The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering building the first phase of the to a station at La Cienega and Wilshire boulevards, rather than the Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue stop as originally planned, according to Metro.
MTA staff proposed extending the initial construction by three-fourths of a mile to the Beverly Hills stop in a Feb. 15 memo prepared for Wednesday’s Metro Board of Directors Planning Committee agenda. Underground methane gas at the Fairfax Avenue stop, as well as issues related to underground fossils at the nearby La Brea tar pits, are leading the board to consider continuing on to La Cienega Boulevard for phase one.
“If the Wilshire/Fairfax station serves as the terminus for the first phase, the fully enclosed tunnel mining system would be required for both the first and second phases of construction, thereby unnecessarily increasing the complexity and cost of the second segment,” the memo reads.
Extending the initial construction to the La Cienega station—the first of two Beverly Hills stops—would add about a year to the originally planned 2019 timetable for opening the first part of the subway extension. It would increase the cost of the first phase of the project, but not the overall cost, the memo states.
Metro’s memo does not include any ridership projections, but ending the initial phase of the subway at La Cienega and Wilshire boulevards could draw business to the many restaurants on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
The Westside Subway Extension is a continuation of Metro’s Purple Line, which currently ends at Wilshire and Western boulevards. The extension would take the subway line through Beverly Hills to Century City and the Veterans Administration Medical Center west of the 405 Freeway. Beverly Hills opposes a proposal to under in order to put the Century City stop at Constellation Avenue.
A decision on the exact subway route and a timeline for completion “will be made as part of the [Metro board's] approval process for the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report, which is being finished and should be released soon,” according to Metro’s blog.
In related news, President Barack Obama’s proposed 2012-13 budget includes more than $50 million in funding for the Westside Subway Extension, Metro said. The $3.8 trillion federal budget, released Feb. 13, has been criticized by Republican lawmakers. It must be approved by both houses of Congress to become law.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who chairs the MTA board, praised the funding.
“President Obama’s proposed budget makes it more likely than ever that shovels could soon break ground on these transit improvements that will greatly expand connectivity throughout the L.A. region,” Villaraigosa said in a Feb. 13 MTA statement.
This report was compiled with information from City News Service.