BEVERLY HILLS—A judge on Friday, August 12, upheld the federal government’s approval of the Metro’s Purple Line extension which involves building a tunnel under Beverly Hills High School. According to TheSource, in a federal lawsuit brought against the Federal Transit Administration, U.S. District Court Judge George Wu upheld the FTA’s prior approval of the project. The city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District brought forth the federal lawsuit. Metro was previously sued by both plaintiffs.
The city and the school district were against the need for the subway project to have a tunnel built under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. According to the Los Angeles Times, the city and the local school district have spent about $10 million over five years fighting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to tunnel beneath Beverly Hills High School for a nine-mile heavy rail link between Westwood and Koreatown, where the subway line currently terminates. Metro believes the tunnel is needed to avoid an earthquake fault along Santa Monica Boulevard.
Metro can now go forward with a finalizing a $1.5 billion federal grant and loan to pay for the second phase of the project which will extend the Purple Line to Century City. The judge also ordered Metro to redo parts of the project environmental studies, including the seismic studies near Beverly Hills High School. Metro has already begun the work.
There are three phrases for the construction on the Purple Line extension. The first phrase from Koreatown to Miracle Mile, anticipated completion is set for 2023. The second phrase which is from Beverly Hills and Century City is expected to be completed by 2026 and then the final phase from Westwood and West L.A. is expected to be completed by 2035.
In Judge George H. Wu’s 23-page ruling, he said that the Federal Transit Administration had not properly communicated with the Beverly Hills Unified School District on their concerns about tunneling in an area that is in abundance of pockets, and had not addressed the effects of construction on air quality and recreation at the high school campus.
Some of Wu’s 23-page ruling is available at https://www.scribd.com/mobile/document/321046165/Westside-Remedy-ORDER?skip_app_promo=true.
On August 12, Metro officials said that they were grateful for the Judge’s ruling and that they look forward to delivering a project that will safely and quickly serve transit riders on the chronically-congested Westside. Metro is proposing a half-cent sales tax increase which will be on the November Ballot and that could allot nearly $1 billion to accelerate construction of the line.
“We take the ruling seriously and we are going to get the work done,” said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. “Nothing so far has kept us from meeting the goal of delivering the project.”
According to attorney Jennifer Recine who is representing the BHUSD, she indicated that the school district “will pursue those claims” to ensure the community’s resources are protected and preserved.
“The Judge properly found that the FTA violated federal environmental law when it approved this segment of the project,” said Recine in a statement. “The Judge also recognized that given the testimony of Metro’s CEO Philip Washington, the analysis FTA must do to correct those violations may well be superficial, and BHUSD will have further claims against FTA.”
The city of Beverly Hills will be holding community meetings on the purple line construction. Attendees will learn about the draft memorandum of agreement between the City and the Metropolitan Transit Authority on construction activity for the Purple Line Extension (Wilshire/La Cienega) subway station.
Canyon News spoke with Therese Kosterman, Public Information Manager for the city of Beverly Hills about the meeting and whether or not it was scheduled due to the ruling. “The meetings were previously scheduled. They are intended to discuss construction mitigation and have nothing to do with the ruling,” said Kosterman.
The first meeting is a business oriented meeting. It will be held on Monday, August 22. It will run from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce Board Room on the second floor. The Chamber of Commerce is located at 9400 S. Santa Monica Blvd. The second meeting is catered towards residents. It will also be on Monday, but will run from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at La Cienega Park on 8400 Gregory Way.