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Metro amends subway extension budget to $3.2 billion

The Purple Line is currently being extended to connect Westwood to Downtown Los Angeles. The cost of the project was recently raised from
$1.4 billion to $3.2 billion. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Sydney Coneeny

March 8, 2019 12:32 a.m.

Correction: The original version of this article and the headline accompanying this article incorrectly stated the budget was unexpectedly increased by $1.8 billion. In fact, the additions to the budget were anticipated for the costs of construction outside of tunneling.

This post was updated March 11 at 4:40 p.m.

The Metro Board amended the budget of The LA Metro Purple Line Extension Project from $1.4 billion to $3.2 billion at its meeting Feb. 28. This budget amendment is to build the third section of the Purple Line Extension, which will pass through Westwood.

The Purple Line Extension Project is a nine-mile underground subway that will connect the Westside of Los Angeles to Downtown LA. It is designed to be a high-speed alternative transportation option for commuters, and is expected to be completed by 2026.

The extension will connect Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega in the first section, and connect to both Beverly Hills and Century City in the second section. The third section of the project will link Beverly Hills and Century City to Westwood.

David Sotero, a Metro spokesperson, said in an email statement that the budget amendment is consistent with previous estimated fiscal increases for the project.

He added part of the new budget will fund construction outside of tunneling, like stations and tracks, and a $1.36 billion construction contract with Tutor Perini Corporation and O&G JV. Tutor Perini, one of the largest general contractors in the U.S., will take part in tunneling work for the project.

“We are now adding in another piece of the project, which is specifically for stations, trackwork, systems and testing,” Sotero said. “The $1.3 billion for this work is entirely consistent with previous financial assumptions for the project that have already been approved by the Metro Board.”

According to new plans for the project, an entrance to the subway will be built on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, in addition to the two originally planned entrances on the north side.

Michael Skiles, president of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, advocated for the south subway entrance, and said he thinks it will provide a safe means for people to access the Purple Line from all directions.

“We wanted to see the Purple Line work for Westwood and be accessible to workers and residents no matter what side of Westwood they lived in,” Skiles said.

Skiles added he thinks the subway will be crucial for UCLA commuters and Westwood residents working in various parts of LA.

“It’ll be an absolute game changer for students interning Downtown, and a complete and total miracle for any student who was commuting to and from (places like) Pasadena,” Skiles said. “Certainly trips that could easily take many hours in traffic could be more like a half-hour trip.”

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said he was also a proponent for the Purple Line extension into Westwood. Thomas said he thinks the line will result in more people working and shopping in Westwood.

“I think you (will) see a movement toward greater housing opportunities near transit stations and hubs,” Thomas said. “Say Downtown or Koreatown, they can live near (transit stations) and work in Westwood because they know it’s only a half-hour away by subway, rather than 1 1/2 hours by car.”

Thomas also advocated for the south entrance. Skiles and Thomas both said they think the entrance will be safer for the expected volume of pedestrians who will be accessing the Purple Line on Wilshire.

“We’re talking about thousands who would be crossing Wilshire, and we didn’t feel it would be safe for pedestrians or vehicular traffic without the southside portal,” Thomas said.

Belen Munoz, a second-year sociology student, said she thinks the Purple Line extension will be beneficial to students who live outside the Westwood area.

“I have friends and classmates who live off campus, and I know the commute to school can be a pain for them. Everyone knows LA traffic is a headache, so I think the extension could be a way for commuter students to avoid that,” Munoz said. “With a subway line, they won’t have to deal with traffic or bus schedules.”

Nathan Rice, a third-year psychology student, said he thinks the subway extension will provide a convenient method of traveling to new locations in LA.

“I think an extension will give a lot of students an opportunity to go out and explore parts of the city they might not be comfortable going to right now. LA is a big place, and for the students who aren’t from here I think it can be pretty intimidating,” Rice said. “Maybe this will give students a way to get into the city that they feel comfortable actually using.”

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Sydney Coneeny | City and Crime editor
Coneeny is the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the City and Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for the National News and Higher Education beat. She is a second-year pre-global studies student from the east coast.
Coneeny is the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the City and Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for the National News and Higher Education beat. She is a second-year pre-global studies student from the east coast.
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