Geologists hired by the Beverly Hills Unified School District argued Thursday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is using to support a subway route that requires tunneling under Beverly Hills High School to reach Century City.
The controversial route is part of the proposed Westside Subway Extension, an expansion of the Purple Line to Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
The allegations that Metro is were made during a public hearing before Metro's Board of Directors. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who chairs the board, said the purpose of the hearing was to allow Beverly Hills the chance to present evidence and testimony regarding its opposition to tunneling under BHHS.
The board took no action after the hearing. A decision on the subway's route to the Century City stop may be made at its next regular meeting on May 24 or at a later date, Villaraigosa said.
Citing BHUSD and city-commissioned studies, Beverly Hills City Attorney Larry Wiener told the board that it needs more complete data "to make an informed decision" on where to place the subway.
"We heard it appears that the West Beverly Hills Lineament is not a fault. It appears that there is strong evidence that the Santa Monica Boulevard Lineament...is not an active fault," Wiener told the board. "There has been no risk analysis, not a quantitative risk analysis, not even a qualitative risk analysis, that compares the risks of going under Santa Monica Boulevard or having a station at Santa Monica Boulevard versus tunneling under Beverly Hills High School."
Beverly Hills' city and school district officials to avoid routing the subway under the high school. The Westside Subway Extension's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/R) recommends tunneling under BHHS to reach a station on Constellation Boulevard in Century City.
"Right now we'll know what impact, if any, we've had on the MTA directors based on their vote next Thursday, May 24, when they decide on the alignment for Century City—whether it's Santa Monica Boulevard or Constellation," BHUSD Board of Education President Brian Goldberg told Patch. "After that, we'll have no choice if they continue to want to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School, than to go to court and seek a fair hearing on our issues and our concerns with that."
Leighton Consulting, Inc., which was hired by BHUSD, conducted detailed studies that conflict with Metro's consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, suggesting that there are no active faults under BHHS or Santa Monica Boulevard, as Parsons' study concluded.
"By having Leighton present the scientific data, it appears that there's a tremendous discrepancy between what Parsons Brinckerhoff and Leighton are both concluding," Beverly Hills Councilman Barry Brucker told Patch. "It's clear also that Leighton conducted the most comprehensive testing, which is the trenching testing. It leads us to believe that maybe Parsons Brinckerhoff may not have had all the data to make the conclusions that it did make."
Eldon Gath, a geologist and engineer with Earth Consultants International who was hired by BHUSD, told the board that Parsons' study ignored obvious data found by digging trenches on the campus and presented inexplicable findings about the location of faults underneath the school.
"It's not science," Gath told the board. "It feels like it's paradigm-driven and opinion-driven, and maybe a bit of arrogance thrown in."
Robert McMurry from Gilchrist & Rutter, who was commissioned by the city of Beverly Hills, presented the board with three alternative routes for reaching a station on Constellation Boulevard without tunneling under BHHS.
County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who sits on the Metro board, blamed Villaraigosa for not allowing consideration of alternative routes.
"The mayor and his friends are trying to jam through an alignment that does not meet the needs of the community," Antonovich told City News Service. "We have alternative alignments that are being presented today that need to be considered."
Villaraigosa's senior press secretary, Peter Sanders, said he had no comment.
The Metro board approved plans in late April for the first phase of the $5.6 billion Westside Subway Extension, but so it can consider Beverly Hills' objections to tunneling under BHHS.
"I think that the hearing allowed us to provide a scientific assessment of our data publicly to the Metro board and compare it to the data that was produced by Parsons Brinckerhoff, and basically show that their science was not based on an in-depth study," Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien told Patch. "The studies we've presented today are clearly far more in-depth, raise continued safety questions, and don't adequately assess or rule out the ability to use an alternative alignment."
This report was compiled with information from City News Service.