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Metro Staff Recommends Westside Subway to Go West of 405 Fwy, West Hollywood Spur Left Out

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Metro staff recommended Alternative 2, which terminates at the Veterans Administration | Map via Metro

Metro staff recommended Alternative 2, which terminates at the Veterans Administration | Map via Metro
Transit planners at Metro today released their recommendations (.pdf) for the Westside Subway extension, and for many, the preferred alternative is no surprise. A nine-mile route from Koreatown to the Veteran's Administration, just west of the 405 Freeway, was chosen, but preference for some hotly debated sections, such as tunneling under Beverly Hills, were carried forward for further study. Ultimately, the decision will be in the hands of Metro's Board of Directors, who are expected to decide upon the issue at their October 28th meeting.

The $4 billion alternative to the Veterans Administration building was always seen as the most realistic direction because it stood with the best chances, based on ridership/distance/budget formulas, at earning funding from the federal government. Extending the Purple Line to there would boost ridership by some 80,000 trips daily, about 8,000 more than if the subway terminated at UCLA (a $3.7 billion project). If the train was extended into Santa Monica and near the ocean, trips would have been upped to 105,000 (but at the cost of $5.7 billion).

One major upset for some was that a proposed spur through West Hollywood -- often referred to as the Pink Line -- did not make the cut. With it, a subway system that stops at the V.A. would see 93,000 trips ($6.7 billion) daily and 120,000 if it headed into Santa Monica ($8.4 billion).

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Additional bad news for a West Hollywood spur came with another recommendation that said Metro should not build a $135 million connection structure in anticipation of the line's construction in the future. "The rationale is that such a structure is expensive and it remains uncertain at this time if a subway will ever be built between Hollywood and Beverly Hills through West Hollywood," noted Steve Hymon at Metro's in-house blog.

Although there is no money designated for it, there has been a suggestion that a light rail line (possibly a northern extension of the planned Crenshaw Line) someday could fill in that gap.

Other recommendations include not building a station at Wilshire and Crenshaw (low density, too close to the Wilshire and Western station), a large station at Fairfax to accommodate visitors to LACMA and a station on the eastside of La Cienega to provide better access to commercial buildings in Beverly Hills.

Some decisions, however, were pushed for further study. The most controversial one is the Century City station. Placing a station within the commercial district at Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Avenue would boost ridership and increase chances of federal funding, but put the subway tunnel under some Beverly Hills homes and the city's namesake high school. Beverly Hills residents have been united in opposing such a route, urging a station at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars at the edge of Century City.

Other decisions delayed include station locations in Westwood/UCLA and at the V.A.

The public can still make on-the-record comments about the project through October 18th via a variety of methods, including an online comment form. For the record: an earlier version of this post said on-the-record comments could be made throgh Metro's Facebook page. That was incorrect and has since been fixed.

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