Los Angeles County’s top transportation board has voted to reject claims by Beverly Hills that it would be dangerous to build a subway tunnel under the city's storied high school, and move forward with the plan.
The project would continue the Purple Line subway from its current endpoint in Hollywood to Westwood, along a route that would require digging under the school. Stations would be built in Century City at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, at Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards near UCLA and near the Veterans Administration hospital between I-405 and Bonsall Ave.
Parents and officials in Beverly Hills have opposed the plan, posting dueling videos on Youtube about it and bringing in experts to testify against it.
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The city says underground methane could explode in the tunnel, endangering students and teachers at the school. Opponents are expected to file a lawsuit opposing the plan.
But engineers for Metro say the tunnel would be safe.
MTA spokesman Marc Littman said Thursday's approval meant that the transportation agency could begin to seek federal funds for the project. Work on the first phase, from the current endpoint at Wilshire Blvd. and Western Ave. to La Cienega Blvd., could begin in about a year.
Littman said that a lawsuit by Beverly Hills or other opponents could slow down the process considerably. But, he said, the segment between Wilshire/Western and La Cienega might proceed even as lawyers wrangle over later phases of the project.