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Westward Ho, Subway to the Sea: Latest Meeting Brings Talk of Century City, Westwood Stops

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A subway option at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars
At last night's meeting in Westwood regarding the western leg of the Purple Line extension, things were civil: No shouting, no NIMBYism. As Metro explained the potential stops at Westwood and Century City (the option at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars is pictured above--by us), earthquake concerns, the depths of the tunnels, and the financial "easements" provided to homeowners who will live atop the subway, the message from the mostly 50+ crowd was, "You have our support, just be careful." Actually, after Metro Community Relations Manager Jody Litvak explained the status of the current environmental study of the project, there wasn't one person among the couple dozen speakers who voiced opposition to the subway's route.

Metro is months away from finishing their draft environmental impact report, which will be presented to the board for approval. If green-lit, a locally preferred alternative for the route and stops will solidify.

At last night's meeting, the specific topic was the route of the line from Century City to Westwood. The CC stop will either be at Santa Monica Blvd. and Avenue of the Stars or further south at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars--Metro's studies show higher ridership for the latter option, which positions the station more central to the business district. Local support favors the latter option too, and Metro is trying to avoid construction on major streets (e.g., Santa Monica Blvd.), so it shouldn't come as a big surprise if Metro picks the latter option.

For Westwood, there's a proposed stop under Wilshire, on the west side of Westwood. But more realistically, the stop will be a bit north at UCLA's parking lot 36, on the northside of Wilshire, between Gayley and Veteran. Again, Metro hopes to avoid construction right on a major street like Wilshire.

There are three options now to get between the stations: the shortest route, which is called the "Direct Connection," the second most direct route called "Cross Country" which traverses a golf course, and the "Westwood Loop," the longest route. There are reasons why Metro may choose to go with a longer route as opposed to a shorter one--less homes above certain routes, lower depth needed for certain routes, etc. All routes would vary from 58 to 135 feet below ground at certain points. Metro says noise to homes will not be a problem at depths this deep; they mentioned how sound studios above the Red Line aren't affected by trains (LA's soft soil also acts as a buffer against noises).

It would seem Metro would want to avoid the "Westwood Loop" for another reason other than its length (it would take five minutes to get between the two stops as opposed to around two with the other routes): that route runs along Santa Monica Blvd, which has an earthquake fault running underneath it. Metro's Litvak assured attendees that cities from San Francisco to Santiago, Chile saw their subway systems survive intact (and in some instances, serve as lifelines) after major quakes.

All lines would require tunneling underneath (expensive) homes. Homeowners will be awarded "easement" money for their troubles, determined by independent appraisals; Litvak doesn't know how much yet but that will probably be determined next year. No one will see a subway vent pop up in their backyard; all vents and emergency entrances/exits will be located on non-residential areas of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards.

Next came the comments, which as mentioned previously, were universally affirming. Some interesting points/questions/comments included, "How will this line connect to the future rail line up the 405?," "Is the Newport-Inglewood fault being considered in the study?," "Let's build a bicycle park at the Westwood station like the one in The Hague, Netherlands," and "Let's be careful about Marilyn Monroe and the Westwood Cemetery."

And in related news, The Source reports that former subway enemy Henry Waxman is urging the Federal Transportation Administration to consider the Purple Line extension in full, rather than in the three phases it may be built in. Also, Source writer Steve Hymon says if the 30/10 plan happens, the Westwood station could open in 2017, though that seems mighty ambitious to us.

· Crenshaw Station Debate [Curbed LA]
· Waxman Wants Subway Extension Studied By Feds All at Once [The Source]