On October 22, the Metro Board of Directors approved a long-range transit plan that will guarantee funding for the long-awaited Westside subway extension. At the same time, Santa Monicans attended one of a series of meetings held by Metro, where locals discussed the details of station locations and entrances, in this case, the projected Santa Monica stations at Wilshire/Bundy, Wilshire and 15th/16th Street, and Wilshire/4th Street.
Metro Project Director David Mieger and Regional Communications director Jody Litvak summarized the building process, which is currently in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIS/R) stage. Mieger said that Metro hopes to have drafted a report by next summer and be able to select a “locally preferred alternative” (route) by August or September of 2010. The final environmental impact report should be done by 2011.
If construction begins on time, the subway will reach Century City by 2026 and Westwood by 2036. This part of the route is funded by Measure R. More funding will be needed to build “the subway to the sea.”
Litvak explained the types of subway stations and what factors are considered in their placement. Station types include standard (one platform for trains in both directions), transfer (possibly more than one platform for access to two or more train lines), and “over-under” stations with platforms on two levels. The average “station box” is 60 feet by 600 feet, and 60 feet below the surface, with a longer “box” needed for stations with “crossover” tracks, particularly “end” stations (the last station on the line) which need extra length in order for the trains to turn around.
Entrances for the stations can be located in open areas with fanciful designs, or can be incorporated into existing buildings, concurrently constructed buildings, or have future developments built around them. Some stations will have only one entrance; others will have two.
These options were examined further when the meeting broke into smaller groups to discuss projected stations. This reporter listened to a discussion of the Wilshire/4th station, which will serve the downtown area of Santa Monica and will be the “last stop” on the Westside line.
As an “end station,” Wilshire/4th will need a longer box. “It will be between 4th and 5th Street, which gives enough space and will allow for crossover tracks without falling into the Pacific Ocean,” said Litvak.
The Wilshire/4th station will probably need two entrances. Community members urged that these entrances be located on both sides of Wilshire (north and south). They also wanted disabled access and were reminded by the group facilitator that disabled access “is the law.”
The Wilshire/4th stop will be a few blocks from the ocean-a short walk, although some people wanted something that would connect them to the beach ( a shuttle?) and also a short walk to the Expo Light Rail line terminus at 4th and Colorado. However, connecting the two lines will not be financially possible.
All considerations are pending the availability of funding. But as Litvak pointed out: “A year ago, there was no money (for the project). The world changes. I don’t know how it’s going to happen in the future, but we have to go ahead and plan this.”
For more information, call 213.922.6934 or go to the Facebook page “Metro Westside Subway Extension.”