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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board is scheduled to approve a route for the Westside Subway Extension today, which will enable Metro staff to move forward with preparing a final environmental impact report (EIR).
After three years of holding community meetings and considering alternative routes, the Metro staff is recommending that the subway follow a route under Wilshire Boulevard from the Purple Line’s current terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, to the Veterans Administration complex in Westwood. Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero said the recommendation for the route was based on the amount of money Metro is expecting to have for construction of the project. Metro has earmarked $4.2 billion in funding available from Measure R, and will also be leveraging that amount to secure additional federal funding. After the Metro Board votes on a route, the staff will take approximately one year to put together the final EIR, after which the Metro Board will be required to give final approval.
Sotero said although the recommendation is for a route down Wilshire Boulevard, Metro staff will continue to analyze the Santa Monica Boulevard route through Beverly Hills, and the Constellation Boulevard route in Century City. The alternatives will then be considered by the Metro Board in making its final decision. A route through West Hollywood is not being recommended, Sotero said.
“The West Hollywood spur is not included in the recommendation. We only have $4.2 billion available in 2009 dollars, and that will only get us to the Westwood area,” Sotero added. “The West Hollywood spur may be part of a future plan, but we just don’t have the funding at this time.”
The recommendation for the new subway line, which is commonly referred to as the “Subway to the Sea”, will also include plans for stations along the route. Sotero said a previous plan for a station at Wilshire Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard has been dropped because estimates found that ridership demand would not be as high as at other stations along the route, and that the station would be less than one-mile from the Wilshire and Western station. Recommended stations down Wilshire Boulevard include La Brea Avenue, Fairfax Avenue, La Cienega Boulevard, and Rodeo Drive. Further west, the Metro Board will still have to determine the exact locations of stations in Century City and in Westwood.
Sotero said the Metro Board will meet at 9 a.m. today at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, downtown. He added that the board’s vote will be a major step forward for the project. Officials hope to have construction underway by 2013, with completion by 2022.
“We are well on our way. It’s quite a miracle that the project has gotten this far, given the fact that several years ago we didn’t have bupkis to start this project,” Sotero added. “This will be a major milestone in the progress of this project.”
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