The Metro Red Line was supposed to extend much further west. Tunneling in the Fairfax area in 1985 literally led to an explosion at the Ross store on 3rd Street, which, in turn, caused a political explosion. Congressman Harry Waxman threw up every political barrier he knew to assure that no federal funding would support the construction of the subway because Westside residents feared that
the subway would bring non-white people into their neighborhoods too easily construction might cause more explosions. The result was a ban on tunneling through the Westside, and with that, the Red Line’s western route died.
It’s amazing what a little congestion can do to change people’s minds. Waxman now has become a champion of lifting the Red Line tunneling ban. It turns out that Westside residents don’t really like sitting in their cars any more than the rest of us, so they now support the westward extension of the subway in the hope that everyone else will ride it and ease their drives to work.
County Supervisor Yaroslavsky, who led the effort to ban the use local sales tax money for tunneling, has changed his tune too. No one said the ban couldn’t be used for everything else except tunneling in building the Red Line extension (our paraphrasing)!
There’s still a long way to go before the western extension of the Red Line becomes a reality. We’re banking on being old and senile before it happens (and collectively, we’re only 22). This one wants Gold Line extension into the San Gabriel Valley. That one wants more buses. For the time being, get used to the Westside clusterf***.
· In Reversal, Waxman Seeks to Repeal Ban on Red Line Tunneling [L.A. Times]