The Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) is circulating a petition on the upcoming Purple Line Subway Extension project seeking answers about construction work hours and potential disruptions to residents living near Wilshire Boulevard.
MMRA president Jim O’Sullivan said members have been canvassing the neighborhoods between Fairfax and La Brea avenues, and Wilshire and San Vicente boulevards, gathering signatures for a petition that is intended to raise awareness about possible disruptions. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is expected to have a hearing before the Los Angeles Police Commission at the beginning of August to request permits that would allow construction to occur outside regular weekday time limits outlined in the city’s municipal code. O’Sullivan said he fears the construction could occur 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week over a nine year period, which would make life miserable for residents near the project.
He added that the signature collecting is not yet complete, and the association has not decided whether to expand it into the neighborhoods surrounding Wilshire Boulevard to the west and east of the MMRA’s boundaries. O’Sullivan would not provide the number of signatures gathered so far, but said it is less than 1,000.
“The goal of passing around the petition is to raise awareness, so when we go to the police commission, we can go in and say it’s not two people or three people, it’s hundreds of people who signed these petitions,” O’Sullivan said.
Metro spokesman Dave Sotero was quick to counter the assumptions and said people in the Wilshire area may be misinformed about the extent of subway construction. It will not be 24-hour, seven-days-a-week for the entire scope of the project, he said. Sotero added that there will be some periods — the dates for which have not been established — where Metro will have to work on the project on a 24-hour-a-day basis, but that will be early in the process when the stations are being constructed near Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea and Fairfax avenues. He said Metro is requesting permits for 24-hour construction in anticipation of the station construction periods, and the permits will be applicable for six months. Once a contractor is selected this summer, Metro will know exactly when the 24-hour construction periods will be, and they will notify the public and local organizations such as the MMRA accordingly.
“We are doing 24/7 construction for some weekends. That’s for a specific period of time,” Sotero said. “We are in pre-construction. We haven’t awarded a design and construction contract. Once you bring on board a contractor, you can get more specific and outline which weekends.”
Sotero said the exact date when a contractor will be chosen has not been established. He said the Metro is asking for a blanket permit for 24-hour construction to cover the periods when it will be necessary, once they have been established. Sotero added that once the initial work is completed at the stations, most of the construction will occur underground. Plans call for the dirt from excavation to be hauled on major streets such as La Brea Avenue, and not through residential neighborhoods.
O’Sullivan said he is skeptical about the plans, and worries that a blanket permit for 24-hour construction will enable Metro to work any time the construction contractor chooses. He said the MMRA is not opposing subway construction, only 24-hour subway construction for years at a time. O’Sullivan added that main thing he is looking for is answers, and he would like to hear directly from Metro that 24-hour construction would only be occurring during certain periods.
“That would be wonderful if that’s the case. [But] there is no evidence whatsoever,” O’Sullivan said. “This further makes the argument for me that everything should shut down until they have a contractor on board, and until they can answer everyone’s questions.”
Sotero said Metro has been working with the community and has held numerous public meetings over the past four years to inform people about the project. He added that the meetings will continue.
Construction for the stations is expected to begin after the utility relocation is completed, which has been occurring since late 2013. Once the initial construction work around the stations is completed, crews will be working under decking for approximately five years, with little disruption anticipated for the surrounding area. The first segment of the Purple Line Extension to La Cienega Boulevard is expected to be completed in 2023.
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