Stations, Construction, Parking: Westside Subway Meeting Dispatch

Last night was the fourth meeting in the latest round of public scoping gatherings for the extension of the Purple Line subway, which is now in the midst of an environmental study, one of the necessary steps before construction. Last night's meeting at the Presbyterian Church on Westwood updated the public on the status of the mega-project and issues like station placement, parking, and construction, all things being considered by the folks conducting the draft environmental report, which should be completed in a little over a year. After that is engineering, design, construction, and finally transit service; construction could begin in 2013, and service to Fairfax Avenue could start in 2016. But many things remain undecided, and these meetings provide an opportunity for the public to weigh in (there's two more this week). In the meantime, don't be alarmed if you soon witness contractors conducting soil boring operations.

The two subway options being studied:
-A straight shot down Wilshire, save for a stop in Century City ($6.1 billion)
-Same as above, but a WeHo spur that runs along Santa Monica Boulevard, and down either La Cienega or San Vicente Boulevards ($9 billion)

Measure R will provide about $4 billion for the project, which will pay to start the extension, a project that will open in phases. Those phases:
-If everything goes as planned, construction could begin in 2013 and an extension to Fairfax could open by 2016.
-The next phase would bring the subway to Century City; no timetable yet because federal/state funding most likely needed for this part.
-Third phase would bring the subway near or past the 405. The hope is to build Westwood and a West LA station, with the thought that a West LA station will get people from Santa Monica to take the subway, since most wouldn't drive to the Westwood station, which would require crossing the congested 405 area
-Fourth phase could build out the WeHo line and connect it to the Purple Line in Beverly Hills
-The other alternatives are building out the entire "subway to the sea" with a terminus on 4th Street, near the 3rd Street Promenade, and near the Expo Line terminus
-The dream alternative is a full "subway to the sea" that includes the WeHo spur

Jody Litvak, who handles regional communications for the extension, discussed some interesting points:
-The Crenshaw station might get the boot; right now it's being studied whether it's necessary
-The West LA station was always thought to be at Bundy, now Barrington and Wilshire is being considered since it's more high-density
-The Century City station may be on Santa Monica Blvd., or closer to the heart of Century City
-Westwood station will either be on Wilshire or closer to UCLA campus
-A WeHo station could either be at Santa Monica Blvd. and La Cienega, or Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente
-Decking will probably be used on Wilshire during construction, meaning a temporary road will be constructed (probably during the night and on weekends) that will allow vehicular traffic on Wilshire while the subway is being built underneath. This was used in the Red Line construction to Hollywood
-There will be quarterly updates until the final environmental report statement is issued in 2010, and then there will be station area planning meetings

Public comments:
-Almost universally positive and supportive. Suggestions included a big parking lot in Westwood. There was also a push for a 405 light-rail line that connects with the Purple Line.
-One woman was concerned about the water table under Wilshire, and still hoped the subway would follow Santa Monica Blvd. the entire way (probably not gonna happen).
-One guy produced his own map of his dream LA subway system and then went on to declare his love for Litvak, saying she just wants to help people by building the subway. It seemed at one point that he was going to propose to Litvak.

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