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Bev Hills-Funded Study Favors Tunneling Under BH High, City Still Up to Fight It

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Already, before the final environmental report for the Purple Line subway extension has even been certified by Metro, Beverly Hills is preparing to write checks to lawyers to start fighting the project in court (if only the city moved as fast when it came to removing those oil rigs from their high school). Beverly Hills Patch reports that the city council on Tuesday voted unanimously to oppose a subway tunnel under BHHS, which is necessary in order to put a station in the heart of Century City at Constellation, which is the option Metro says is safest; BH wants a station on Santa Monica Blvd., but Metro says there's an earthquake fault there and that ridership would suffer since an SMB stop would be adjacent to a golf course rather than a more major destination. "The [BH] City Council last night directed the City [staff] to engage special legal counsel to fully assert the City's rights and to protect the City's interests...as Metro considers the final EIR and, if necessary, pursue litigation," according to a statement from the council. The council trumps up the fact that they've spent $200,000 on scientific experts who "raised serious questions about Metro's justification for tunneling beneath the High School." The BH study (pdf), though, conducted by geotechnical firm Shannon & Wilson, simply advised more study on a Constellation station, but ultimately stated that a stop there is better and a tunnel under BHHS could be done safely: "We agree with the conclusions of the Fault Report that the Constellation Station location appears to be more favorable than the Santa Monica Boulevard location based on the exploration data that is interpreted to show no faulting in the station area," the report reads.

"Placing a station along the Santa Monica Boulevard alignment will be more risky than at Constellation Boulevard due to increasing likelihood of faults to the north, along the [Santa Monica Fault Zone]," Shannon and Wilson report.

As far as BHHS, Shannon & Wilson find that "The proposed tunnel crown is approximately 50 to 70 feet below the existing ground surface along the BHHS campus. The tunnel is therefore not likely to directly impact the campus facilities (as we understand their current use). The proposed BHHS underground parking garage could be constructed above the tunnel to a maximum depth of about 30 to 50 feet below grade, leaving at least 20 feet of undisturbed soil above the tunnels. Risks associated with ground loss during construction, vibrations during construction and operation, and hazards from methane and other gasses should be mitigated by the design and plans and specifications for the project."

But even facts don't seem to be deterring Beverly Hills. For those concerned about how litigation could affect groundbreaking for the subway, there will be at least a year and a half of pre-construction activities--sewer, power line relocation, etc.--and the first phase of the subway will only hit La Cienega, so it seems unlikely that prolonged litigation would hold up work on the La Brea, Fairfax, La Cienega, and possibly, Beverly/Rodeo Dr. stations. Metro is scheduled to decide whether to certify the extension's final EIR at their April 26 board meeting. Beverly Hills is urging anti-tunnel people to attend the meeting (we hear they're busing people in as well), which takes place at 9 am at Metro headquarters behind Union Station.
· City Council May Pursue Legal Action on Subway [BH Patch]
· Rancor Rules the Day at Purple Line Open House in Bev Hills [Curbed LA]
· Preliminary Review Comments of Century City Area Fault Investigation Report Westside Subway Extension Project Century City and Beverly Hills, CA (pdf) [Beverly Hills]