Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Westside Subway Extension On Track

Metro is making the rounds again to update the community on the progress of the Westside Subway Extension. I attended Monday evening's meeting at LACMA West in the Miracle Mile and I must say I was impressed by the presentation -- the speakers were clear and concise and the visually appealing slideshows provided facts and figures in an easy to follow format.

In my view these community meetings are the perfect antidote to the misinformation and rumors that sometimes start swirling around a project of this magnitude. If they aren't already, my suggestion would be to video tape each neighborhood meeting and post to YouTube so those that couldn't attend have a chance to be informed.

Right now the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) is evaluating five locally preferred alternatives that will be voted on by the Metro Board of Directors and then submitted to the federal government for New Starts Project funding.

The first two alternatives are within the current funding constraints -- One would be an extension of the Purple Line underground heavy rail line from Wilshire/Western to UCLA/Westwood and Two would be the same project but with an added stop at the VA Hospital on the other side of the 405.

Alternatives three, four and five are more desirable but do not have the funding yet. Alternative three would extend the subway into Santa Monica and alternative four adds a rail line from the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station down Santa Monica Boulevard through West Hollywood and links up with the Purple Line at Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevards in Beverly Hills.

Alternative five is the dream utopian project that not only extends the Purple Line all the way to the Pacific Ocean but also includes the West Hollywood extension. (Note: Click on the slides to view a larger version)

Right now the $4.2 billion from Measure R and matching grants from the federal government would build out the subway in three phases over 30 years. Of course the widely publicized efforts by Mayor Villaraigosa to build all 12 Measure R projects in ten years instead of 30 would allow the entire line to be built in one phase.

In addition to working with the federal government to accelerate the funds for the 30/10 Initiative, Metro spokesperson Jody Litvak told the crowd at LACMA that they are investigating Public-Private Partnership options --  an encouraging sign for securing funding to speed up the project.

Litvak explained to the audience that the Westside is L.A.'s "second downtown." There are over 300,000 people a day that come into the Westside every morning.

She also showed a slide that gave figures on how the subway will slash commuting times to West L.A. from around the region. The biggest difference would be the commute from Koreatown. Today it takes 36 minutes to travel to Westwood/UCLA from Koreatown. With the subway it would take only 14 minutes, a 61% decrease for a total of eight days saved a year.

And it was clearly explained why heavy rail was chosen over other options such as light rail or monorail. Heavy rail can carry about 14,000 passengers an hour versus 7,600 for light rail, 6,300 for monorail and only 1,800 for Bus Rapid Transit which is what the Wilshire Corridor has today.

Litvak and Project Director David Mieger had a lot more to say about the Westside Subway Extension but rather than summarize every talking point I've provided some other key slides from the presentation. If the slide is too small to read click on it for a larger version. Click here to see all 41 slides.


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