The Westside Subway extension project is moving closer. At Santa Monica’s latest meeting on plans for the subway, Director of Regional Communications Jody Litvak and Project Director David Mieger gave an update to interested Santa Monicans.
Litvak summarized the recently completed “scoping phase” in which feedback was collected on transportation preferences. The results show that there is overwhelming support for a subway, people want the subway to be built as quickly as possible, and people want the subway connected to existing and future rail projects.
There is concern, however, about subway construction – its effect on traffic, impact of tunneling under private property, and station area parking.
Litvak amusingly donned an orange subway worker vest to explain how subways are constructed using TBMS (tunnel boring machines). The most disruptive part of building a subway is when a street must be opened to put the boring machines in and take the dirt out. The newest TBMS, said Litvak, maintain pressure in the surrounding earth, reducing the risk of settlement.
Mieger explained that the main route alternatives being considered are: a route under Wilshire Boulevard all the way from the current Purple Line terminus at Wilshire and Western, to Santa Monica at Wilshire and 4th Street, and a Wilshire/West Hollywood extension that will include a spur from Hollywood and Highland station that will go through West Hollywood and reconnect with the Wilshire line in Beverly Hills.
Studies indicate that stations are needed at Century City (but a location at Avenue of the Stars has been ruled out due to the problem of tunneling under the golf course nearby); at Westwood (again, a location at UCLA has been ruled out due to problems with tunneling under the nearby Veteran’s Cemetery and construction impacts in Westwood Village); and in West Los Angeles, where one or two stations are needed between Westwood and Bundy.
Over the next year, Mieger concluded, more studies will be made to come up with the “locally preferred alternative,” as well as decisions about the “minimum operable segments” that can be built. Funding is still an issue, as Measure R will provide money for only 17 miles of subway, so more federal aid is needed.
“We have to compete with cities all over the country,” said Mieger. “So we have to show cost effectiveness.” He noted that the completion of the Metro Expo Line further south, but also terminating in Santa Monica, may lessen the need for a second rail line to the sea.
During the public comment that followed, many residents expressed support for the Westside Subway. However, Damian Goodman, a transportation activist who has been critical of the building of the Expo Line, wanted to know if other options, such as elevated trains, had been considered, and if environmental justice (impact on minority communities) was being kept in mind.
Litvak replied to Goodman’s first question, that yes, other options had been studied, but didn’t fit, given the real estate costs. As for environmental justice, Mieger promised that this will be a part of the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Study).
More information can be found at metro.net/Westside.