BEVERLY HILLS—The City of Beverly Hills could derail the progression of the subway expansion to the Westside of Los Angeles. The construction of the subway expansion is swiftly progressing, but the City of Beverly Hills is claiming possible hazards and cites dangers from the construction process and the future operations of the new rail link.
The subway’s transit officials have decided to extend the purple line. The rail line previously made its final stop at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, but the expansion will continue to the Veterans Affairs Campus. The proposed expansion is a nine and a half mile rail alignment that will make stops at Fairfax Avenue, La Cienega Boulevard, Century City, Westwood-UCLA and finally end at the Veteran Affairs Campus.
The potential route of the new expansion would require tunneling under homes in the neighborhood and under Beverly Hills High School. The high school has 2,200 enrolled students and serves as the City of Beverly Hills’ emergency preparedness center. This inconvenience, and possible construction danger, is one reason municipal leaders, school district officials and local residents are strongly opposed to the proposed subway expansion.
Last Tuesday, over a hundred Beverly Hills residents came out to attend a Westside Subway Expansion meeting. Although residents support the subway, they are against construction under their homes.
The original proposal ran the subway under Santa Monica Boulevard.Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) looked into moving the station two-tenths of a mile toward the center of Century City. MTA is hoping that the Avenue of the Stars station will be moved a block to the corner of Constellation.
This proposal is where the Beverly Hills opposition arises. Original plans had a station at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars, at the edge of the district and a golf course. Research suggested that this move would increase ridership and cost effectiveness, thus, gaining greater chances of federal funding. The new station would mean tunneling under at least 30 private properties, a mix of residential and non-residential buildings.
The project’s proponents and opposition met last Thursday in front of the MTA board of directors, while the panel chose a general route for the subway expansion plan along the Wilshire Boulevard tunnel, which is heavily congested with traffic. Project leaders are looking to cooperate with the MTA and Beverly Hills to avoid any potential conflict. Beverly Hills school district officials and official representatives of the city are in support of the Westside subway expansion, but are advocating the rail line run under Santa Monica Boulevard as an alternative.
If that station is approved, Metro would tunnel under McCarty, Linden, Spalding and Lasky drives. If the Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars station is chosen, tunneling would go under Santa Monica Boulevard.
Metro representatives say tunneling is safe and they have held community meetings that address tunneling concerns. There has been a history of subway construction problems. There were issues with the construction of the Red Line subway years ago and recently, subway construction has posed problems in Europe and Asia.
Even if the construction is completed without any construction mishaps, Beverly Hills officials are concerned of any subway rail side effects, such as ground vibrations caused by passing trains and any excess noise. Some feel the project would decrease the real-estate value of the homes and property located above the rail line. The vibrations from the subway could potentially be a problem for the historic buildings in the area. Beverly Hills High School, for instance, was built in the 1920s. There is concern for possible earthquake danger.
It is suspected a lawsuit from the City of Beverly Hills is inevitable. The Beverly Hills School District recently hired an attorney to look into the project’s environmental impact and any possible hazards to the neighborhood.