Subway to the Sea Moving Right Along

Are we finally getting to the good part in planning the Subway to the Sea (aka Westside Extension of the Purple Line)? Metro is holding a series of community meetings to share the latest news since the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report process started in April, and there was firm-ish talk of station locations and construction arrangements. Curbed was at last night's West Hollywood meeting, where Metro's Jody Litvak and David Mieger presented updates and heard from community members. (First shot: Wilshire Blvd, peeled back. At Fairfax)

While the Draft EIS/EIR will look at a total Santa Monica Boulevard alignment, the presentation focused on the much more favored Wilshire alignment. Stations along that line are confirmed for Western, La Brea, Fairfax, Beverly Drive, and 26th, 16th, and 4th in Santa Monica. The Crenshaw station is still a possibility. Here's what's up for debate:

1. Century City Station - Metro considered three options for Century City: Santa Monica, Constellation, and Avenue of the Stars. That last option has been tossed because it would have required changing the alignment of the route, but Santa Monica and Constellation are still possibilities.

2. Westwood Station - Ideas for stations at Westwood and LeConte were thrown out, but now there's a new potential site under a UCLA-owned parking lot on Wilshire near Gayley. That's competing with a different, on-street Westwood option.

3. West LA Stations - The original plan was for a Bundy station, but now Metro is considering a VA Hospital stop and one at Barrington. Bundy and a Federal stop are no longer in play. *Actually, Bundy is just being punted and will be considered for the Santa Monica phase.

4. West Hollywood Alignment - Metro is recommending a San Vicente alignment down from the Red Line, rather than the La Cienega alignment that was also considered. There are also two possible locations for the Wilshire/La Cienega station--a previously-proposed spot right at the intersection, and a new proposal between La Cienega and Robertson that would make it easier for passengers to head east from the West Hollywood line. Two commenters were concerned about the San Vicente/Beverly stop on the West Hollywood segment. They asked for a more pedestrian-friendly location than right on the intersection.

Litvak also talked about construction details. As we know, soil sampling has already begun and will end by the end of this month. For the actual subway, they'll use high tech tunnel boring machines that maintain pressure as they drill, and station locations will be dug out, then decked over so that streets can stay open while the stations are built. Total construction time for stations should be 48-54 months. In response to comments, Litvak and Mieger said there is still the possibility for two-level stations on the westside that could one day connect with a Valley line.

One commenter asked, if everything goes according to plan, "When can I take a ride to the beach?" Litvak didn't have an answer for that, but she could say that the Draft EIS/EIR process is scheduled to end next summer. After the public review, Metro will settle on a Locally Preferred Alternative, their final recommendation for a route and plan, in late 2010, and then take another year for a Final EIS/EIR. Right now they're estimating final design and construction will start sometime in early 2012. The total cost is estimated at $9 billion, with about $4.1 billion coming from Measure R.

Metro is holding three more meetings for these updates, if you want to see it all for yourself.

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