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Following the release of a draft report detailing alternatives and impacts of extending the Metro subway down Wilshire Boulevard last week, local officials came together Wednesday to call for speedy financial help from the federal government for the “Subway to the Sea” and other projects.
“Los Angeles needs jobs, cleaner air and less traffic now,” said Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti.
Standing outside of the Wiltern/Wilshire subway station, Garcetti was flanked by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-California), Councilman Bill Rosendahl, 11th District, and Matt Toledo, chair of the Los Angeles area Chamber of Commerce.
“We are asking the federal government to not wait decades, but to do its part to put people to work, clean the air and reduce traffic now,” Garcetti said.
Local transportation advocates are urging federal officials to adopt the “30/10 initiative”, which seeks to complete transit projects in 10 years, instead of 30.
The press conference was organized by CALPIRG, a nonprofit citizen-based advocacy group that works to stand up to powerful interests for the public good, organizers said.
Earlier this week, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hailed President Barack Obama’s announcement of an additional $50 billion in federal funds for roads and other transportation projects.
“President Obama’s plan to improve and build upon our nation’s transportation infrastructure is exactly the type of investment our country needs,” Villaraigosa said. “This is an innovative vision that will give a much-needed boost to the economy and will create a better system in which these critical investments are made.”
Metro’s draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the subway extension examined the impacts, preliminary engineering and construction timelines for the project, which extends from Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica.
The several-hundred page draft report took about one-and-a-half years to complete by Metro staff and their consultants.
The report is a necessary step for the project to receive federal funding and Metro officials said they are hoping to secure federal support in next year’s budget.
The Westside Subway Extension, as proposed, would reach Fairfax Avenue by 2019, Century City by 2026 and Westwood by 2036, officials said.
According to information released on Metro’s blog, “The Source”, the proposed subway extension would run approximately every 3.3 minutes during rush hour, and trains could hold up to 1,000 riders. Maximum speed would be 70 mph.[The draft EIR] is a milestone,” said Dave Sotero, public information officer for Metro. “A few years ago, we didn’t have any of the money identified.”
The next step is to present the information to residents and commuters in a series of public hearings held throughout September. The input will be provided to the Metro Board of Directors, which will choose one of five alternative routes on Oct. 28.
The routes were studied in the draft report, all of which are based around the Wilshire Boulevard corridor, west of the current terminus at Wilshire and Western out to Westwood. The alternatives involve extending the line to either Westwood/UCLA or the Veterans Administration Hospital; all the way west to Santa Monica; and adding a segment between Hollywood and Beverly Hills that would travel through West Hollywood.
The project has been praised as a much-needed alternative to surface streets, often clogged with drivers traveling to and from the westside and downtown.
“I’m a big supporter of this subway extension,” said Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District. “It is one of the many transit expansions that we need to connect Angelenos and tourists alike to all of the great things this city has to offer.”
Sotero said traffic intersections are already operating at a highly congested level, and will only get worse in the future. But subways provide a fast, clean alternative, he added.
“There is no silver bullet,” Sotero said. “Subways are part of the solution to help reduce congestion.”
The release of the subway’s draft environmental impact report marks the start of a 45-day public comment period, which includes five hearings between Sept. 20 and Sept. 29. Written comments can be submitted to Metro until Oct. 18.
The first public meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 20, from 6-8 p.m., at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art West – Terrace Room, 5th Floor, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. For more information, visit: www.metro.net/projects/westside/
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