Westside Subway’s officially on its way
May 24, 2012
Despite threats of litigation from Beverly Hills, Metro’s board of directors sent the long-anticipated Westside Subway heading down the tracks on a route that includes a controversial station on Constellation Boulevard in Century City.
The Metro board, which had previously approved the subway’s first segment, voted Thursday to give final approval to the line’s second and third phases. When completed, the $5.6 billion subway will extend Metro’s Purple Line from Wilshire and Western to the Veteran’s Administration in West L.A.
“It will be the first mass rapid transportation project for Westwood and Beverly Hills and Century City and the Miracle Mile in history—something that the area has longed for for a very long time,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a member of the Metro board.
The board’s vote came over sharp objections from some Beverly Hills officials, including school board member Lisa Korbatov, who warned: “You’re careening headlong into a lawsuit…I’m telling you here and now: you will not succeed. We will stop you at every turn. You will be litigated.”
Beverly Hills officials have objected to the placement of the Constellation station because plans call for tunneling under the campus of Beverly Hills High School to get there. They argue that such tunneling could pose safety risks and interfere with future development on the school grounds—concerns that Metro says are unfounded.
Thursday’s landmark vote came a week after a special hearing in which Beverly Hills aired its objections to the subway plans, presented the findings of its own scientific consultants, and offered three alternate routes.
But Metro stood by its own experts, and said the Beverly Hills proposals for the alternate routes were not feasible.
Many members of the public showed up to support the project route that included the Constellation station. The first speaker got things going with an exhortation to “dig, baby, dig!”
The board voted 7-2 in favor of the project, with Michael D. Antonovich and John Fasana opposed. The vote clears the way for Metro to seek federal approvals to create final design and engineering plans for the project. Construction could begin as early as next year. Under the current timetable, the first phase of the project from Western Avenue to La Cienega would be completed by 2020, with the line reaching Century City in 2026 and Westwood in 2036. Efforts to accelerate that timetable are underway.
After the vote, Yaroslavsky said he still holds out hope that there can be “a meeting of the minds” between Metro and Beverly Hills.
“It’s a safe project,” Yaroslavsky said. “The people of Beverly Hills and the parents of the school kids in Beverly Hills should rest assured that this can be built without any jeopardy to that school and certainly to the kids in that school.”