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Westside Subway Route Approved, Initial Work to Start Next Year

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Scene at this morning's Metro Board hearing
And it's on its way: This morning, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the route for the Westside subway, picking the 9-mile Wilshire Boulevard to Westwood/VA hospital path option. “This is a historic day, this is the first time in our lifetime?that we have gotten this close to extending and building a subway through the Wilshire Corridor," said Zev Yaroslavsky, a county supervisor and board member at today's meeting, held at Metro's downtown headquarters. Additionally, and as expected, the board voted to drop that station at Crenshaw Boulevard. As far as a timeline on construction, David Mieger, Deputy Executive Officer at Metro, said initial work on the Westside subway will start late next year. The first steps will be utility relocation, right of way acquisition and early paleontology work along Wilshire Boulevard (our slumbering animal ancestors are lodged along the planned subway route, and those fossils need to be removed, according to Mieger).

While a decision on where to put that controversial planned Century City stop--the subway will go through the area, although it's not exactly clear what route it will take--wasn't up for a final vote today, dozens of people came out to speak on the topic. As covered before, many Beverly Hills residents, worried about everything from methane explosions to fears that terrorists will attack the subway, want a more northerly route that would avoid tunneling under both homes and Beverly Hills High. But the opposition wants a stop closer to Century City, at Constellation Boulevard or Avenue of the Stars.

Ken Goldman, President of the Southwest Homeowners Association, told the board that you “don’t trade the safety of our only high school?just to save riders from walking one block.” Beverly Hills councilwoman Nancy Krasne also asked that the route skip Beverly Hills High. "All our treasured assets are there," she said. "Our children." As an alternative suggestion, Beverly Hills vice mayor Barry Brucker proposed "a moving sidewalk off Santa Monica Boulevard," to ferry people to the subway stop.

After numerous Beverly Hills residents spoke, Jeff Jacobberger, chair of the Mid City West Community Council, got up and had a tart response to the speakers from Beverly Hills. In support of a stop closer to Century City, he told the board: "I’m going to say something no one from Beverly Hills said this morning: I took Metro to this meeting." (As it turns out, a Beverly Hills supporter also took public transportation to the meeting, it was later revealed by a speaker). But Jacobberger's point seemed to re-iterate the fight over this subway stop is perceived by some to be a socioeconomic battle. He told the board: "You should build a transit service that services transit riders?rather than catering to the wealthy."

Susan Bursk, President and CEO of the Century City Chamber of Commerce, was also one of those who spoke out in favor of a stop at Avenue of the Stars.

As Streetsblog first reported, yesterday Yaroslavsky submitted a motion that "would order a 'full exploration' of the risks of tunneling under Beverly Hills to construct the Westside Subway, a move that looks to somehow placate those worried about tunneling under Beverly Hills. At a press conference after the vote, Mayor Villaraigosa was asked about a possible lawsuit filed on behalf of Beverly Hills residents, and replied: "I think we will work the concerns out." And in an apparent nod to the forthcoming subway studies planned in Beverly Hills, he said that "science has to dictate [the subway stop choice], not other considerations."
· Westside Subway Archives [Curbed LA]