is not nearly the problem that building large-span stations is in such a zone. Note that these are not Alqist-Priolo zones; the faulting does not rise to that level. As such, unlike A-P zones, building on the surface is still legal and advisable, albeit within the limits that you recall having been prescribed by the geotechnical engineer in the case of this study.
HollywoodF1 October 21, 2011 at 06:50 AM
John, it's only very simple to you because you lack the civil engineering education to understand the breadth and depth of the problem. Is your argument is that we should shelve the project until we develop new technologies? We have them now. We could build it almost anywhere we wanted. We actually have numerous solutions to this particular problem. We would simply have to cancel a number of other stations and miles of tunnel to fund it. My professional opinion as a civil engineer– follow the advice of the professional reports. A second opinion won't make the faults disappear, and faulted geology will remain a more costly and hazardous location in which to construct a large-span station structure. It's basic physics; much more so than your methane abatement problem, and despite cursory appearances, not analogous at all from a cost-feasibility standpoint.
joninla October 21, 2011 at 07:28 AM
FIRST AND TO EVERYONE - I AM SORRY FOR THE MISUNDERSTANDING I CAUSED AND TO THE INCORRECT (reverse) opinions appearing to be what I meant. My concern is any delay, or even any further attempt to delay the project as planned under BHHS and the Constellation stop in the middle of Century City. When the first rumors of tunneling under BHHS and the enormous outcry from people fearing both the unknown and whatever else their imaginations would come up with, I just thought that when actually planned, it would end up being so much more desirable for the people who's very premature fears, that rational thought could break through and no attempt to stop the tunnel would exist. Unfortunately, as the local story was the never ending reasons this "Bruckner" woman and now apparently Mr. Ellis have been reported, I could not help but to point out the flaw. The vibrations under homes was not a concern, then the whole Preservation of the irreplacable Historic BHHS, who's fragile walls were especially prone to certain collapse from the tunnel. I pointed out that based on what I have seen, the L.A. tunnels are in the rage of incredibly deep to actual ear popping from the pressure at one point, all the arguments about preserving and protecting BHHS were totally unwarranted. Next I read things about Bruckner making a scene and appeared to be carrying a French Revolutionary Belief - "that tunnel over my deal body" .....
joninla October 21, 2011 at 07:41 AM
Page 2 I was so outraged that a woman who is on or wants to be a BH SCHOOL BOARD OFFICIAL was taking educational funds to fight not only an severly irrational position, but for her to have any participation (even if there were something to her fears) was totally inappropriate. The School Board is the body for educational governing and unless this Bruckner woman was elected to a Transportation Official, she should be barred from the Transportation's jurisdiction and if she is mixing any of her Professional School Board authority on Transportation issue, she should be brought up on charges and removed from office. From yesterday to today, a Mr. Ellis very seriously directed the latest absurd reason to stop a very necessary and very good choice for the new subway line. He had 'walked' the line the tunnel would go under and apparently his horror at his perception about the route became moot when learning there would be not one, but two tunnels under BHHS. Having forgotten the initial collapsing home fears, and the residential destruction and now the preservation of the Delicate and Architectural Master Piece (aka BHHS), the new outrage and reason these people have is the inability for BHHS to do a not even on the table plans to completely renovate the OLD & TOO SMALL original buildings, as the massive imaginary future plans (according to Mr Ellis) will need massive foundations which tunnel would make impossible.
John Mirisch October 21, 2011 at 07:44 AM
No, Hollywood, I'm not an engineer, but I do know a thing or two about policy. The panel of Metro experts categorically ruled out the possibility that a Santa Monica station -- any SM station -- could be built safely now. If they felt such technologies as you describe were available, then it would have been their duty to discuss them and quantify just what the cost would be to implement them. That's their job. Their job is not to make decisions, but to give the policy-makers all the information, including cost and technology. I understand how the system works and what staff and experts roles are. My argument is not to shelve the project, but to poke a hole in the "it's impossible" positioning. By the time the subway reaches Century City -- with 30-10 becoming more and more unlikely -- there may be more effective and affordable technologies (analogous to the "stunning" recent advances in TBM technology) which can be taken on board in making a policy decision. If, leaving out cost, Metro's experts are unaware of the current technologies you speak of, then it would make sense to question their qualifications. Without seismic abatement, the SM alignment would be some $100 million less expensive than Constellation. If abatement were less than $100 million, then it still might be good policy to pick SM because of reduced travel time. Basic physics also talks about the shortest distance between two points.
joninla October 21, 2011 at 07:57 AM
P3 My misunserstood criticism was meant to say "I hope Beverly Hills City Council IS NOT going to further delay this project becuase of some nutts who I think have really gone beyond belief with the latest but I am sure not last stupid reason to try and stop the subway line. All your raving claims of utter stupidity directed towards me may be true about many things, but I am in total agreement with what you said as it applies to Bruckner and Mr. Ellise as I have read to believe THEY are serious threats being made by those two to affect the CITY COUNCIL from just proceeding and not addressing any more of the nonsense the people I don't know. I am very sorry to whomever wants to prevent anything from delaying this project and thought I was in opposion. I hope there is not one single noticed meeting that would not be necessary but for some growing mob of irrational people who must have some kind of other motive to be making such crazy, irrational and totally contradictory to their initial 'Grieveous Catastropy Inevitiblity' from tunneling to now an inability to let BHHS turn its outdated and impossible to use facilites into a what sounds like a 'CIty Center Project' but for BHHS. I know nothing, but even I know tunneling has rencenly made such vast improvements in technology, that saftey issues are almost a thing of the past. But I do take responsibilty for the misuderstanding. I recently has a minor stroke and lost the ability to communcate clearly in witing.
joninla October 21, 2011 at 10:10 AM
Very well said and focusing on the real tragedy going on. I would not suggest you go too many rounds trying to point out and rationally explain the endless number of crazy reasons these people keep coming up with to derail the much needed 'rail' for the whole so cal transit region I tried over months of stories reporting each "Concern and Panic" that have been made against this very good route. All I ended up doing was to get mistaken here as "One Of The Crazies" and I so regret it ending up offending the very people working so hard to stop this nonsense and get the subway completed as soon as possible. I fear my inability to clear enough, may have almost drove at least one of the Good Guys, nearer to the edge of complete frustration.
John Mirisch October 21, 2011 at 02:48 PM
H-wood F1: Dr. Lucy Jones would seem to disagree with you. Indeed, the diagrammed pink zone referenced below was a representation of a potential Alquist-Priolo zone. In fact, when asked by Metro board members about potential above-ground construction in this zone, she stated that dwellings with 4 or more units would likely not be permitted -- this falls directly in line with the current construction rules for A-P areas. For construction to be restricted along the fault, the state geological survey would first have to officially declare the fault area as an Alquist-Priolo zone, but in light of the dire descriptions from the scientists at the Metro meeting, that would seem most likely. In fact, the footings for some of the proposed skyscrapers are probably deeper than the station itself would be and the supposed dangers with constructing a station in a fault zone apply to an even greater extent with high-rise buildings. If anything, a sub-surface station could be constructed with modern bunker technology and it would be much less problematic in such a zone than a high-rise. Jones's expressed concern with locating a station in a fault zone had nothing to do with the construction phase (essentially cut-and-cover), but with the location of the station and the possibility that if a seismic event occurred, there are more likely to be people at a station than in a subway car at a fault somewhere along the tunnel. These concerns also apply to buildings on a fault line.

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