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Metro's Subway Recommendations Out: Hello VA, See Ya Crenshaw

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It's taken three years of meetings and environmental studies, but Metro has finalized (some) of their recommendations for the Purple Line subway extension to the Westside, posted online as part of the Metro Board's agenda for its planning and Measure R committees, according to The Source. On October 28th the board will decide to select the locally preferred alternative recommended by Metro's subway staff, which includes ditching the Crenshaw station and building the line out to the VA hospital.

Metro staff is going with option 2, an approximately $4 billion plan which includes extending the subway nine miles from Western Avenue to the VA hospital, west of the 405. The only other option that current funding allows for would be to end the subway at Westwood, but the extension to the VA brings up ridership and cost-effectiveness of the project.

The Wilshire/Fairfax station "is recommended to be located at the east location adjacent to the cluster of cultural institutions surrounding the Los Angeles County Museum of Art," according to the recommendation. "There is strong community support for locating this station farther to the east so that better access and land use integration can be provided to this regional center."

The La Cienega station is recommended to be to the east of La Cienega, closer to commercial properties and San Vicente Blvd., which has it's own bus line.

An easterly alignment from the Century City to Westwood stops is being recommended, because it's shorter than a western alignment and passes under less homes than a central alignment.

The Crenshaw station is being dropped because the area is zoned for low density, Crenshaw dead-ends at Wilshire, and eliminating the station saves $153 million, and makes the whole project more cost-effective. Also mentioned is the Crenshaw Line, which if it connects to the Purple Line, would connect at La Brea or in Beverly Hills.

A connection structure at Robertson that would link together the subway with a potential West Hollywood subway spur is not being recommended. A WeHo subway connection structure may be too costly and not cost-effective enough at this time; though the recommendation suggests a light-rail subway (like the Gold Line through Boyle Heights) may be more appropriate for WeHo.

Then there are four issues that will be worked out in the final EIR which will progress this year and next, along with final engineering:
1) Where to put the Century City station. Beverly Hills folks want the stop on Santa Monica Blvd., because it wouldn't pass under Beverly Hills High and some area homes. Metro has pointed out that running the subway stop under Santa Monica Blvd. puts the line near an earthquake fault and also brings down ridership numbers, because a longer hike to Century City's skyscrapers.
2) Metro is still wants to study how to get the subway from Beverly Hills to Century City; they look to be leaning toward a Constellation North route that would pass under only four homes.
3) The Westwood station still needs to be looked at. Metro seems to be leaning toward placing the station at Gayley, north of Wilshire, as opposed to right at Wilshire and Westwood. This would make construction easier (not right on Wilshire), but apparently there are land-use issues that need to be worked out before Gayley and Wilshire is green-lit.
4) The sad VA station that gets no attention. Metro seems to want a south station option closer to the hospital, but "concerns have been expressed by the Department of Veterans Affairs that a station at this location would generate impacts to the hospital and increase activity and congestion in this already heavily used portion of the VA property." The south station is also $92 million cheaper than a north station.

Woo--that's a lot of info. Written comments from the public will be accepted until the 18th, so if you have an opinion you want the board to hear, write away.

· Staff Recommendations for Westside Subway Online [The Source]
· Draft Study for Subway Released [Curbed LA]