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Despite Judge's Ruling, The Purple Line Is Still On Track, Says Metro

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Beverly Hills, thats where I want to be. (Photo by Ken Lund via the Creative Commons)
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It sounds like plans to extend the Purple Line to West L.A. are still on track, despite a recent ruling that said that Metro's environmental study for the project was incomplete, reports the L.A Times.

As we've noted in the past, the Purple Line is slated to add another 3.9 miles going west. Construction is in progress to extend the line beyond the stop at Wilshire and Western. New stops on Wilshire (at the intersections of La Brea, Fairfax, and La Cienega) should arrive by 2023.

There are plans, too, to add a stop on Rodeo in Beverly Hills, and to go further west into Century City and Westwood. These plans, however, hit a snag when it faced opposition from residents in Beverly Hills. Locals really, really didn't want a tunnel to be built underneath their neighborhood. They went as far as to say that, because the tunnel will run under Beverly Hills High School, ISIS might use the subway to kill our children. A tad dramatic, no?

Things got real when, in 2012, Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District sued the Federal Transit Administration. The FTA is responsible for green-lighting Metro's plans for the Purple Line Extensions; residents said that the agencies didn't account for all the variables when they conducted an environmental review for the project.

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On Friday, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu agreed and deemed portions of the review to be inadequate, reports KPCC. Chief among the complaints was that the study did not fully address the issues of tunneling in an area that has pockets of methane gas. The report also failed to explain the effects that construction would have on air quality and recreation areas on the high school campus, said Wu.

The ruling was a blow to Metro, but Wu stopped short of rejecting the review entirely, which would have added several more years to the project's timeline. Wu said that, to do a whole new environmental review (and thus delay the project), would be to cause a "domino effect" that could prevent the project from receiving grants and low-interest federal loans. He added that this could conspire to harm L.A.'s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

After the ruling, Metro said that their plans are still on track, even if they have to go back and redo some of the environmental review. A spokesperson said that the new sections of the environmental review will be done next spring—six months after that, construction will begin on the tunnel beneath Beverly Hills.

"Nothing that has been done in a legal case has affected the timeline for the Purple Line Extension," said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.

Weirdly, Metro isn't the only one that's happy with the ruling—their opponents are too. According to the Times, Beverly Hills Unified School District attorney Jennifer Recine said that the ruling was good because it forced the FTA and Metro to conduct further research that may end up being "superficial," which gives the school district another shot at litigation. That's a very roundabout way of thinking things, but OK.

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The Purple Line Extension is slated to cost $6.3 billion. It will be built in three phases. If all goes according to plans, the stretch from Koreatown to Miracle Mile will be completed in 2023. The extension to Beverly Hills and Century city will be done in 2026. And the section going to Westwood and West L.A. will be finished by 2035.