Thursday, October 28, 2010

Metro Board Approves Westside Subway Route


In a unanimous 10-0 vote with one abstention, the Metro Board of Directors today voted to approve extending the Purple Line subway from its current terminus at Wilshire/Western to the VA Hospital in Westwood, just off the 405 freeway.

According to Metro's The Source blog, the 9.5 mile underground heavy rail route would take about 25 minutes to travel from downtown to the VA Hospital, cutting travel time in half from a typical bus or car drive from the biggest job center in L.A. County (downtown) to the second-biggest job center (the Westside).

Now it gets tricky because the placement of each stop must be approved next and there could be a nasty legal battle on hand from Beverly Hills residents if the alternative Constellation and Avenue of the Stars route is chosen over Santa Monica Boulevard. It would take the station closer to the heart of Century City but also tunnel under homes and a school. Metro and other subway experts have argued that tunneling under homes and schools is 100% safe and has been done successfully already in Los Angeles and countless other cities with virtually no problems and minimum disruption to residents and students.

The Board also approved a route for the Downtown Regional Connector which will create seamless transfers between the different train lines that run through downtown.

More from The Source:

"The Westside Subway Extension is among a dozen transit projects to be funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in Nov. 2008. Without the $4.2 billion provided by Measure R, the subway extension would not be possible.

The Board also voted to launch a final environmental study and preliminary engineering of the project, which will take place over the next year. The target date for the beginning of construction is 2013. Metro hopes that selecting a route will help secure federal New Starts money to help build the project in next year’s federal budget. The estimated cost of the project in 2009 dollars is about $4.36 billion, but it will likely cost more depending on the year built and inflation.

The opening date of the project depends on different funding scenarios.

With a mix of Measure R funds and New Starts dollars, Metro plans to open the subway in three phases: to Fairfax Avenue in 2019, Century City in 2026 and Westwood in 2036.

If additional federal loans and other financing can be obtained — a plan called the 30/10 Initiative to speed the construction of Measure R projects — the entire subway would be built at once and would open to Westwood in 2022. It remains to be seen whether segments could be opened earlier."

Here is the map of the route provided by The Source. Click on it for a larger version:


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