John Cadiz Klemack
The Metro board heard from critics of its Westside Subway Extension plan, which would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. PTA members say they are not opposed to the subway, but don't want it under the high school. John Cadiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 6pm on May 17, 2012.
Westside residents worried about a Metro plan that would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High to construct a planned subway extension were given a hearing all their own Thursday afternoon.
"I want to trust the science on both sides and I want it evaluated," said Susie Roberts with Beverly Hills School PTA.
At the request of the city of Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board held a special public hearing to allow critics of a proposed Westside Subway extension path to voice their concerns and present an alternate vision.
"We as Beverly Hills residents are absolutely not opposed to a subway in any way, shape or form; we just don’t want it under the high school jeopardizing the safety of the kids," said Jennifer Terrell-Schwartz with Beverly Hills School PTA.
At issue is the location of a planned underground Century City station.
A Constellation Boulevard location, favored by Metro staff, would require tunneling 50 to 70 feet beneath Beverly Hills High.
Critics of that plan, including mothers from the high school who released a dramatic YouTube video about the issue last month, want a different location on Santa Monica Boulevard. Metro consultants and earthquake experts say that site would be unsafe because it would put the subway stop on top of a fault line, but Beverly Hills representatives have disputed those findings.
"The people against it want to move it for a political agenda. But that’s our people that’s gonna be in that tunnel," said Robbie Hunter with LA/OC Building & Construction Trades Council.
"If they move it a half mile away, we’re still the ones who’s going to be doing the work so it doesn’t mean anything to us other than the safest location."
Supporters of Metro's plan this week put out their own video, a satire mocking Beverly Hills' stance.
Metro spokesman Marc Littman said the board will be focused on how the subway will offer public transit to Century City, an employment center and an area with vehicle traffic congestion.
"The gist of what's concerned here is: How do you serve Century City?" Littman said.
The Metro board last month approved an environmental report for the Westside Subway extension from Wilshire/Western to Westwood, but chose to postpone voting on its path to reach the final four stations of the seven-station addition. A 3.9-mile, three-station extension to La Cienega Boulevard was the only portion approved last month.
The long-anticipated "Subway to the Sea" would end several miles from the ocean, growing the existing Purple Line. It is expected to cost $5.6 billion.
Littman said that – after Thursday's meeting – the board may vote as early as next week on the alignment serving the additional four stations, as well as on the location of the Century City stop. He said board members would at that time weigh evidence presented by Beverly Hills representatives.