The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) began its second round of community meetings this week to update residents on the final Westside Subway Extension Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR). Representatives from Metro provided attendees with an update on the feedback they received from residents and Station Advisory Groups during the first round of meetings in January and February.
“We may set a world record for the most community meetings ever for a public project,” said Dave Sotero, spokesperson for Metro.
According to Community Relations Manager Jody Litvak, Metro has held approximately 60 meetings since 2007 regarding the project that have been attended by a total of nearly 3,000 people.
“We’ve gone far beyond what we are required to do,” Litvak said. “Every bit of public input counts.”
Jeff Jacobberger, chair of the Mid-City West Council, attended Monday’s meeting held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), one of the locations for a new subway station.
“They just updated us on the feedback from the advisory groups,” Jacobberger said. “It was a pretty standard presentation.”
Jacobberger was one of the members of the Wilshire/Fairfax Station Advisory Group. He said they provided tons of suggestions to Metro during their February meetings regarding details of the proposed station including where the portal to the station would be on the LACMA property, drop-off locations and parking options.
“That was one of the main concerns,” Jacobberger said. “Residents were concerned people would take up parking on residential streets to use the subway.”
The meetings also served to update the communities on Metro’s geotechnical work at the proposed station sites. This process involves collecting soil samples to make sure the ground is stable enough to support the station. It also involves seismic, noise and vibration testing.
Litvak said that the countless meetings have provided Metro with very useful information.
“There are so many examples of things that were implemented or taken out of the plan based entirely on input from the public,” Litvak said.
Public input led Metro to build a station at the VA hospital in Westwood.
“The project was only budgeted to run through Westwood,” Litvak said. “Since that was the case, the public asked that we build a station on the other side of the 405 freeway.”
Metro also used public input look into placing the Century City station south of Santa Monica Boulevard.
“It’s safe to say that this project has had the most community input in recent memory,” Sotero said.
Although Metro has held various meetings over the years, new suggestions still come up every so often.
“We had someone at Monday’s meeting suggest we do not use square-ended hand rails because they were uncomfortable,” Litvak said. “I thought it was fantastic that we were hearing new things at this point in the process.”
Metro will conclude its second round of meeting March 29 at the Roxbury Park Auditorium in Beverly Hills and then hold its final round of meetings sometime in the summer.
“I’m hoping that by the third round of meetings we can show the results of all the tests and analysis,” Litvak said.
After those meetings are over, Metro will look to gain final approval on the EIS/EIR by the end of the year and begin the construction process by 2012.
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