Metro has begun the process of preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) and part of the process includes exploratory drilling in Santa Monica to assess the conditions below ground.
The exploratory drilling will help Metro determine what engineering strategies will need to be used to construct the subway’s underground tunnels and stations. This will be done by analyzing soil samples. Metro’s Manager of Community Relations, Jody Litvak, explained to the Mirror that Metro has been drilling at 70 locations throughout the Westside and Santa Monica is one of the last locations to be drilled in.
Wilshire Boulevard at 25th Street, 16th Street, and 5th Street were the three locations where drilling has been occurring this week. The locations were chosen based approximately on where Metro is expecting to place the stations for the subway. Right now, stations are projected to be placed at Wishire Boulevard and 26th Street, 16th Street, and 4th Street. Some parking lane and traffic disruption has been caused by the work. Litvak mentioned that so far Metro “hasn’t found anything unexpected” in the drilling that it has completed.
According to Metro documents, the Draft EIS/EIR purpose is to study the potential effects of the Westside Subway Extension “during construction and once it is operating, and also to evaluate measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate any adverse impacts.” This process will include the refinement of project alternatives, define Wilshire Boulevard segments, future segments, specify station details, “examine the cost effectiveness of various segments, and evaluate the timing and funding of a future project.” The study will also look at the entire Santa Monica alignment with and without a West Hollywood component.
Litvak stated that the Draft EIS/EIR should be released for public input in the summer of 2010. The Metro Board will then adopt the draft and the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). The LPA will define the project that will be examined in the Final EIS/EIR process and the project that will be funded by federal matching funds. Another year will be needed after that to complete the EIS/EIR.
The next round of community meetings for the project will be scheduled in early to mid October. Theses meetings will be tailored to the location where they are held so that the community can give input on the planning and urban design around the stations. They will also include updates on the project.
Further information on the Westside Subway Extension can be found at metro.net/Westside or on Facebook at “Metro Westside Subway Extension.”